STEIDL DECK: 1001 STEIDL BOOKS
Client: DECK, Singapore
Scope: Exhibition Design
Location: 120A Prinsep Street, Singapore 187937
Art Direction & Visual Identity: WORK
Writer: In Plain Words
Project Assistant: Meiska Priscita
Handwritten Description: Gerhard Steidl
Photography: Marc Tan
DECK is an independent art space with the mission of supporting and nurturing the community of photography enthusiasts in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Steidl is a renowned German-language publisher, an international publisher of photo books, and a printing company, based in Göttingen, Germany.
We were introduced to the world of Steidl Verlag through Koto Bolofo’s photo book “I Spy with My Little Eye Something Beginning with S”, published by Steidl. The photos were taken on such personal level, one would be immersed into the world of Gerhard Steidl and his dedicated team. Inspired by the book, we were determined to design this exhibition on a personal level too. In our understanding, capturing the essence of both Steidl and DECK into one house – an industrious and spirited attitude.
A collaborative effort with Theseus Chan (WORK). Ernest Ho (WORK) worked on the visual identity and Justin Zhuang (In Plain Words) is the writer of the exhibition.
Library (Gallery One)
The first gallery consists of a library of photo books published by Steidl. The books on the galvanised Metalsistem shelves are not in specific categories or any order because every Steidl book is an encounter and each book is special. The existing structural supports were highlighted to symbolise the library as the pivot of the space. One would walk around, pull out a book and find a seat to enjoy the book and its content. Selected books of different sizes float off the wall on one side to display the beautiful book covers of the various artists Steidl has worked with. Above the reading tables, Gerhard Steidl’s passion outlines the library space in the form of a typewritten message.
Process Room (Gallery Two)
Behind each beautifully crafted Steidl book lies an extremely industrious process. Through Koto Bolofo’s eye, objects and tools were the evidences of the hands-on dedication of Steidl’s people. In the same spirit, we wanted these tools and materials -mock-up books, front-end papers, book cover fabrics, color charts, ink pots, brass stamping plates and even Gerhard Steidl’s personal lab coat- to form the the displayed elements in the space. Thus, we created an experience for visitors to circle around the long display table to view and understand these items, and to touch and feel those materials they encounter along the walls. Each item explains its involvement and usefulness in the process of printing a book.
The Process Room tries to recreate this dynamic atmosphere and this stood in contrast to the Library, a place of quiet encounters. At the same time, the Process Room visually connects to the Library with the similar treatment of highlighted structural supports.
A diagram illustrated by WORK, explains how Gerhard Steidl thinks about Steidl Verlag and the romantic relationship of how he considers “Ideas coming from heaven” as the first step, with the top floor library as the second step. The ideas start to physicalise as they travel down to the ground floor where books are sent out in crates. Arranged from start to end, the whimsical photos from Koto Bolofo’s new book ‘PRINTING’ is an unconventional narrative to the print making process.
Visitors are encouraged to participate in a hands-on activity of analogue letterset printing, keeping a souvenir as remembrance of the exhibition. Stacks of various prints are also for take-away, hopefully to inspire and be appreciated.