Introducing our special-edition art print, created by the Zwölf design studio using a custom tea pigment.
Paper and tea, in perfect harmony.
With his mop of curly hair, wildly splattered lab coat, and rapid-fire speech, Stefan Guzy has a slight air of mad scientist about him. He gestures before him to a saucepan filled with a thick, dark-brown tea concoction. He stops talking to dip a finger in and taste the drop that clings to his pinky. “Over-steeped,” he concludes wryly. No wonder – the tea brew was left to steep for around 10 minutes and then simmered down for another 30 to become the concentrated brew it is now.
He adds thick globs of binding agent and brandishes a whirring electric mixer that’s as splattered as his lab coat. It’s the kind usually used for whipping cake batter into smooth submission, but Stefan is no baker. He’s mixing a custom, one-off pigment made from rare Kenyan tea, which he and business partner Björn Wiede will be using to print a 100-piece run of limited-edition P & T art prints.
Stefan and Björn are the creative brains behind Zwölf, a Berlin design studio that makes things like posters, packaging, album covers, and art prints for a variety of clients. Design whiz kids though they may be, their biggest passion at the moment is screenprinting, a craft that they prize over today’s ubiquitous digital printing options. Screenprinting gives more vibrant, lustrous colors and lends a noticeable personal touch, says Björn. Perhaps most importantly, it gives them the freedom to play around with creating their own pigments, a playful approach that become one of their trademarks. They’ve printed with such materials as nail polish, honey, wine, and children’s plasticine before.
The historic factory building that houses their studio is on one of the trendiest stretches of Kreuzberg’s canal. But back here in the second courtyard, there are no signs of the hustle and bustle of the outside world. This is a place for getting down to work, a home base for makers and creators. Zwölf shares the building with graphic designers, a music studio, a vinyl label, a dance studio, even a car repair shop. And their talent is in demand: they’re in the midst of renovating, expanding their space to add a variety of new facilities, including a woodworking room where they plan to create custom frames and other accessories for their prints.
With the tea “ink” ready, the paper painstakingly aligned, and the design’s screen template in place, it’s action time. With each pull of the big printing apparatus’s arm, the carefully applied pigment is swept onto the paper below, a thick, pleasingly textured Italian card stock to absorb the water-based ink, Stefan explains. It’s a physically demanding, full-body effort, the polar opposite of pressing a few buttons on a keyboard – which is kind of the point.
We love the results, which are not only gorgeous, they are also the perfect marriage of paper and tea, the two goods we are most passionate about (and give us our name). Check out our regular-edition “My Dear” art prints. Featuring the same design as the limited-edition prints, these ones are also screenprinted and embossed by hand by Stefan and Björn, using regular black ink instead of tea pigment.
To see more work from Stefan and Björn, visit the Zwölf studio’s website.