Vivóeusébio about paper
What is your favorite paper and why?
That’s a tricky question because each paper has its own identity, and its use depends on the project you’re working on. So it’s like asking which one of your children is your favourite. 🙂
We can however say that normally we don’t like to use expensive and very glamorous papers. We believe that knowledge and the objects which communicate it should be accessible to everyone, so if the use of a specific paper significantly increases the final price of a book, we prefer not to use it. We like papers that are “rough”, that have a natural color, and even better, grainy. I think that 1.2 or 1.5 bulk is the best. Some recycled papers are very interesting too, because their little flaws give them character and personality. If you are interacting with a material you should be able to really feel it. We like visiting old paper shops where you can find old office papers with amazing colours, that sound and smell great too.
Could you give an example of a design you created where paper played a special or particularly functional role?
We can name two, each through its own approach.
We were invited to create an intervention on the Ermida da Nossa Senhora da Conceição’s facade in Belém and, inspired by the “Sermão de Santo António aos Peixes” by Padre António Vieira, we designed and produced a small publication containing the sermon’s text.
It is an old text written by a priest, so our idea was to use 50 grammes bible paper, in a small A6 booklet. Interestingly,we found the best paper in an old stationery shop, and printed 300 copies from our Riso printer.
The other example is a collection for Athena, an editor who works with art critics and art studies. Since we were dealing with big theorical texts, we wanted to subvert the expectations – where you usually find a hardcover, thick, classic book, we chose a very flexible paper that, along with our particular graphic project for the collection, invited the reader to take the book along and see it with a different mindset.
How important is the choice of paper in your designs? Do you spend a lot of time choosing the paper?
The choice of paper, based on its qualities, is as important as the choice of format, font, materials, finishing, etc. If one of these aspects is neglected, the final result will suffer. Sometimes it can be a very exhaustive research process, but it is all about pinpoint decisions that make all the difference. In the end, the best result is when the effort is not visible: the simpler the solution seems, the better.
Could you mention a designer whose paper choice appeals to you?
We were impressed with the way Irma Boom talked about this kind of decisions, when she was here in Portugal. Again, the final result seems so natural and easy, but that is because “invisible” and very accurate decisions were made.
Is there something missing in the current range of available paper?
Well, there was this time that we wanted to work with very thin and colored paper, and it wasn’t available on the market.
What is your biggest frustration in the field of paper?
A lot of the times we see in a publication a paper we wanted to use, and we can’t find it here in Portugal. We talk with the printhouses and the distributors, but it is always a struggle. In the best of cases, you finally find a printhouse which can order it, but then it takes too long to be delivered, or it’s too expensive, and you can’t use it. Other times, you choose the paper from a paper catalog but they don’t have it in store so it takes a few weeks for the paper to be delivered. Another problem is that during most projects the time left for this kind of matters is very short, because of delays, changes, and very tight deadlines. In the end, when everybody is under pressure, you have to choose the safest way and adopt the solutions you are more comfortable with.
Is it difficult or easy for designers in your country to find information on paper, paper samples and/or paper collections?
For papers that are distributed in Portugal, it is fairly easy. We talk to the brand representatives and they keep us updated on the papers and catalogues which are available. But we can only think of two paper distributors that work here… so that is a very limited market.
How do you see the future of paper?
We think that paper, and printed objects will always have a place. From what we can see, currently much less is being printed than before and so, the choice of paper will also decrease. But basic and cheap papers (like the ior and couch) and the higher end papers will always be around. We would like to have some options that could somehow offer a sort of interaction or added value to digital solutions. This borders on fantasy and sci-fi, but e-ink is real, so maybe were not so far from those options.
Interview by Cristina Poiata (De Monsterkamer) with Vivóeusébio