awe | ane, 05. May 2022

Design of a Chinese love declaration

How do I explain Schaffhausen to my Chinese compatriots? How do I make them understand what I love about this small town? How do they know that there is no better location for their settlement? Xia Chen, who has been living in Schaffhausen for 25 years, dealt with this question. She is married to Thomas Holenstein from Schaffhausen. For almost 20 years, she looked after and advised delegations and business contacts from China at the canton of Schaffhausen's economic development agency. She built cultural bridges with her compatriots within Schaffhausen's location promotion framework.

That was precisely the point of the assignment to create a book about Schaffhausen, a declaration of love for the small town. One that shows companies, trades, moods, gastronomy, events, culture, and the town's history. In pictures mainly, but also in the text - in Chinese characters. The book is to be given as a gift to Chinese business people. However, what is being explained in Chinese is additionally translated into German. The design was also about building bridges and underlining the declaration of love.

A chat as the basis for a book

The basis for this was Xia Chen's Wechat blog "My Schaffhausen", for which she takes photographs and writes stories and poems about aspects of her beloved second home. The title "I love SH" plays with the fact that SH stands for Shanghai in China. And there is a big "I love" neon sign there.

Fonts in Dialog - Bridges to Cultures

The challenge for us was to create order among the pictures and to find a rhythm between stories, photos, and poems. At the same time, it was essential to maintain the small-town liveliness and variety that characterize Schaffhausen and make it so endearing.

Playing with colors, geometries, and moods

The solution is, on the one hand, a dialogue between the Chinese characters and the German explanations. The Chinese takes eight times more space - after all, the book is made for China. The curious German-speaking reader is thus obviously only served summaries. The pictures are always arranged differently. Sometimes they are grouped geometrically; sometimes they play with color areas that pick up the mood. Sometimes they are small, sometimes large, sometimes enriched with text, and sometimes with poems in prominent Chinese characters and a lot of space. 

While working, we fell in love again with our little town, our little paradise, where charming provinciality meets global corporations.

The two authors accompany the production of their book.

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