Graz has a wealth of small creative businesses and traditional specialised shops woven into its urban fabric, which bind community and architecture into a living city centre. It’s a valuable asset that could disappear if we don’t sustain it by ‘shopping local’.
In the first of the ‘Shop Local’ series, Kate Howlett-Jones takes a look at the Bauer print studio “DruckZeug” in the Graz Annenviertel.
A drop of ink
Take a short cut from Annenstraße through the courtyard of the former Bürgerspital, and you will very likely notice the banging and whirring coming from the building on the left. Take a look inside (the door’s always open) and you’ll be rewarded with the glimpse of a typographer’s trove: drawer upon drawer of old-fashioned letter blocks of wood and lead, typesetting gadgets, rows of heavy printing presses, and the smell of ink.
Once the Bürgerspital hospital’s kitchens, the building has been home to a printer’s since 1867. The typesetter August Wagner first owned the business, then sold to Alexander Bauer in 1914; his son took over in 1940. In 1971 the shop passed to granddaughter Edith Bauer, one of the first women ever to graduate from the Höhere Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt (Institute of Graphics) in Vienna.
Bauer offered traditional printing services such as posters, newspapers and commercial printing. In 1980 there were still 16 printers in Graz, 13 of which were located in the city centre; then came the new digital printing technology and their rapid decline. Contracts started going to large-scale, out-of-town printers and the firm faltered. Local printer Wolfgang Khil then stepped in and rescued the historic workshop, also saving Bauer from bankruptcy. Until now he has managed to keep the print studio from closure, but a longer-term course of action is needed to save the workshop from falling into disuse.
The plan now is to run printing workshops that will keep the print studio in use for the future and preserve the cultural and social legacy of the print studio—and also keep the knowledge and skills of traditional bookcraft alive in Graz. A number of innovative projects and events devised by the DruckZeug society are up and running. Edith Bauer still comes to “her” studio nearly every day; Wolfgang Khil understands her connection to the Druckerei.
The Bürgerspital courtyard is a historical piece of the Annenviertel, but it is the Bauer studio—with the whirring of its presses and the smell of ink—that takes this courtyard beyond being attractive yet silent architecture, and transforms it into an urban site of charisma.
15./16.06.2012, bei Interesse auch am 17.6.
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DruckZeug – Buchdruckerei Alexander Bauer, Annenstraße 19/Hof, (Zugang über Annenstraße und Dominikanergasse), 8020 Graz
WANN? Immer dienstags ab 19.00 Uhr in der Druckerei oder nebenan im Büro der Nachbarschaften, Kernstockgasse 20, 8020 Graz
Verein DruckZeug, ZVR-Zahl 815278149
Zustelladresse: Neutorgasse 26, 8010 Graz