We are an artisan book bindery established in 2012, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and run by Ben Elbel (bookbinder) and Kieke Schaaper (multi-disciplined).
(French nationality, 1983) fell in love with bookbinding while studying art in Strasbourg, France. From the beginning his interest has been towards the experimental side of the craft; however, determined to learn the 'proper' ways he embarked on a journey that took him to Switzerland (Ascona- Centro del bel libro- the inspiration for our company name), Germany (Göttingen- die Buchmanufaktur) and England (London- Shepherds Bookbinders, Book Works). After these years of working in the trade he started his own bindery.
Benjamin is passionate about the traditional craft of bookbinding but is also an innovator by nature. He is always looking for alternative ways to construct books and original ways to design them. He invents bookbinding techniques which we share via our self-published collection of tutorials 'bookbinding out of the box'. In 2013 he was the first to successfully conduct a remote bookbinding workshop, with students all around the world following his instructions via video conference.
Benjamin's work has been awarded on several occasions. In 2009 he was a distinguished winner of the Designer Bookbinders International Competition and more recently third price in the international competition 'Open Set'. He has taught workshops in Europe and the USA and is regularly invited to give lectures.
(Dutch nationality, 1985) grew up in a bookbinders environment with her mum having her own bindery. Kieke loves handmade design, paper, textile, textures, patterns, colours, has a great eye for details and is multi-disciplined. She studied Design & Styling at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and graduated Cum Laude in 2006. After her study she worked for several creative brands and magazines.
Kieke pretty much does everything at Elbel Libro that is not hands-on bookbinding. Her job is to make sure that it is a pleasure working with us.