Book review – Dafi Kühne – TRUE PRINT (Lars Müller Publishers)

Svenska / English

Text: Meryem Saadi, Photo credit: Courtesy the artist Dafi Kühne / Lars Müller Publishers

In 2016, swiss graphic designer Dafi Kühne published his first book including an overview of his posters which combine contemporary graphic design with old techniques, including letterpress. The result is a stunning book, with high quality reproductions of the physical work and very interesting texts about his practice.

TRUE PRINT starts with a contribution by Rudolf Barmettler where he gives the reader background about Kühne and his work, writing that “he always aims to avoid his design looking in any way ’retro’ or ’handmade.’ He staunchly opposes romanticized, conventional ideas about wood type and centered composition, and also refuses to idealize nineteenth and early twentieth-century print technologies. Instead, he seeks out new potential for digital and analog design, as well as possible new approaches to and materials for the letterpress process, beyond the familiar metal type, wood type, and linoleum”. A second text signed by David Shields explains the influence of America’s letterpress printing on Kühne’s work, especially after his internship at the Hatch Show Print Studio in Nashville.

After reading those, the reader can finally discover Kühne’s diverse and impressive work. All the eighty remarkable posters shown in TRUE PRINT had to be professionally photographed. This operation was made possible with the help of the Zürich Museum für Gestaltung, which already had all of Kühne’s posters in it collection. A very fastidious process due to the fact that it was very hard to get the depth of some of the posters printed in 10 color runs and some neon colors. When asked about this challenge, Kühne explains that “this is the reason why the lithographer had to work for hours and hours on the digital files. Each poster that is reproduced in the book had to be wet proofed on the real offset production press between 2–4 times. […] This was quite a complex back and forth process between the lithographer and the offset printer. But it was worth it. I really think the poster reproductions in the book are brilliant. I am really happy with it”. And so we are!

The book includes also beautiful black and white pictures taken by Peter Hauser, giving the reader a “behind the scene” look of Kühne’s work process in his studio in Näfels, Switzerland.

More info about the book here.