PLACEText: Nem Kienzle
The first time I heard the name Nieves Books, my friends from No.12 Gallery in Tokyo were talking about collaborating for a world zine exhibition with Nieves Books. Sometime later, in a Berliner art bookstore PRO QM, I coincidentally bought a zine called “Lispering” by Josh Petherick, which happened to be published by the same Nieves Books.
Nieves Books on Hohlstrasse in Zurich
Nieves’ zines and books are fresh to the eyes that have become used to many design and art books. Zines, made from staple bound black and white photocopies, are somehow nostalgic and remind me of a teenage hobby. Or perhaps the nostalgia comes from the use of pencil- and watercolor. But then, that’s what you see everywhere these days. So what is it that makes Nieves Books so special? How can so many interesting zines and books come from Nieves Books, the smallest publisher in Switzerland? Out of curiosity and empathy for their publishing, I decided to visit their office in Zurich.
Nieves Books is indeed a one-man publishing house, founded in 2001 that focuses on producing artist publications and zines. Founder and owner Benjamin Sommerhalder is a 29-year-old Swiss who comes from a graphic design background.
The office is located on the ground floor of a curved corner building on Hohlstrasse. Vintage cars in orange and blue from a neighboring car dealer line up in front of the huge glass window, making the office look like a gas station from the 60’s. An office sign designed by graphic artist and filmmaker Mike Mills marks the office entrance.
It’s even more of a time-trip when you enter his office. There are old wooden furniture, piled-up books, posters on the wall, and more books in the back room. It’s definitely not what you expect a minimalist Swiss designer’s office to look like, but rather a messy atelier with cozy atmosphere.
Vitra furniture catalogue “The Home Collection”
The office interior reminds me of the photos in “The Home Collection”, a Vitra furniture catalogue designed by a renowned Swiss graphic designer Cornel Windlin. In this catalogue, the fascination and beauty of ordinary life styles are rediscovered. Benjamin has worked on that catalogue as a graphic designer, and some of his artists are featured.
From this office numerous zines and books travel to the hands of people who appreciate the same aesthetic that Benjamin finds print-worthy.
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