Stepping into the world of Sonnenzimmer for the first time can be slightly unmooring. Gazing upon their work, one is awash with feelings at once familiar and foreign, as though having wandered into a memory where all speech is in an unknown tongue. Explore their print and poster work further—nuanced hues, abstract forms, clearly defined negative space, scrupulous typography—and you begin to piece together the many elements that make Sonnenzimmer one of the most compelling print shops in America.
Founded by Nicholas Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi, the Chicago-based Sonnenzimmer began in 2006 when the couple merged their painting studios and, in the
process, acquired some industrial screen printing equipment for a song. Two years into taking the occasional poster commission, the pair decided to transform Sonnenzimmer into a full-blown commercial graphic artist studio.
Since then, Butcher and Nakanishi have set themselves apart in the gig poster scene, foregoing the figurative approach common to many posters in favor of a style that melds abstraction, modernism, and minimalism. Today, they continue to push the formal boundaries of print making with a vocabulary that synthesizes many influences, and yet remains distinctly Sonnenzimmer.