Design studio «H2E» has designed an anniversary edition of Jānis Čakste’s work «Latvians and Their Latvia». Just like the author, the visual and tactile properties of the book address the reader in a warm, respectful, and patriotic manner. The book is a continuation of the Jānis Čakste’s House exhibition, which was created a year ago, and its main message — the importance of democracy, freedom and independence in the life of the state and every individual.
The first president of Latvia, Jānis Čakste (1859–1927), was an instrumental figure in establishing an independent Latvian state. He was a conscientious politician and public figure who advocated a just, democratic state based on the active participation of civil society. The beliefs Čakste expressed 100 years ago have proven to be timeless and still relevant today.
The commemorative publication «Latvians and their Latvia» marks the 160th anniversary of Jānis Čakste and honours his contribution to the founding of Latvia. Čakste wrote the book in 1917 in Stockholm, Sweden, with the aim of raising awareness of the legal and economic situation of the Latvian people and the need to establish an independent Latvian state. At the time, the book was written in German to promote the idea of an independent Latvia to as many people as possible. Today, the anniversary edition is created as a set of books in Latvian and in German. The book was published by Janis Čakste’s family on the important anniversary year to remind of and stimulate reflection on what we have achieved so far and what kind of Latvia we want to live in.
Design office’s «H2E» collaboration with Jānis Čakste’s family began when working on the exhibition and visual identity for Jānis Čakste’s House in Auči, Ozolnieki county, which opened to visitors in autumn 2018. During the Soviet occupation, the Čakste family underwent repression and were forced to leave their home. Only after Latvia regained its independence, the descendants of Jānis Čakste began purposefully restoring the lost property and making it publicly accessible.
The exhibition at Jānis Čakste’s House has been designed as an open space for discussion on democracy and the values of a democratic society. The conversation is inspired by the story of Čakste’s family that also tells the fate of the Latvian state. The exhibition reminds about three important national values — freedom, independence and democracy — and invites visitors to exchange opinions about them. Through thoughtful design solutions, an inspiring story is created that boosts the much-needed confidence of a small nation and provides a confident view of the future.
Both in the design of the book and the exhibition, Čakste’s perception of the ideal Latvia echoes strongly. The book’s format and layouts associatively reflect order and balance, recalling the solid and democratic value system of Jānis Čakste. The interior of Jānis Čakste’s House is laconic, simple, structured and warm — matching the personality of Jānis Čakste.