As a rule, wow-inducing projects do not come easy. The designer may hatch a fantastic, albeit abstract, idea that would fall flat during the dummy-making stage. The production director may want to speed up the manufacturing process without considering that glue, ink, and paper take time to dry well and should not be rushed. Worse, those materials that seem oh so appropriate for the fantastic project may come with a hefty price tag way beyond initial projections, or a nightmare to source. The onus is then on the print manufacturer to juggle the inconceivable, the impossible, and the impractical to come up with the right solution—and deliver on time, at high quality, and within budget.
Here are several recent examples—chosen arbitrarily from a long list—that attest to Hong Kong and China print manufacturers' impressive capabilities and can-do spirit.
From Asia Pacific Offset
Ten facsimile documents printed on an assortment of papers—for texture variation and realistic reproduction—are the highlight of Russia of the Tsars and the Slave Trade from Thames & Hudson. "These documents go into a rectangular pocket on the inside back cover, and we produced the pocket using Wibalin gusset to increase its flexibility and durability," says president Andrew Clarke. Then there is Andrews McMeel's A Doonesbury Retrospective, a 696-page slipcased volume chronicling the comic strip's 40-year run, which comes with a four-page foldout map detailing the complex relationship matrix spanning three generations.
From C&C Offset
The 300-page Eco House Book from designer Terence Conran does not just talk about environmental-friendly home improvement. It is itself ecofriendly. "About 90% of the materials used in it are FSC-certified, and the rest are green, too, such as gray board for the cover and recyclable shrink-wrapping film for packing," says deputy general manager Ivy Lam. The book went on to win the silver medal at IAPHC 2010 in recognition of C&C's production capabilities and stringent quality control.
A book from the French Foxy Lady Project SAS, 20th Century Legendary Guitars: Lifesize Photographs, which approximates the size and shape of an actual guitar was a challenge from start to finish. Measuring 109-cm. × 47.3-cm., the 124-page book with a pull-out poster required four rounds of dummy-making. Its bigger-than-usual dimension called for large-format printing, meticulous planning to avoid massive paper wastage, and a much longer production schedule. "Every step in the binding process had to be done manually, including folding of the eight-page endpapers, case making, and casing in," says deputy managing director Francis Kwok, whose team also had to figure out the most suitable pallet and container for shipping the unusual book to avoid damage during transit.
From Regal Printing
The limited edition of Luxury House 2010–2011, published by Hong Kong Economic Times, comes in a clam-shell box with a sheet of stamps from the Hong Kong Post Office and a wooden bookmark with the recipient's name laser-engraved on it. But the most unusual part of this project is the bamboo case cover. "For that, we had to source a vendor to strip the bamboo, hand-sew the strips together, dye it in a specific color, and dry it under the sun to remove the moisture. We then cut the bamboo piece to size, glued it to the cover and used laser engraving to deboss the book title," says managing director Maurice Kwan, who has the satisfaction of seeing this title win the gold at the China Print Awards 2010 and the IAPHC 2010.