The panel saw several books that were specially aimed at young people. As usual they were full of colour and used a variety of design idioms jumbled up amongst and over and under each other, like a potpourri or a failed collage. They were busy, busy, busy, epitomes of visual ADHD, popular in a way not noted for intelligence or subtlety, and clearly produced from a preconceived view of what appeals to the young.
The design of this seventeenth edition of Fluff, a periodical magazine for skateboarders, is the opposite of all this: highly professional, restrained and perfectly balanced, just as good ‘skaters’ are in perfect control of their art. This cheeky Dutch magazine, which is quite capable of changing its shape from one edition to the next, is highly thought of in the skateboarding community – so much so, indeed, that Nike brought in the editors to help in the development of not just a book but a shoe too.
The issue seen by the judges is designed as a paperback bound in the Japanese style. It instantly convinced the panel with its freshness. At first sight we see the white pages of text and simple typographical illustrations: photos composed solely of ASCII characters and symbols. Cut open the pages, however, and the colour and high-quality photography emerge, so that the action to which the stories and statements testify can now be seen. This extreme restraint contrasts sharply with our usual expectations of youth culture in general and skaters in particular, and is thus surprising, unconventional and idiosyncratic. The magazine is also unusual in that it is produced not just for skateboarders but also, above all, by skateboarders.