Why you should care
Because style waits for no one.
The scene unfolds in the way you’ve seen it dozens of times before — especially if you frequently find yourself among a certain type who are under the not-so-mistaken illusion that they’re “disrupting” things. Wanting to be fashionably retro, they put away their phone and pull out … a daily planner. Old school and analog, typically they’re black bound things, but occasionally there’s someone’s take on “wacky,” like, maybe, a pastel model.
So, in the same way that all computers used to look largely the same — like a space heater — some cats in the Czech Republic saw the functional but boring notebook as something in dire need of a redesign. In 2005, Kucin, formerly known as Lubomir Kuca, became the single-name founder of Deafmessanger, so named because Kucin is hard of hearing from listening to hardcore music, he’s messy and he’s sometimes angry. Deafmessanger, purposefully misspelled, is primarily a purveyor of art disguised as a utilitarian recycling venture. In short, they make art books for the art of your life or business.
Kucin decided to fold his massive collection of found objects, culled from trips all over the world, into books custom designed to meet the maker’s whims while catering to the buyers’ interests. “I found some old books that someone was throwing out in Barcelona,” Kucin says from Prague. “I couldn’t stand it and so took them with me and just started adding stuff.” Stuff from flea market runs, garbage runs or whatever gets left behind. It’s a whole different type of recycling. “We love to give new life to old or abandoned things,” he says.
Add agitprop sloganeering that says stuff like “Collect Moments, Not Things” and you’ve got a pretty cool deal.…
With a special interest in doing business differently — he makes it a point to hire people with mental health issues, for example — and still manufacturing in Prague, Kucin uses playing cards from Laos, pencils, netting and stenciled pages. Add agitprop sloganeering that says stuff like “Collect Moments, Not Things” and you’ve got a pretty cool deal until you consider a fine cherry on top of an already fine cake for the hopeless aesthetes among us: personalized and customized takes for the wholly unique diary/journal/daily planner deal.
A predesign interview fills in the blanks about your likes, dislikes and what ideally would go into the design of a book you might dig, in addition to possibly being emblazoned with your name. These are then played out in complex ways — largely dictated by what Kucin imagines you’ll like — and features snippets of phrases, pictures, stencils. Everything but kitchen sinks.
“I just gave them a few details,” said California artist Alisa Valente, “and a few weeks later it showed up.” Eighty pages, each completely different, with pen and pencil holders, folding pockets and something about which no one will ever have to say, “Which one is mine?” You want to order one? Shoot Kucin an email.
So from a hobby and a way to repurpose the world’s detritus to a full-time job that now sees their books going into around 50 shops all over the world, Deafmessanger and their sui generis gear? Arguably, the go-to stop for those who really want to not just appear to disrupt those special meeting moments, but actually disrupt them.
Film reviewer Judge Roy Bean got so accustomed to using his that he’d forget that his “was emblazoned with all kinds of not-so-safe-for-work bondage weirdness” and ended up having “different ones for different meetings.” Precisely the kind of thing you can do if you have the 399 Czech crowns ($18) for a small book or about 499 Czech crowns ($22) for a large one. Deafmessanger also sells posters, bags and, in a turn for the contrary, puzzles.
So whether you’re the kind who absolutely needs your stuff bespoke, or just want it to look that way? Deafmessanger, when they’re not doing exhibits — like they just did to support animal welfare organizations — might be able to help you. If you ask nicely.