OPEN • SET Competition Winners

Nearly two years ago, I blogged excitedly about the announcement of OPEN • SET, a new international bookbinding competition.

Lots of bookbinding-related things happened between then and now: auctions, competitions, exhibitions, book fairs, awards, and even a few blogs posts. All that time, I was eagerly awaiting the results of the OPEN • SET competition judging. When the winners were announced, I tweeted and wrote about it on Facebook, but I failed to blog about the winners and exhibition locations and dates. Today I am correcting the omission.

The OPEN • SET exhibition, its second stop (sorry Denver!), opened last night at the San Francisco Center for the Book. The timing couldn’t be better. Lovers of books and book arts are currently flocking to the Bay Area to attend both CODEX (February 5-8) in Richmond and the California International Antiquarian Book Fair (February 10-12) in Oakland.* Sadly for me, while I will be in the Bay Area briefly during the exhibition, I will be fully occupied exhibiting at the Antiquarian Book Fair. I will have to wait until the exhibit hits Boston to get a good look. Stay tuned for another OPEN • SET blog post during the summer.

The international roster of participants in the OPEN • SET competition were given the opportunity to bind the SET book or a book of their choice for the OPEN category. Entries were limited to one book per category. All entries were reviewed and the winners were selected by a blind jury of three professional binders: Eleanore Ramsey (I blogged about her work here), David Esslemont (Anglo-American binder and book artist, creator of the set book), and Cathy Adelman (I blogged about her work here and here).

I am thrilled to report that of the 6 prize winners in the two categories, four are from the Americas! There is also strong representation from the Americas among those receiving “Highly Commendable” recognition.

The winners in the OPEN category are:

First place: MARK ESSER (USA)
Second place: SOFÍA MENDIZABÁL (Argentina)
Highly Commendable: Titling: Jan Camps (Belgium)
Highly Commendable: Onlay & Inlay: Coleen Curry (USA)
Highly Commendable: Endbands: Sol Rébora (Argentina)
Highly Commendable: Unusual Materials: Sialia Rieke (USA)
Highly Commendable: Design: Dominic Riley (UK)
Highly Commendable: Unique Structure: Luke Hornus (UK)

The winners in the SET category are:

First place: SOL RÉBORA (Argentina)
Second place: PATRICIA OWEN (USA)
Third place: BENJAMIN ELBEL (The Netherlands)
Highly Commendable: Tooling: Samuel Feinstein (USA)
Highly Commendable: Onlay & Inlay: Susan Hulme (USA)
Highly Commendable: Use of Materials: Adelene Koh (Singapore)

The OPEN • SET traveling exhibition is a showcase of 50 bindings. The selections are intended to demonstrate the depth and breadth of excellence in craftsmanship and design concept interpretation. Here are the locations and approximate dates to note:

DENVER • January 5 to 28 (Oops, missed that one!)
Denver Public Library
10 West Fourteenth Avenue, Denver, Colorado

SAN FRANCISCO • February 1 to March 4 San Francisco Center for the Book
375 Rhode Island Street, San Francisco, California

IOWA CITY • March 8 to April 19 University of Iowa
125 West Washington Street, Iowa City, Iowa

TELLURIDE • April 24 to May 20 AhHaa School of the Arts
117 North Willow Street,Telluride, Colorado

BOSTON • June 8 to July 19 North Bennet Street School
150 North Street, Boston, Massachusetts

AUSTIN • July 26 to August 26 Austin Public Library
710 West César Chávez Street, Austin,Texas

*Please note that, all rumors to the contrary, I will NOT be in the Bay Area during CODEX. I am exhibiting at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair along with around 200 dealers in rare and collectible books, maps, and ephemera including contemporary book arts. Stop by booth 102, say hi, and take a look at my stock of unique bindings and unique artists books in unique bindings. Here’s what I’m bringing.

And now, what everyone is waiting for, pictures of the winning bindings!

Mark Esser
Sofía Mendizabál
Zigor Anguiano Calzeda
Sol Rébora
Patricia Owen
Benjamin Elbel


Many, many thanks to Lang Ingalls whose enthusiasm, powerful organizational skills, and unflagging energy made the OPEN • SET competition and traveling exhibition a reality.



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