9.29.16 / Wood is Good
Dafi Kühne is a graphic designer/letterpress printmaker from Zürich and Glarus, Switzerland. Since 2009 he has been working full time in his studio babyinktwice, designing and printing posters, invitation cards, brochures and magazines for music, art, architecture, theater and film projects. Since 2011 he has also been teaching everything from short workshops to full semesters in various universities in Europe and the United States. He combines contemporary graphic design with old techniques—a computer, four letterpress proof and production presses from the ’60s, old lead and wood type, new lasercut wood, plexiglas or lino blocks, photopolymer plates, hand-cut lino or cardboard and so on.
Now there is a book, True Print, on his work. But before getting this volume, watch this inspiring film.
And read this excerpt by contributor David Shields:
“As a counterpoint to the contemporary work driven by visual nostalgia, there is an expanding group of designers and artists producing work experimenting with new techniques and divergent approaches to traditional modes of production. Daﬁ’s work belongs ﬁrmly in this more exploratory group of practitioners, and it clearly ‘stands out in its decidedly theoretical approach to the idea of wood type in a modern context.’ Daﬁ’s work can be framed by a series of dichotomies that provide a productive tension in regard to form, content and production. The work is ﬁrmly grounded in two approaches: that of the pragmatic commercial printer and that of the experimental designer. The pragmatics of the printer is dependent in the economic need to produce work for a client as quickly and efﬁciently as possible. The experimental approach grapples with the meaning of the form and works at challenging the visual elasticity of the compositional space, all the while engaging the materials of production with questions that challenge the limits and working parameters of what the materials can produce. By combining these seemingly antithetical approaches, Daﬁ uniquely carves out a hybrid space for both experiment and production. This binary informs his choice and use of tools and materials. Interesting juxtapositions result: new and old, high and low, fast and slow, precious and ephemeral, course and reﬁned.”
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is the co-founder and the co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts. He writes the Visuals column for the New York Times Book Review and the Graphic Content blog for T-Style. He is the author, coauthor, and/or editor of more than 120 books on design and popular culture, including the recent book Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig (Chronicle).