L’Atelier du Relieur has been in the bookbinding, cardboarding, goldplating, and restoration business since 2009, extending its services to private and professional customers alike.
Bookbinding, already considered an art form in Roman times, requires an ancestral know-how that is still intact today and that the skilled team of craftsmen at L’Atelier du Relieur works on making last.
At only 15, Benjamin Carrat discovered he had a particular interest for creating books and for the materials involved in this process. He graduated in 2008 from the Eracom, a Lausanne-based school that trains bookbinding apprentices from all over Swiss Romandie, and acquired his workshop soon after. As he wishes to safeguard literary works and their heritage, his main objective is to preserve his pieces in optimal conditions. “We also make safekeeping boxes that are crucial to protect books from insects, dust, etc.”
Bookbinding techniques have not evolved since the 19th century, and require the same tools as before, even though every bookbinder has his production secrets. “French bookbinding is the first technique that evolved into Bradel binding when appropriate raw materials became out-of-stock. The difference between the two techniques is that French binding is made and assembled directly on the “body” (the pages), when Bradel binding happens in two steps, working on the body on the one hand and the cover on the other, which are assembled afterwards.”
“Traditionally, bookbinders are also goldplaters, who print titles in gold on the cover. Goldplating is rather simple: you assemble the words on backwards, letter by letter, and use a composter that heats them at 120°C. After that, you apply the composter on the cover with gold”.
The fibers from the materials used need particular attention and care. “They must be perfectly parallel to the back of the book so that it opens easily and doesn’t tear”.
All the raw materials used in the workshop, be it paper, cardboard, glue, canvas or parchment, are sourced locally in Switzerland. “The Made In Switzerland label is very important to us”. Sometimes, Benjamin chooses more atypical materials, but always does so with care and quality in mind.