Urs Lehni


Urs Lehni

Publishing project 'Rollo Press'

Graphic Design

Jury report

A Graphic Artist and his Machine
With his 2010 award, Urs Lehni has won his third Swiss Fed­eral De­sign Award – this time for his pro­ject Rollo Press, based on the idea of en­abling small pub­li­ca­tions to be is­sued in­de­pen­dently of com­mis­sions. To date, some twenty books have been pub­lished.

In 2007, Urs Lehni ac­quired the equip­ment that lies at the heart of Rollo Press: an old screen print­ing press from the Japan­ese com­pany Riso. Sim­i­lar to a pho­to­copier, it per­mits high-speed print­ing in screen­print qual­ity. The Riso­graph GR 3770 is not only much more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly than other print­ers, but also more cost ef­fec­tive. Be­cause it is small, the Riso­graph also al­lows a cer­tain de­gree of mo­bil­ity, which Urs Lehni ex­ploits to the full. Rollo Press often goes on tour to en­hance ex­hi­bi­tions by means of tem­po­rary work­shops.

Urs Lehni was one of the first in Zurich to pro­duce books and mag­a­zines in­de­pen­dently. Ini­ti­ated by Urs Lehni and Ben­jamin Som­mer­halder (Nieves), the Zurich Zine Ses­sion has now been held two times. Zines are self-pub­lished brochures, mag­a­zines or books. They allow graphic artists to live out their ideas in­de­pen­dently of major pub­lish­ing houses. In con­trast to es­tab­lished pub­lish­ing houses, small pub­lish­ers can work much more freely, with fewer com­pro­mises. Their cre­ativ­ity is not reined in by com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions and each in­di­vid­ual step, from ini­tial con­cept to dis­tri­b­u­tion (www.​rollo-press.​com), is en­tirely in the con­trol of the in­di­vid­ual artist.

Urs Lehni took his in­spi­ra­tion in part from William Mor­ris, who, in Art and Its Pro­duc­ers and the Arts and Crafts of Today: Two Ad­dresses (1901), made the case for artists and crafts­men to be mas­ters of their own work. He saw this as the only way for them to take real plea­sure in their work and, with that, to pro­duce works of true beauty. This comes full cir­cle when the viewer takes plea­sure in the ex­tra­or­di­nary fresh­ness of the Rollo Press pub­li­ca­tions.
Anna Niederhäuser 


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