Fabian Oefner’s ‘Bialetti Book’ is a coffee table book made of a sliced coffee maker

The Swiss artist takes us through The Bialetti Book, part of the Spatial Books series, a collection of iconic objects embedded in resin and turned into sculptural books.

by Jincy IypePublished on : Mar 17, 2021

Fabian Oefner has always followed a playfully methodical approach to art, and his works that sit at the magical junction of photography, sculpture and product design, are an exploration of time, space and reality. The Swiss artist, in his latest work, The Bialetti Book, manages to take a coffee table book and elevate it to a fascinating object – by creating it, literally, out of coffee and a sliced coffee maker!

The Bialetti Book from Oefner’s Spatial Book series | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
The Bialetti Book from Oefner’s Spatial Book series Image: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

The Bialetti Book forms part of a series called Spatial Books, which is a collection of iconic objects turned into tomes. Here, Oefner fills a Bialetti Moka espresso pot with actual coffee and embeds it in resin – another one of his signature materials. This becomes a solid block, which is then dissected into pages and bound on a white wooden spine and panel, resulting in a 32 x 26 x 15 cm, 12-page coffee table book, an edition of five. “The reason why it is a Moka pot is that I was exploring different design objects from different countries. The Moka pot is part of the Italian series, that also contains a 1960 Brionvega radio and a 1991 Ferrari Formula 1 car,” reveals Oefner.

The Bialetti Book encases a Moka pot in its resin pages | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
The Bialetti Book encases a Moka pot in its resin pages Image: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

The Spatial Book series celebrates physical transformation, like Studio Oefner’s other series, which consist of art objects with roots in product design. This series seeks to counter the reality of our current world where digital dematerialisation has advanced rapidly. Most of the information we get is obtained via screens and is largely unidimensional while gaining information through a book is a multi-sensory experience - we use our eyes to read, our hands to hold, while neurons fire up to create stories and understand information. These books simplify that but retain the element of curiosity.

“Usually, books depict an abstraction of reality, whether by describing something through words or images. This book eliminates that abstraction by reducing and showing the real object in its pages. It is an instantaneous information gain about the Moka pot through our eyes and touch, expressing an iconic design in a different mode,” mentions Oefner.

01 min watch The making of The Bialetti Book | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
The making of The Bialetti Book Video: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

The sculptural The Bialetti book has a predecessor in The Brionvega Book, which encased a 1960 Brionvega radio in its translucent, resin pages. Why resin? “Resin for me is a three-dimensional equivalent of photography. In the most literal sense, it lets me capture objects and moments and eternalise them in a specific state or form, like photography, where an image freezes a certain moment in eternity. Resin has the advantage of not only doing this in two but in three dimensions,” explains Oefner.

The Bialetti Book (R) is preceded by The Brionvega Book (L)| The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
The Bialetti Book (R) is preceded by The Brionvega Book (L) Image: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

Oefner also tells us that he and his team took quite a few attempts to get the process right. “Usually, an idea like ‘embedding an object in resin and then slicing it into pages’ sounds easy, but to do it is a whole different ball game. The cutting alone took us more than a month to figure out and execute correctly,” he says. Binding the book was another challenge – compared to the materials that make up actual books, this one uses resin, wood, and percolator and so is drastically heavier. “Conventional binding was not an option. Therefore, we had to look into different solutions and mechanics for the employed materials. Ultimately, we spent about half a year to develop this and reach the final object,” he continues.

The thick resin pages of the coffee table book | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
The thick resin pages of the coffee table book Image: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

Always on the lookout to capture the invisible and intriguing, Oefner often uses iconic objects such as shoes, cameras, and scaled-down cars, and transforms them into unexpected moments by a process of disintegration, dissection, and encasement, to challenge our idea of reality and how we perceive these products.

01 min watch The book offers a varied understanding of how iconic objects such as the Moka pot can be perceived | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
The book offers a varied understanding of how iconic objects such as the Moka pot can be perceived Video: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

When asked to elaborate on the recurring theme of ‘fragmentation’ in his works, Oefner says that he uses it to understand the reality around him clearly. “I first break or fragment objects down into their building blocks to then rearrange them into a new reality. To give you an analogy, it is like a chemist who analyses a certain substance by breaking it down to its basal chemical elements; only then can they alter the properties of that substance by rearranging the elements, and understanding them”.  

A Moka espresso pot is embedded in resin, and sliced to form the pages of the book | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
A Moka espresso pot is embedded in resin, and sliced to form the pages of the book Image: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

Currently working and living in New York, he shares with us a glimpse of his next book series that highlights a few iconic German designs, starting with the Porsche 911, where its detailed scale model is embedded in (you guessed it right) resin and presented in a meticulously composed, Fabian Oefner style.

A glimpse of the upcoming Porsche 911 book | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
A glimpse of the upcoming Porsche 911 book Image: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

“As you browse through the pages, you get a completely different look on these familiar objects. The result is an intensified sense of space, dimensions, materiality, and time,” he says.

01 min watch Fabian Oefner flips through his creation | The Bialetti Book by Fabian Oefner | STIRworld
Fabian Oefner flips through his creation Video: Courtesy of Studio Oefner, Fabian Oefner

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