The Backstory Behind “Obsessions”

At age 68 when Kit left his partnership at Pentagram after 23 years to set up his own independent studio, we discussed how it would give him the luxury of doing what he wanted to do simply because he wanted to do it. Since I’m not that far behind him in years, I understood the importance of the question, “if not now, when?” Speaking for myself, when I fantasized about becoming a writer in high school, I didn’t have corporate brochures and power point presentations in mind (not that I’m complaining). Our quasi-serious venture, Hirasuna + Hinrichs Special Projects – or as Kit calls it “Hinrichs + Hirasuna Special Projects” – was intended to set aside a small portion of our time and energy to focus on the topics we found of compelling personal interest, whether it was profitable or not. We promised to take turns choosing the topic, since the things that interest me don’t necessarily interest him, and vice versa. Our first project is “Obsessions,” a series of small perfect-bound books on things that fascinate us, even though others may find that inexplicably odd. Kit’s collection of alphabet postcards, an offshoot of his passion for typography, launches the series. We also agreed that the production value must live up to our high standards – i.e., nothing cheesy. This is why it was printed beautifully by Blanchette Press on Sappi McCoy Silk.

The Alphabet Card book is about the late 19th century fad of collecting picture postcards that prominently featured a single letter of the alphabet. Affordable multi-color printing was in its infancy then. Telephones and roll-film cameras didn’t yet exist, so people would send postcards to friends, even in the same town. People displayed their postcards in scrapbooks for all to enjoy. Postcard makers found a way to get consumers addicted to collecting by issuing postcards in sets. Alphabet cards were perfect because everyone knew they had to have all 26 and could easily tell which one they were missing by looking at the letter. There’s more to this story, of course, but you’ll have to get the book, available on the Studio Hinrichs website.