It’s probably fair to say that Friederike von Hellermann had won us over before we’d even started speaking.
Not only is her atelier in a Halle courtyard that owes more to the pastoral calm of the Rheingau than the middle of an East German industrial town.
But she also has vintage barber shop chairs.
A dream in height adjustable leather and chrome.
From an original plan to follow a career as a bookbinder, Friederike von Hellermann began studying Book Arts and Crafts at the London College of Printing, before undertaking a Masters course at Burg Giebichenstein. Following the completion of her studies in 2010 she established her own studio in Halle from which she both produces her own works in small series and undertakes contract work for clients.
For Friederike the work is more than “just” graphic design or “just” bookbinding; the fascination lies in the book itself. “The “book” part of the work is central, I think it’s because with a book one has so many facets; you work with text, you work with graphics and then at the end you have something that you can hold in the hand”
But does she not see what she does as part of a dying trade? Does she feel threatened by modern technology and E-books?
Not at all.
“For me the more electronic media establishes itself the more the demand for handmade books, with specially chosen paper and which sit nicely in the hand will increase. Because it is something special”
After three years exhibiting at Grassimesse as part of the Burg Giebichenstein collective show Friederike is making her solo debut at Grassimesse 2011.
But the question is, does her book art fit into what is traditionally more a craft fair?
“That’s a valid question because with what I do I sit a little between art and craft. But for me the Grassimesse isn’t just a craft fair but rather an applied art fair. And so I think I belong. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough…”
And looking to the future is she confident that all will be well. “Yes. One never knows for sure but I think that if things continue as they have until now that one can build a successful career. Sometimes I think, why am I doing this? But at the same time I simply can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
At Grassimesse 2011 Friederike von Hellermann will be displaying a selection of her books and screen prints.