Wood is Good

Posted inThe Daily Heller
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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.”


Put Your Type to the Test.

All too often, typography gets overlooked in larger design competitions—which is why we developed one that gives the artforms their full due and recognizes the best designers in each category. Whether you design your own typefaces, design type-centric pieces or create gorgeous handlettered projects, we want to see your work—and share it with our readers.

Enter today for a chance to be featured in Print magazine, receive a prize pack from MyDesignShop.com, and more. Early bird rates for the competition—which features both pro and student categories—end Oct. 14!


Dafi Kühne: Letterpress, Posters & Process

True Print: Breaking Letterpress Rules

2012 New Visual Artist: Dafi Kühne

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →