Friday, 9 October 2015

Whatever happened to ....Marnix Zetteler?

It is with some regularity that I am asked "whatever happened to Marnix Zetteler"? I thought I'd find out!

For those who don't remember or didn't know Marnix, he is the Dutch born paper-man who was a big noise in the 80's, 90's and beyond in the world of UK creative papers.

Originally he had a company called ISTD Fine Paper, a paper agency based in Reigate in Surrey. I first met Marnix in the mid 1980's and at that time he was agent for a coated paper mill in France called JOB, who made the paper range called Parilux.
Marnix was an unconventional paper agent as rather than selling to printers he took the paper range direct to designers, which while not totally unique, he promoted the paper using well designed collateral produced by highly rated designers of the day, such as Pocknell, Derek Birdsall, Trickett & Webb and Alan Fletcher to name a few.
Click on images to enlarge
Above shows the 'Print on Parilux' swatch. Creative direction by David Pocknell at Pocknell Studio, designer on the project was Jonathan Russell. A truly ground-breaking piece of paper promotion.

By the 1990's ISTD had a new identity (also Pocknell Studio I think?) and Marnix had added many other products to his portfolio, including from the USA Cranes Crest, Fox River and Monadnock. The image below shows a bound in insert from DesignWeek (back in the days when it was a printed publication) promoting Monadnock, which at the time was being stocked by a company called Modo Merchants (long since gone now!)
As the dawn of the millennium approached, ISTD morphed into a new company called VIP - The Very Interesting Paper Company Limited. This coincided with JOB Parilux mill being taken over by a German papermaker, Scheufelen and the Parilux papers were then handled by a mill owned agency.

Undaunted, Marnix began marketing his own products. the first of these was called Dutchman, a smooth uncoated paper range to compete with the American Text & Cover papers, such as Mohawk and our own Neptune Unique. Dutchman became quite a firm favourite with many designers.
He also created a range called Shoebox which many people still ask me about today. With characteristic flair, he took a low value board produced for the shoemaking industry and marketed it superbly.
This A6, wiro-bound production was designed by Trickett & Webb. Designer on the project was Heidi Lightfoot (who is now a partner at Together). Illustrations by Christopher Brown and all the illustrations are just reproduced in hot foil blocking - brilliant!
He produced a few promotional pieces with the late Alan Fletcher. Examples below produced to promote Monadnock, Confetti (Fox River), Shoebox and Dutchman. Printed by Gary Bird at Gavin Martin.
Click on images to enlarge
 ...and lastly he introduced a cheaper grade, uncoated offset paper called Hollander. this time he had gone further afield for his graphic design using Andre Toet in Holland and also incorporating the now familiar 'Z' for Zetteler.
By the mid 2000's the paper market was changing, dominated by some large loss making conglomerates (PaperlinX, Antalis etc) and in 2004 Marnix 'retired' from the UK paper industry. He sold VIP to Jill Mannix (part of the GF Smith family) but it fizzled out in around 2007/8.

...and Marnix and his wife Sue sailed off into the sunset in Hawaii (Maui)! While there he grew 3,000+ palm trees from seeds on a derelict piece of land on West Maui which is now a palm forest. In his words "I had a dream to leave a positive footprint on the world and I managed to do it"

Whilst in Maui, rather than sitting and watching trees grow, Marnix acquired a new skill! He learned to restore old posters from Monsieur Alain Roger of Paris, who runs the conservation department of the French National Library and is highly regarded in the paper conservation business. After Hawaii, they moved to Okatie, South Carolina where Marnix established his own studio called 'La Feuilleraie' which restores and linen backs vintage posters.

...and here he is in the studio:
Image kindly supplied by Dude Magazine
Image kindly supplied by Dude Magazine
Marnix works a few hours in the studio every day. His challenges include removing folds in the paper and repairing any rips or tears it may have. To remove folds in the paper the poster is laid on a sheet of clear plastic and water is sprayed on it. The water helps the fibres in the poster to expand, removing the folds. This also cleans the poster, removing dirt and acids from the paper.
Image kindly supplied by Dude Magazine
Some posters need to be set in a special water bath to remove any extra acidic pollution in the paper before the rest of the process can continue. Others need to have pencil or pen marks removed. The reverse of the poster is coated with special glue which won’t harm the paper or replace the chemicals he just removed. The poster is laid on a linen frame and is then rollered to ensure it is flat and sticks to the linen backing. None of this is a particularly speedy process!

He has customers sending him restoration work from all over the world including London. He says in his email to me that he has many years work ahead already booked!
Image kindly supplied by Dude Magazine
I was fortunate to find an article on Poster Conservation and Preparation written about Marnix Zetteler in a locally published magazine called DUDE which is published by Brad McDonald. I emailed Brad and he kindly put me in touch with Marnix and gave me permission to use the photographs taken at 'La Feuilleraie'. Thanks Brad - DUDE is now truly global!

You can find DUDE magazine here:
Click on this page to enlarge
and if you would like to read the magazine editorial, it is on page 40 of this PDF link.

I hope this article has been of interest, especially for those of you who may remember Marnix personally and this period in the industry.

Like many, I miss Marnix, occasionally bumping into him at events in London but to be honest, I don't miss him as a competitor! Enjoy life Marnix...

Posted by Justin Hobson 09.10.2015

1 comment:

  1. Very cool article ! I first met him at my very first Drupa, when we had recently become the Crane & Co merchants for South Africa, and he was fiving a talk on Crane's Crest. Must have been around 1995 or so !


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