Matteo Cremonesi: I’d like you tell me something about your work, what does it mean to make a book?
Federico Barbon: Thinking back to the whole history of book over the last 50 years I think that making a book always involves risks and energies that today are clearly different from past years, I’m not just talking about the timing but also the practical means but above all the the perception we have today of the creative process behind the editorial project that is completely different.
MC: How did you approach the world of publishing?
FB: my approach to publishing was an almost obligatory step, my father is a great bibliophile and has a large collection of books ranging from literature to art, since I was a child I have always been fascinated by the books’ world.
MC: How do you make the decision to work with an author?
FB: the decision to work with an author comes from my great interest in trasform a project into a publishing work but also an interest in the work itself
MC: Do you think there are authors and works that are not suitable for an editorial project?
FB: in the history of photographic and art publishing I think there will always be unsuitable authors and works but I also think it’s a good thing to allow us to more easily discover new talents
MC: Are there books you are particularly related to and which you consider references for your work?
FB: like all graphic designers who today work in photographic publishing I can’t help but browse through books like:
- Awoiska van der Molen — Sequester (Fw: books, Amsterdam 2014)
- Stephen Shore — Uncommon Places (Aperture, New York 1982)
- Volker Heinze — Ahnung (Verlag Dirk Nishen, Berlin 1989)
- Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs — The Great Unreal (Edition Patrick Frey, Zurich 2009)
- Monica Ursina Jäger — Topographies (Kodoji Press, Baden 2014)
- Geert Goiris — Prolifération (Roma Publications, Amsterdam 2014)
- Jack Latham — Sugar Papaers Theories (Here Press, London 2016)
- Luke Stettner — History Database (SPBH, London 2016)
- Jako Kirch — Platz ist wo ́s hinkommt (Institut für Buchkunst, Leipzig 2008)
- André Gelpke – Sex-Theater ( cpress, Zurich & Spector Books, Leipzig 2015)
MC: You have a poetic practice that involves the use of always different visual and linguistic strategies, suitable from time to time to enter into a relationship with the work you tell, in many ways your role is equal or as significant as the author’s, the book you create is essentially the result of a highly personal dialogue and interpretation…
FB: in these cases the designer always becomes an author even if in a much more limited way than the real author, just think about the fact that we always give voice to the work of others through our styles
MC: Your work requires a dose of elasticity, each project requires a different attention and graphic design…
FB: as far as I’m concerned this is not always true but depends on the project. However this type of work, I mean the designer’s work, always requires an high degree of flexibility because every project takes its time.
MC: Are there any easier or more difficult projects? What’s make them different from each other?
FB: there are certainly easier and more difficult projects, the difference is always in the greatness and depth of the project to which you want to give voice.
MC: Do you believe your practice has a recognizable transversal identity in all your editorial projects?
FB: I believe that my practice doesn’t have a real identity, my style is approaching something that perhaps in the 60s-70s could be recognized as international style or Swiss style. The way I work derives from that kind of school and so I don’t feel like saying that I still have a structured style, it will surely change again in the future.
MC: Independent publishing and self-production are realities that are finding good fortune. Do you think this could affect the photographic language and the relational dynamics of an author?
FB: I don’t think that this thing can affect the relational dynamics of an author. In my opinion the editorial production becomes a follow up step, before getting to this phase it’s important to have a solid work to be able to realize an editorial project, also because the making of a book for a photographer it’s very important because we are talking about one of the ways that more faithfully represent the work of the photographer.
MC: Are there examples of independent publishing houses in Europe, in addition to Yes I am Writing a Book, of which you particularly value the work?
FB: In Europe there are many publishers whose work I admire for example:
- Art Paper Editions (Belgium)
- Triangle Books (Belgium)
- Lodret Vandret (Denmark)
- RVB Books (France)
- Choose Commune (France)
- Poursuite Editions (France)
- Shelter Press (France)
- A+M Bookstore (Italy)
- Blisterzine (Italy)
- Cura Books (Italy)
- Discipula (Italy)
- Mousse Publishing (Italy)
- Nero Magazine (Italy)
- Rorhof (Italy)
- Skinnerboox (Italy)
- Yard Press (Italy)
- Witty Kiwi (Italy)
- Self Publish Be Happy (England)
- Morel Books (England)
- Mack (England)
- Oodee (England)
- Bemojake (England)
- Here Press (England)
- Loose Joints (England)
- Drittel Books (Germany)
- Edition Taube (Germany)
- Kominek Books (Germany)
- Spector Books (Germany)
- Pogo Books (Germany)
- Steidl (Germany)
- Fw: Books (Netherlands)
- Onomatopee (Netherlands)
- Roma Publications (Netherlands)
- Meta/Books (Netherlands)
- The Eriskay Connection (Netherlands)
- Editions Du Lic (Norway)
- Libraryman (Sweden)
- B-B-B Books (Sweden)
- Edition Patrick Frey (Switzerland)
- Edition Dino Simonett / The Name Books (Switzerland)
- JRP Ringier (Switzerland)
- Kodoji Press (Switzerland)
- Spheres Publication (Switzerland)
- Sturm Und Drang (Switzerland)
- Lars Muller Publishing (Switzerland)
MC: You are studying graphic at the ECAL from a few years, do you think the attendance of this prestigious school has changed in some way your approach and vision of work?
FB: attend a school of this kind where students are asked for a big commitment and also strong presence has allowed me to change in many aspects the way of working and the vision of my work as a graphic designer, it made me open my eyes also on the quality that the production process must have in the realization of the finished product, something that less and less I can find in Italy if not in very rare cases.
I want to specify that I have deliberately decided to publish 3 Images of three authors with whom I have worked in recent years and with whom we had a wonderful exchange both human and professional that are:
- Alessandro Calabrese, A Failed Entertainment, Skinnerboox, Jesi 2017
- Riccardo Banfi, Tnx, Yes I am Writing A Book, Milan 2015
- Matteo Cremonesi, Sculpture / Printer_Office, Yes I am Writing A Book, Milan 2017
Federico Barbon is an italian graphic designer based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
He’s now attending the 2nd year Bechelor in Graphic Design at ECAL University of Art and Design, Lausanne.
website: Federico Barbon
Facebook: Federico Barbon
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