Experimental micro-printing collective Letterproeftuin make a big impression at Pick Me Up festival.

Experimental micro-printing collective Letterproeftuin make a big impression at Pick Me Up festival.

United by a love for print, three Dutch designers established what would become the world’s smallest printing company, Letterproeftuin in 2010.  Yorit Kluitman, Timon van der Hijden and Jaron Korvinus formed the collective to provide an ideal playground and workspace for designers.

Letterproeftuin started life as a one-week workshop in Rotterdam, where the trio worked with eight other designers in a self-built graphics laboratory. The success of this event lead to others like it. For Chaumont Poster Festival in 2012 they decided to go mobile and bring their lab with them.

Where they once filled a section of a room, their micro-printing factory can now be easily accommodated by one small table. They managed to scale the process down so far by developing a teeny-tiny Viprotech silk screen table and a scale model Roco-Ets V50. There’s now little doubt as to their claim to be ‘The World’s Smallest Print Company’.

The hands-on attitude of their space feels very true to the Pick Me Up spirit of immediate art, but the work they’ve produced at the festival has an amazing finish. The printed cards are displayed on a wooden tray, with with each row demonstrating a different technique. Yorit loomed over the beautiful machines like Gulliver next to some Lilliputian gadget whilst Huck spoke to him about the miniature printing project.

Why so tiny?
The Smallest Printing Company was specially developed for the Chaumont Poster Festival in 2013. We did a project there in 2012 with a lot of heavy equipment and they invited us back again in 2013. For us, the main goal was to travel light, so an idea to “shrink” our whole installation into something portable was born.

What is your plan for Pick Me Up?
We came with no work at all, so it was all hands on deck from the start of the event. We have been experimenting with some new materials that we haven’t tried before and there are a few nice guest designers coming to spend a day with us working on our machines, too. Hopefully we can exchange some good ideas over the course of the festival.

How do you feel about the results of the experiments so far?
We think the results are O.K. Some things just don’t work, so that makes room for new ideas. Printing with clay worked really well so we are going to scale that up and make it into a new project.

Do you have any plans to sell these printers one day?
After a few popular blogs wrote about our project, lots of inquiries came flooding in. But we have a handshake deal with the builder of the presses that it was going to be a one-off, so we have to stick to that plan.

Do you have any future projects in mind?
The creative energy in London is immense, so hopefully that energy pushes us in a new direction. But we already have an ever-changing list of projects which we hope to carry out in the near future. The next has to be completely different to the last, so we are always on the look out for new techniques. We were thinking about making our own line of paper.

Pick Me Up runs until Monday May 5, 2014 at Somerset House, London.