I was recently working with Kingsbury Press, a UK firm that produces astonishingly creative and high quality print, and included in this commission was a tour through their works to document their skilled processes.
What I was amazed to find was just how much of the manufacturing still depends on skilled human hands – not machines.
Having seen many examples of their beautiful hard cover books with lay-flat binding, interesting textures, gilt edges, ribbons and other luxurious details, it was an education to watch the work that goes into the production: seeing the in-house bookbinder cutting, glueing, burnishing edges, assembling components to produce immaculate bespoke boxes, carefully templating real leather, turning a huge cast iron clamp to flatten a stack of finished books; to see the teams of staff quickly and deftly applying adhesive, placing and rolling on labels and other highly detailed tasks. Even the high-tech machinery still requires skilled operators and eagle eyes to ensure everything passes the stringent quality controls.
Hugely impressive, and heartening to know that you still can’t beat the human touch.