Florian Kohler runs an innovative paper factory with a rich heritage in Gmund. He has just developed a new variety of paper with the Bauhaus Dessau. Walter Knoll’s Characters magazine is printed on this very paper
Mr. Kohler, why does the world need Bauhaus paper?
Besides wood, paper was the most important material in Bauhaus doctrine. Only a few people are aware of this today. We wanted a paper that had the impact of a Bauhaus building. Modern, aesthetical and discreet.
How did you get from the idea to the material?
Our papers are emotional; we convey the essence of a brand through the quality of the paper. But in order to trigger a feeling, you first have to experience one yourself. So we did a lot of research and went to our company archive – we’re the oldest designer paper factory in the world – and we had a look at what we produced ourselves a hundred years ago. And of course we went to the Bauhaus in Dessau to get a sense of the atmosphere of that creative space.
What does the Bauhaus brand mean?
Design for everyone – that was one of the fundamental ideas of the Bauhaus. We felt bound to express that. The result is a discreet, completely neutral paper – without effects, without structure – that embodies perfect simplicity. A paper that is excellent in every respect, yet is affordable. We have made a democratic paper.
It is said that a blank page has no story to tell. You would probably disagree with that.
If I believed that, I wouldn’t like my work as much as I do. Of course paper speaks to us, even if it’s blank. It is not as if wood has nothing to say until you make a chair out of it. We coated the winning cards for the Oscars with gold, large car companies order papers from us with a metallic sheen, and we also design wedding invitations when asked by a manager like Marissa Mayer from Silicon Valley. There is no one in the world who covers such a broad spectrum as we do. We don’t just make paper, we communicate via paper.
Who writes or prints on the Bauhaus Dessau paper by Gmund?
Most of our customers are bulk buyers who use it to produce brochures, catalogs and illustrated books. It is a natural paper, but it is also good to print on. For example, if people open this Walter Knoll magazine and for a moment feel like they can step into the photo in front of them, then we have done a good job.
Why is the paper available in two different shades of white?
The first white is completely neutral, without any hint of color. The paper should step back completely behind whatever is printed on it. Brightness, functionality, materiality – that’s what Bauhaus is about. In contrast, we have given the other white a bluish tone, which lends it a very modern, groundbreaking quality. This paper says, “something new starts with me.” Because that is also what the Bauhaus stood for – the courage to have a vision, to make a departure.
Florian Kohler is the fourth generation of his family to run Gmund Papier. The origins of the company in the Upper Bavarian Mangfall Valley go back to the year 1829. In 2011, the company became world famous when it produced the envelopes and the winning cards for the Academy Awards. Like Walter Knoll, the paper factory is a member of the “Meisterkreis”, a network of companies, institutions, and people committed to creativity and quality. www.meisterkreis-deutschland.com