Behind an unassuming storefront in the center of Bogota sits a cozy bookbinding workshop with an impressive array of beautifully crafted books, Ricardo Corazon de Papel. Ricardo Aguirre's shop is one of those hidden treasures that brings great delight to all of us "cool" seekers. After 10 years of operating, his shop has gained some serious street cred as the best of the best. We hung out with Ricardo one afternoon to chat about his craft. The following are some excerpts from our conversation (translated from Spanish and paraphrased).
How did you start bookbinding?
Years ago, in the 1980s, I was working as an assistant for the brilliant bookbinder, Miguel Fajardo. Watching Miguel work was an inspiration for me. I really fell in love with books during this time, especially old books. I started experimenting with bookbinding, but just little projects here and there. In 1996, I began working with book restoration as well. My dream became quite clear - I wanted to own my own bookbinding and restoration workshop. So I went back to work with Miguel. This time I was really focused. I learned as much as I could about the different binding techniques. In 2002, I opened up my own workshop and it's done very well. I have the privilege to be able to continue to learn and experiment as a craftsman here in my own shop.
Tell us about your workshop.
We operate using 100% traditional methods of bookmaking. We work by hand for the majority of the process and we use all antique, hand-operated machines.
Tell us about your style.
When I make a book, I consider two things: what are the visual and physical experiences I want to cultivate with this particular book? The physical qualities of a book are essential to its personality. The thickness and texture of its pages. The width of it's spine. Will it be a hard or soft cover? These physical attributes define the user's experience in subtle ways. Think of the difference between a small journal with a sleek black leather cover and smooth, bright white pages versus a large journal with a cover made from brown leather with a deep patina and beige, textured pages. These two journals will stimulate different kinds of experiences. Visually speaking, I tend to lean towards a more classic aesthetic. As I mentioned earlier, old books are part of what drew me to this craft. I think there's something really poetic about traditional-looking books, though I also love to experiment with unusual materials and styles. We have a lot of fun with design here. Nothing is impossible.