ZonaFranca Carton Publishing House

“ZonaFranca, Casa Editrice di Cartone publishes texts and images on recycled paper and carton".

"The covers are hand painted and composed, like they taught us in Guardia Vieja in Buenos Aires. Pare, mire escuche, “Stop, look and listen” is the motto that expresses the character of this realm of culture. Time is the most precious thing we have and thoughts and words must simply spread, unite and dress in the most natural and colored outfit there is.”  


Perini Journal

ZonaFranca is a Carton Publishing House born about three years ago following a trip to Argentina discovering the culture of this large South American country. The inspiration for the project comes from this country characterized by great beauty and strong contradictions where, at the time of the disastrous state collapse, some publishers were able to raise themselves up with the imagination that is part of their nature, buying from street kids called “cartoneros” the material with which to bind the texts of authors such as Mautner, Gilberto Gil, Ricardo Piglia, Cucurto and Lamborghini, just to name a few.


FRANCA SEVERINI, ART JOURNALIST AND CREATOR OF ZONAFRANCA, tells the Perini Journal how this original area of culture was born. “I had scheduled several meetings with publishing houses from Buenos Aires who had settled in Italy to report on Argentinean culture following the country’s economic disaster. Among them, I met the company that publishes the most interesting names in all of South America using recovered materials – recycled paper and carton – and I decided to bring this project to Italy.” It was February 2006 at the headquarters of the “Eloisa Cartonera” publishing house in Buenos Aires: the carton book covers still smell of fresh tempera, the title and the author have just been hand painted on them, and they are arranged by Eugenia on the shelf located in the covered garden in the back. Eugenia explains that the cartoneros brought the carton a few days ago. They were cut to size to make the covers by Eloisa’s youngsters, who have also placed the texts inside them.


THE CARTONEROS ARE GROUPS OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO COLLECT UNUSED CARTON and sell it to Eloisa to earn a living. Eloisa pays them three times more than the normal price for this carton, creating a very successful collaboration both from an editorial as well as a human point of view. I have not yet decided which books to bring to Italy. It’s like I had to bring with me all of Latin America! The books of the cartoneros possess the elegance of simplicity, the consistence of culture and the contagious cheer of color. I have the feeling that that shelf contains the true Argentinean atmosphere, its fatalism and joie de vivre. I choose five of them randomly, as fast as I can. In that precise moment, I felt like I had to choose something in a divided world that is at the same time indissoluble. These books are like the colors, the music, the people and the contrasts of South America: full bodied, noisy, dense, approximate, disorderly, cultured, uproarious, vivacious, turbulent, quiet, tolerant, passionate, calm, extrovert, sensational, reflexive. Put together randomly but inseparably. This is the souvenir I brought with me, safely guarded in the books of the cartoneros, painted in motley colors and growing along with other words in the publications of ZonaFranca.


LUCCA, CAPITAL OF PAPER, RESERVED A WARM WELCOME FOR THIS PARTICULAR PUBLISHING HOUSE and in a short time, many authors already well known to the public, became part of the various collections, attracted by rather particular characteristics. Firstly, the literary genre most appropriate for these publications is the short story, a type of writing that does not find great warmth in the dynamic currents of the market, but one which authors prefer. Secondly, ZonaFranca offers ample graphic and stylistic freedom concerning the book’s layout, another feature that many authors “in the zone” immediately appreciated.


THE PUBLISHING HOUSE IS DIVIDED INTO “ZONES” according to the topic treated and is about to publish texts on the critique of thought, art, memories of journeys, poems and texts on gastronomic excellencies of great interest, not only locally. Furthermore, some re-prints of texts by authors who have made the history of journalism are about to become other peak publications of their own, thanks also to the consultancy of renowned literary critics that have found in ZonaFranca a place where to research the essence of words, because the graphic design already transmits the essence of an essential aesthetics. The literary production of the texts goes hand in hand with “accessories for culture” like note pads, colored pencils and drawing pencils, handbags and hats, all sharing the same line of thought: objects made of paper, fabric and other natural materials, unique, made-in-Italy pieces to be handled with care. On these foundations, the collaboration with Perini Journal was born to make handbags featuring images from the Journal. ZonaFranca used the pages of this world-renowned publication as an aesthetic and graphic image, diffusing an immediate message of elegant simplicity, a modern “objet trouvé” that is already an icon of style.


ZONAFRANCA MEANS FREE ZONE, an area that everyone can reach through its Internet site, to send the editorial headquarters texts and drawings for possible publication. “Stop, look and listen”, the motto of ZonaFranca, perfectly expresses the spirit of the project and of its publications. It is a phrase found on an abandoned railroad crossing on the border between Chile and Argentina, the place where the idea was born. ZF was a guest at the Festival della Creatività of Florence as representative of creative publishing, in the 2007 and 2008 editions of the event. It was invited to the Festival del Libro Italiano (Italian Book Festival) in Paris at the exhibition center located in the Marais district for the February 2008 edition and for the edition that has just ended. Also, with friends Gary Frank, designer of Superman and Hulk and Patrick Lumb, Art Director of films such as “Behind Enemy Lines”, “Valkyrie” and “Batman Begins”, ZF was a guest at LuccaComicsandGames 2008 as a publishing house called to deliver the awards to the winners of some of the many contests taking place during the event. The ZonaFranca team is comprised of Franca Severini, publishing director, Roberto Giomi and Alessandro Pieri of the Studio Memphremagog & Associati for art direction, Andrea Cortopassi, cover designer, and Massimo Baldocchi for photo reportages and the choice of images and ideas, while Stefania Fulceri collaborates in the creation of accessories. ZonaFranca is part of the Comieco (National Consortium for the Recovery and Recycling of Cellulose-Based Packaging) projects made with recycled materials and enjoys the extraordinary support of ICP, Industrie Cartarie Pieretti, for the supply of material. This collaboration unites one of the most important industrial entities of the international paper field with a cultural project that exalts the importance of thought and of written words. •

Login or Register to publish a comment