What’s the deal with Gerhard Steidl?

Gerhard Steidl
I blame Gerhard Steidl for the reason I nearly break my neck every time I descend the steps into my office. The fact is, I have a confession: I have a book problem. Books are OK to spend money on, right? They’re objects of learning and curiosity and they’re also symbolic of taking time in a sped up word. And some are objects of beauty even more ravishing than a Prada shoe or a Valentino sweater. Well that’s what I tell myself and why I have amassed so many wonderful tomes. Too many for my poor overloaded bookshelves, hence the zig-zagging piles on steps that I trip over a dozen times a day.

And the Steidl books are the loveliest of all.

Steidl books are not like other books. They have at times been likened to couture items. Fact: Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel’s books (and many other printed products) are designed, published and printed by Gerhard Steidl. He is considered the best in the world for his dedication and unwavering attention to detail. The world’s most revered photographers wait to be summoned to his factory in Göttingen, Germany where they stay in his private guesthouse and kill time in his library until he’s ready to discuss their book.

Gerhard Steidl

But he is no diva. This excellent long read in The New Yorker portrays him as a man utterly consumed with passion for paper, printing and ink. It’s a very interesting insight into how he runs his company, taking on loss-leading art projects for the love of the artists, the process and the storytelling.

Read it on a train or plane journey, you’ll come away energised and inspired. Here’s my favourite Gerhard Steidl quote…

“If you read a book, or a visual book—for me, it is all reading—or if you are in a gallery or a museum, and the curated show was done by an educated person, that educates you visually. That all adds up. I will not say it brings you to a higher level, but it makes life more valuable, than to be stupid.”
Gerhard Steidl


Afterwards (or before), do hunt out the film, How to Make a Book With Steidl

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Mark Peckmezian for The New Yorker
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