Designers are typically inspired people, and those who have a natural talent can often spot a creative use for even the most familiar object—like the wheel, for example. Such is the case for Postalco's imaginative co-founder Mike Abelson, who became obsessed with wheels after seeing the mark that one left on a piece of paper trapped in the sliding glass door of his Tokyo home. This fascination with an object's unintended purpose led Abelson to create a wheel printer that could add a distinct set of stripes to his finely crafted Postalco notebooks. "If you really step back and think about what printing is, and think about it as mark-making, then in a way this is printing too," he explained to us at NYC boutique Creatures of Comfort, where he has set up the printer for a one-week residency.
Made entirely from scratch out of household products, the Postalco Wheel Printer is a bit of a Rube Goldberg machine, but Abelson delights in its ability to produce rough, imperfect stripes—an aesthetic that the Japanese have a difficult time allowing. A trained product designer (he helped launch Jack Spade), Abelson spent six months building the printer, experimenting with different wheels and methods.
With Postalco products safely in the hands of quality craftsman, for Abelson the printer is a way to get in on the production side of things, as well as to add to the notebooks' notoriously handsome but monotone colorways. "Our products are really plain and simple, and are really just sort of geometric. I thought it would be interesting to have something that took place on the surfaces," he says.
With tiny soy sauce bottles holding the ink, the Postalco Printer operates off of a wooden wheel that Abelson cranks on the side as a notebook passes through, and the carefully placed wheels leave their distinct marks. Those in NYC can pick up one of the one-off notebooks at Creatures of Comfort, which feature special blue and yellow colorways.
The Postalco Wheel Printer will be on display at Creatures of Comfort starting today through 10 July 2012, alongside a new film by Koki Tanaka, which shows the mixed-media artist using various Postalco products in humorous, unconventional scenarios.
See more images of the Wheel Printer in the slideshow below.