Sonnenzimmer: The Book


A poster doesn’t have to be just a poster. In the hands of Sonnenzimmer, every poster is an opportunity. Every poster is a reason for inquiry and experimentation.

In the new book, Warp and Weft: Poster Construction, Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi of Sonnenzimmer attempt to survey seven years of intense poster production. It’s not a catalogue of everything from their immense oeuvre, it’s a selection they use to tell the story of their process. Each piece featured in the book includes extensive notes about background and context as well as an explanation of Sonnenzimmer’s aesthetic ideas for the piece. The book provides a fascinating look into their conceptual framework and shares bits of art, design, and typographic history, thoughts on music and sound, and reflection on their medium of choice, silkscreen.

From Magritte to John Maeda and Guillaume Apollinaire’s Caligrammes visual poetry to the music of famed Jazz multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, Butcher and Nakanishi present an encyclopedia of influence that spans across disciplines. An exploration of history and theory, it’s a testament to ideas not existing in a vacuum. Their analysis is expansive and occasionally critical. At one point, they write “…don’t confuse effective graphics with new ideas. This is faux modernity…” This notion seems to run counter to much of the poster-making world where effective graphics are often the only goal and allusion to modernity, faux or otherwise, is a moot point. Sonnenzimmer isn’t just about pretty pictures.

It’s a challenge to summarize this kind of collaboration but Nick and Nadine manage to pull it off. As they explain their approach, they weave stories about people, places, and events. Part studio manual and part diary, Warp and Weft: Poster Construction is really great view into the various forces and factors that shape the design/art balance. This book is a must have for anyone interested in graphic art, design, posters, silkscreen, or process.

Tom Biederbeck at Felt & Wire has a really fantastic interview with Sonnenzimmer about their new magnum opus. You should check it out. And the book is available for purchase here.

(Photo credits: Sonnenzimmer)

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