Publishing project 'Rollo Press'
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.