Portrait: Christian Fuchs from Saalfelden, the versatile man

Do you know how a book is made? Or a menu? A calendar? And how to transform an old work into a new one? We visited the bookbindery Fuchs in Saalfelden and discovered how multi-faceted this job is. By the way: If you are interessted in bookbinding or want to learn more about this business, the bookbindery Fuchs offers a various programme of courses. 

Young and old belong together

Already at first sight, when entering the bookbindery Fuchs in Saalfelden, you can see the love to old books and the old-established business. The bookbindery reminds us a litte bit of a second-hand bookstore. Thick books with heavy leather covers, books with recipes from grandmother from the 1940s, golden picture frames, chronicles, guest books, certificates and so on. Whereas the owner of the bookbindery seems young and dynamic - Christian Fuchs. He can be described as master of bookbinding, jack of all trades and inventor. He is a man of passion for his craftsmanship that demands a lot of tact, and likes to discover and explore anything that is new to him.

The real heros of the bookbindery

It all started in 1989, when the father of Christian Fuchs, Johann Fuchs discovered an important market niche. He found out that the processing of calenders was an underrated workmanship and founded his own bookbindery in Saalfelden. His son Christian has always been by his side and supported his father. At this time he actually had other plans, he was shorty before his A-levels at high school, however, soon he was as enthusiastic about bookbinding as his father was - and that's how the family company was founded. Addititionally to the department of bookbinding, they established a department for picture frames, a department for design with digital print and a manufacture for menus. The manufacture for menus has become more and more popular in the last few years in the alpine middle Europe. Furthermore, Christian and his team have developed a range of special products, for example the ClemmUp® (a special system for clipboards for easy change of menus), the Clemmini® (a clipboard for business cards), the padCase® (an exclusive book cover with integrated mask for iPad or tablet) and the Bibliocase® (a changeable cover for books and writing pads). 

Every piece of work is unique

In contrast to other online bookbinderies, which you find everywhere around the world, at the bookbindery Fuchs in Saalfelden everything is still handmade. There are 20 employees, who fold and bind paper sheets, cut book covers, fold in corners, sharpen leather edges, emboss book covers, laser, mend and stick all day long. "In this way we can realize every special edition for our customers and we can also work on smaller orders. For us, it doesn't matter how many pieces we produce, but it is important that the quality is 100% perfect", explains Christian Fuchs, the owner of the bookbindery. He knows that his company has to be inventive to keep up with all the online companies at this time. "Because of this reason, I've always tried to improve our devices and instruments to make them more efficient and more individual so that we get the best our of them. We have already produced more than 17.000 orders of menus for various customers and every order has been different. There are ones, which are manufactured with loden, cloth, leather, metal, aluminum, acrylic, stone, wood or plexiglas as well as ones, which are embossed with gold, relief or hot foil stamping as well as engraved with laser, there is screen print or they are refined with effect paint. And even our picture frames are special - we cut everything a 100% exact and we make it exactly like the customers imagine it to be. Every piece of work is examined multiple times and there are several quality controls, before the works leave the bookbindery."

The magic of old works transformed into new ones

When walking through the bookbindery, you can feel the magic and appeal of the old works. Even after nearly 30 years of work experience, Christian Fuchs is still as enthusiastic about his profession, as he has been on his very first day. With bright eyes he shows us his newest invenstment - a original Viennese cook book from the year 1799. Yes, Christian is bookbinder wholeheartedly and everyone feels it. For him it is a tremendously special task to restore old books and prints. He tells us about an old handwritten textbook of a carpenter, on which he worked on: "The whole book was taken apart and we mended torn pages, patched stains, we sticked it and made a new cover. Furthermore, we scanned the book and reproduced it as a facsimile." The bookbinder is absolutely enthusiastic about his work. "The haptics of the handmade papersheets together with the smell of leather and glue make me happy everyday and I'm really contended with my profession." Even we feel connected with Christian's profession after our interview. 


The bookbindery of graphic art - an old profession turned into a modern one

Craftsmanship is the most important thing, even in the newest department of the bookbindery. After a general redevelopment and a renovation of the building, a department of graphic art was established at the top floor of the bookbindery. This is a living museum, with which Christian Fuchs fulfilled his dream. He collected anlog printing devices and extra equipment, for example wood letters or lead letters, as well as printing forms and typesetter instruments from all over Austria and in spring 2019, which was the 30th anniversary of the company, he opened the department of graphic art. With this department, he unites all analog graphic works in his bookbindery - starting from the processing of paper to the finished book. Moreover, if you are interessted in the making of books or art, you can visit the bookbindery and book a course. You can choose from a various range of courses, for example analog printing (letterpress printing, gravure, screen printing and litography), the processing of paper, handwritting, draw and paint, analog photography and upcycling. The combination of the various processes and materials like leather, cloth, loden, wood, metal, cardboard and different kinds of paper offer a good basis for craftsmanship. Christian Fuchs is aware of the wealth of analog graphic craftsmanship. In his company he keeps it alive. 


Our Tip:

In the programme you find thrilling courses. Christian Fuchs and his team offer courses with topics like upcycling, the process of making paper and calligraphy. 

Pictures: Buchbinderei Fuchs, Thomas Kirchmaier, Catherine Rocke, Peter Unterweissacher, Wolfgang Tanner