A bookbinder—a craftsman who hand-folds, hand-sews, and hand-cuts books—is a dream client for many graphic designers. It’s no wonder creative agency &Larry were excited to work on the rebranding for Bynd Artisan, a new atelier set up by stationery and leather craft goods manufacturer Grandluxe to promote the craft of bookbinding in Singapore.
Despite the client’s wealth of heritage and tradition (they go back three generations), &Larry was careful not to historicize the subject for the contemporary audience. Instead, creative director Larry Peh and his team went the modern and elegant aesthetic, a signature style of &Larry that has won the decade-old studio much acclaim, including most recently, Singapore’s President’s Design Award Designer of the Year in 2014.
“From the outset, we were sure that this project should not be a pastiche of nostalgia that’s rampant in the visual landscape today,” Peh said. “By speaking to two generations of founders, we realized that there was a wealth of expertise and knowledge that they wanted to share with their consumers.”
Conscious of the unbridled sharing in our age of social media, &Larry came up with the ethos of “Something’s Worth Sharing” for Bynd Artisan to highlight the work and skills of the company’s craftsmen. This guided the design of a brochure, a series of postcards and the company’s workshop annexed in Grandluxe’s Singapore headquarters.
In all three components, tactility was a major design feature. The booklet relayed Bynd Artisan’s heritage using an assortment of paper sizes and stocks that were hand-bound in three different thread colors. The typographical postcards were letterpressed and screen-printed with elements that reference the bookbinding process. The workshop, created in collaboration with interior architects LAANK, encouraged visitors to explore its exposed brick walls and ceiling as well as its open shelves by touch.
Living up to its mission, all the print materials were made by Bynd Artisan’s in-house team, led by master craftsman Mr. Chong Beng Cheng. Originally hired as a sales manager over four decades ago, the now 72-year-old Chong mastered the bookbinding craft on the job, and today leads workshops at the atelier. Peh called it a “truly humbling” experience working alongside the passionate and patient craftsman who also collaborated with him to create a series of posters for the new space. Noticing the scrap materials produced by the craftsman while working, Peh suggested using the medley of paper scraps, leftover leather patches, and bookbinding supplies to make a series of one-off posters that are something worth sharing.