Generosity creates unique book arts studio at SFU

March 04, 2019

A generous gift to Simon Fraser University will create a legacy to keep the tradition of print alive and relevant in the digital age.

The gift to SFU Library from the estate of Dick Kouwenhoven, founder of the internationally renowned, Burnaby-based commercial printer, Hemlock Printers Ltd., will establish the Dick Kouwenhoven Book Arts Studio at Burnaby campus’ W.A.C. Bennett Library, as well as a printer-in-residence program. The studio will be a centre for education and activities designed to inspire university and community members alike with the same enthusiasm for books, book-making and print culture that Kouwenhoven was known for. 

“Dick was a visionary leader and a true entrepreneur who, throughout his career, was dedicated to the craft of print,” says Richard Kouwenhoven, son of Dick and president of Hemlock Printers Ltd.

“He was passionate about the business and most of all its roots – typesetting and letterpress, where his career began. This gift from our family to the SFU Library will help achieve one his greatest passions, sharing his love of print and the unique beauty that it conveys.” 

To recognize Hemlock’s 50th anniversary, and following Kouwenhoven’s passing in April 2017, the hands-on studio will house all the necessary equipment to print using traditional letterpress. The studio will foster multi-disciplinary collaborations with departments such as English, publishing and history, as well as The School for the Contemporary Arts. It will also be a venue for showcasing many of the library’s highly regarded special collections of antique printing press equipment and materials. 

“The SFU Library is delighted to create the Dick Kouwenhoven Book Arts Studio in memory of Dick Kouwenhoven, and to carry on his passion for the craft of printing,” says Gwen Bird, dean of libraries at SFU. “We are excited to build links to academic programs at SFU, and to explore synergies with the Media and Maker Commons that will be opening in the W.A.C. Bennett Library in summer 2019.” 

The Dick Kouwenhoven Book Arts Studio is slated to open in 2021 and will be an engaging, interactive addition for the library and larger community.