Benjamin Sommerhalder founded Nieves back in 2001. A publishing house based in Zurich, Switzerland, Nieves’ output sees it publish artists’ books and zines and we’ve lost count of the times we’ve shared its releases. Its back catalogue houses the work of Geoff McFetridge, David Shrigley, Andy Rementer, Nathalie du Pasquier and hundreds more. Created out of a love for printed matter, Benjamin publishes books and zines that are free from traditional constraints and full of absolute joy.
We decided to take advantage of Benjamin’s passion for publications and ask him which books have stayed with him over the years. From the zine that inspired the beginning of Nieves to a children’s book from the 60s that Benjamin was able to republish this year, this week’s bookshelf is a personal, paper-based jaunt.
Chris Johanson: Sunpower
This was the zine that inspired me to start the Nieves zines.
Nakako Hayashi: Baby Generation
Baby Generation is a small book by Nakako Hayashi, photographed by Takashi Homma, designed by Mike Mills and published by Little More in 1996. It features the homes and art of Sofia Coppola, Ione Skye, Tamra Davis, Karen Kilimnik and Kim Gordon.
I bought this book as a teenager in the late 90s in Zurich’s seminal bookshop, Scalo. I was mesmerised and still am whenever I open it. For me, this book epitomises this particular point in time. Everything fits, from the producer to the editor, the photographer to the designer, the contributors to the publisher. I realise now by looking at it again how much it influenced me and how it shaped the way I look at design and art. It brings together the people I got to know individually and got to work together over the following years. It was one of the starting points when establishing my own publishing house.
Takashi Homma: Tokyo Suburbia, Korinsha Press
This is one of my all time favourites.
Peter Wezel: Nepomuk, Diogenes, 1964/Nieves, 2017
Peter Wezel’s plain and simple tale starts when a pink bird flies by a house, spotting a bright orange fish inside a fishbowl. It is cross-species love at first sight when he leaves and returns with the gift of a worm for this apparently lonely and hungry aquatic creature. Wezel’s bright crayon colours and modest sketches are rendered with a deliberate childlike naivete. Nepomuk is a good book for children and adults in need of a story about kindness, sharing, and friendship.
Stefan Marx: 85 Zeichnungen, Rollo Press
This is my favourite cover.
Decapitron is a series of hectographic printed books, each one of those books is made by a different artist. It’s one of my favourite series.
Harmony Korine: The Bad Son
The Bad Son is a 1998 photo book by Harmony Korine, made up of pictures of Macaulay Culkin and his then-wife Rachel Miner. The pictures arose from the filming of the music video for Sonic Youth’s Sunday, which featured both Culkin and Miner. The pictures were exhibited at Korine’s solo exhibition at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo, in 1998.
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.