Mireille Burkhardt, Swiss graphic designer, co-founder and Creative Director of London/Zurich-based BOB studio.

Hello Mireille, how are you?

I am very well, thank you.

Can you introduce yourself?

I am a Swiss graphic designer. I grew up in Zurich and went on to study graphic design at Kingston University in London and Hongik University in Seoul. I work as a Creative Director at London/Zurich-based BOB studio, which I co-founded in 2002. I also co-founded Bob Books — an online photobook producer and publisher — in 2007 and guest lecture in graphic design at both Kingston and Central Saint Martins.

Where does your interest in graphic design come from?

I guess, growing up, I was always surrounded by design and craft at my family’s bookbindery Bubu. We used to go there sometimes at the weekend, don big white overcoats and then make all sorts of things with leather and paper offcuts. I am also very lucky to have always had an amazing supply of beautifully designed and produced books which are a continuing source of inspiration to this day.

How did you come to start up your studio?

I co-founded BOB in 2002 with two classmates from my time at Kingston. I think a mixture of factors led to our just going ahead and doing it: an entrepreneurial spirit; a desire to have the freedom to design in a way we believed in; a naivety about what running your own business actually involves — so we weren’t afraid of taking the step.

How did you approach the rebranding of bubu, the great binding company founded by your grandfather?

We worked very closely with my brother Christan Burkhardt (who has joined Thomas Freitag as managing director in 2014) on the new vision and strategy for the business. This led to us removing the actual physical book and the full name Buchbinderei Burkhardt from the brand. Instead we concentrated on the verb and act of binding. This is a flexible enough term to expand to relate to emerging media and diverse products and services while still strongly honouring 74 years of tradition. We agreed with Bubu that audiences should understand that Bubu binds books but also binds innovation, tradition and vision going forward into a new era.

We began building the visual branding with a ligature between bubu’s two bu’s. This acknowledges the original words ’Buchbinderei’ and ‘Burkhardt’ and launches a graphic language of crafted connections which continues out through illustrative line across the printed materials and website, supported by the claim ’We bind’ in four languages.

Who are the designers that you admire?

Swiss artist Bianca Brunner for beautiful graphic photography; Armin Hofmann for Swissness; Graphic Thought Facility for being able to produce great design for both cultural and big commercial clients; Pentagram for having an idea at the heart of each project; Laurent Benner for his book designs; Consuelo Castiglioni for colours and mixing materials; Christoph Niemann for his animated app; Mio Matsumoto and Laura Carlin for illustration.

What stimulates you outside graphic design?

My four-year-old daughter’s imaginative mind surprises and inspires me on a daily basis.

I also love sharing our London studio with Haptic. Their model making, wire cutting, material library is very stimulating — as well as their entrepreneurial drive and ambition.

Which books are on your bedside table?

– The Giraffe’s Neck, Judith Schalansky
– Über den Winter, Rolf Lappert
– Die kleine Hexe, Otfried Preussler

The last word…

Thanks very much for the interview.


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Interview: Dennis Moya & Tiffany Bähler — 12.15

Pictures ©Bob Studio.

Graphic Design