The architectural interplay of light and space

Zumtobel Group’s 2018/19 artistic annual report | AT

With its 2018/19 art book, designed by the Austrian architect Professor Dietmar Eberle of Baumschlager Eberle Architekten in conjunction with Sascha Lötscher of Gottschalk+Ash Int’l, Zurich, the Zumtobel Group presents the 28th edition in its series of unique artistic annual reports. In this year’s edition the designers focus on the interplay of light and space from an architectural perspective, and on making light visible through the use of strong contrasts. The publication was presented at the company's Light Forum in Dornbirn for the first time on 24 July 2019.

“We are delighted that we were able to secure the services of Professor Dietmar Eberle, a renowned Austrian architect and longstanding friend of our Group, for the design of our report. We’re great fans of his architecture and his approach to architecture and so it meant a lot to us to be able to create a Zumtobel art book together with him. For me, this edition offers a unique representation of light and space,” says Karin Zumtobel, Head of Culture & Arts, Zumtobel Group.

Ever since 1991, the Zumtobel Group has invited internationally renowned figures from the fields of architecture, graphic design and art to present their take on the subject of light and the development of the company. In this task, the company leaves the chosen creative director a free hand in terms of the design, unhampered by any corporate design considerations. The outcome, year after year, is a series of unconventional unique printed works that have long since become collectors’ items.

The concept behind this year’s edition
In this art edition the designers interpret light from an architectural perspective, using photographs to show a range of lighting moods in space. The photographs illustrate architectural models complete with lighting scenarios which were created by students at ETH Zürich, the university for science and technology, working under the supervision of Professor Eberle in his teaching role there. The pictures are arranged through the art book in sequence, from dark to light, in order to make the effects of light more visible. The use of low-resolution printing for large images and high-resolution for small images is another strategy used to enhance light’s visibility. The overall effect is an interplay of contrasts – dark and light, black and white – that merge together, softening, in places.

“Architecture consists of light and shade – nothing more. Light is central to architecture – it’s only light that makes the world apparent, visible to us at all in the first place. So light is something we take for granted, as a natural given. The student works I’ve used in this annual report are all characterised by their engagement with light. This report presents one way of describing what lies ahead of us. What the students document in these works will be architectural reality in our society in 15 to 20 years’ time,” says Professor Dietmar Eberle, Baumschlager Eberle Architekten.

Black and white contrasts as a stylistic element
As design features, the layout and typography align with the photographs and echo the dark-to-light theme, playing with dynamic placements and sizes and with the combination of dense and spaced-out effects. The art book begins with stark white on black, moves on to a three-way combination of black and white on grey paper in the centre section, and ends with stark black on white. Pages with generous white spaces give off light and alternate with the contrasting effect and darker visual appearance of relatively dense typography.

“The unifying factor is the transition from black to white: everything else derives from that. This is about making light visible through the design,” says Sascha Lötscher of Gottschalk + Ash Int’l. “For example, we greatly reduced the resolution of the large images and at this lower resolution light itself becomes part of what is shown – the light shines through. In contrast the small, sharp images need light falling on them to become visible at all.”

Zumtobel Group employees form part of the report
In parallel to this progression from dark to light, the annual report is arranged in reverse alphabetical order from Z to A − with the Z for Zumtobel Group symbolically at the beginning, while the A for architecture at the end of the report closes the loop. As a key unifying factor in the Zumtobel Group’s business activity, many of the group’s employees are named in this art book. The names – also arranged from Z to A − are printed on narrow-format bright yellow pages that bring a splash of colour to the annual report and form a clear contrast with the other elements of the design.

Added digital dimension
Another unique feature of the new edition is that this year the annual report – which was analogue-only in previous years – also has a digital component: Integrated videos and microsites, accessed via QR codes, add further depth to specific sections of the print version and enable the reader to dive deeper into the fascinating Zumtobel Group world of light.

About Professor Dietmar Eberle, Baumschlager Eberle Architekten, Austria
Professor Dietmar Eberle heads up the internationally renowned architecture practice Baumschlager Eberle Architekten based in Lustenau, Austria, with eleven offices in eight countries worldwide. Dietmar Eberle was a professor at ETH Zürich from 1999 to 2018.

About Gottschalk+Ash Int’l, Zurich, Switzerland
Gottschalk+Ash Int’l
focuses on visual communication and largely engages in the field of branding, corporate and environmental design. The work of Gottschalk+Ash Int'l is represented in various books, exhibitions and magazines such as Monocle, Domus or Graphis.

Left: Sascha Lötscher, Gottschalk+Ash Int’l and on the right Prof. Dietmar Eberle, Baumschlager Eberle Architekten. © Zumtobel

Unique annuals – the Zumtobel Group’s art book series
The constant exchange and close collaboration with architects, artists and designers has always been an integral part of the Zumtobel Group's corporate culture. It is 28 years since Russian architect and designer Mikhail Anikst designed the first artistic annual report for the business year 1991/1992. Initiated by Jürg Zumtobel, the then CEO and current Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Zumtobel Group AG, this rich tradition is now continued by Karin Zumtobel. The core philosophy behind this series of art books has always been to demonstrate the company's close connection to art and culture at group level, and to create a design language beyond the corporate design guidelines of the individual brands.

In line with this thinking, a wide range of personalities from the company`s extensive network has been invited over the years to shape the annual report with their individual ideas, showcasing their own unique approach to the topic of lighting and the business of the Zumtobel Group. The result is a series of unique and elaborate pieces that have now become collector’s items. Alongside graphic designers like Italo Lupi, Neville Brody, Per Arnoldi and Stefan Sagmeister, who began the artistic collaboration, a number of prominent artists such as Gerhard Merz, Siegrun Appelt, Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor and James Turrell and architects like Dominique Perrault, Hani Rashid / Asymptote, François Roche / Studio R&Sie(n), Sejima Kazuyo and Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA, David Chipperfield / DCA, Kjetil Thorsen / Snøhetta, Elizabeth Diller / Scofidio and Renfro and Yung Ho Chang / Atelier FCJZ have put their creative stamp on the annual report. Last year's edition was designed by graphic designer Jessica Walsh, Studio Sagmeister & Walsh.

For more information on the current annual report, see here. The artistic report 2018/19 can be also viewed in a digital catalogue format.

Video of the artistic annual report by Andreas Waldschütz