December 13, 2016

The Paper Paradise | G . F Smith Show Space

This is where things all start to get a little obsessive. If you’re not a fan of that thing we make from trees, it’s probably for the best if you turn right back around and get back to your Twitter feed. It was never meant to be with us. Those of you who know me, probably still don’t know the lengths I’ll go to for a good paper stock. A good weight, unique texture, excellent moisture retention capacity – these are all traits I’m on the look out for when it comes to the pulpy stuff.

Enter G . F Smith, the matchmakers of the paper world, the paper consultants of every graphic design student’s dreams. You can only imagine my delight when Natasha popped over the information that they were opening a permanent exhibition space just off Oxford Circus.


Located on Eastcastle Street, the two-storey building acts as a multipurpose venue, home to a changing roster of exhibitions, as well as a showcase for the extensive collection of paper and bespoke projects G . F Smith have worked on. You’ve probably never seen anything like it and you probably won’t ever see anything paper-related as good. After 131 years in business, these guys really are top notch and their passion for perfection is apparent.

Developed with long-term creative partner Made Thought and designed in collaboration with architects d-raw, the architectural window display ‘Turbulence’ helps to set the scene of what’s in store inside the space, ultimately providing a snippet of the creative opportunities that await in a vibrant and structural format. A 14-metre Collection Wall is home to every shade of the iconic Colorplan range, filled with every weight, providing a stunning backdrop to the stationery-fuelled setting. Blank grey boxes also represent the future, ready to be filled with new additions to the range.

Throughout the rest of the space, new projects such as the Make Book and Make Frame initiative have taken over tables as well clever storage units which allow you to discover the history of the paper company. A personal favourite year being 1941 showcasing the reaction of staff from the factories being floored from the Blitz – staff set up shop from their homes to keep the business afloat. This is surely something for more than one visit, a new year discovery for each trip.


Consultants are on hand to guide you on your journey, whether that be for your passion for paper, your interest in the brand’s history or your dream to collaborate on a bespoke project. From previous experience, this is a company that will show interest in you whatever the situation and I’d advise any students to get down there for a spot of advice on how to use paper effectively.

“G . F Smith has always had the desire and ambition to inspire the creative world and Show Space is yet another landmark moment in our phenomenal history,” explains Joint Managing Director, John Haslam. “We wanted to create a space that challenges, inspires and wows. Students and Creative Directors alike will be welcome to visit us. We promise innovation and education with our ever-changing installations and showcases. Beautiful paper has the power to sway decision, the authority to communicate emotion, the tactility to hold your attention.”
The message is clear and honestly, you won’t find a space as welcoming. From the specially designed desks that fit paper stock to the millimetre, to the accessible projects of some of the best creatives in the world, there’s a little something for the geek in us all and I can only imagine how many times I’ll be making a pit-stop. Amazingly, that’s not even all the features…


The true showstopper though has to be the White Space on the lower level of the building. The gallery space is currently home to the previously launched ‘Tidal’ installation, an ocean themed sea of paper showing the range of Colorplan papers in a dramatic setting with calming music for good measure. Designed by Made Thought, the installation was originally showcased at the Kyoorius Designyatra festival and provides an immersive (yet slightly overwhelming) presentation of the power of paper. You’ll have to search Twitter for proof of its people surfing dismantling back in September but in the meantime be prepared for the multitude of angles that will surely flood Instagram – it’s a colour lovers dream.

The G . F Smith Show Space is open now at Eastcastle Street, London, W1 and it’s bloomin’ reem (geddit?) Join these lovely people for some paper perusing, some fancy co-working and some colour lovin’ fun.
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  1. Yessss I'm so glad we shared this visit together 🙂 Thanks for being a fellow paper geek & great pics btw x

  2. Ahh, only just saw this one bae – loved being a paper geek with you too xx

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Emma Jane Palin is a freelance art consultant, interior stylist and multi-award-winning blogger residing in Margate, UK. She has worked with various home and lifestyle brands not limited to West Elm, Apple, John Lewis, Habitat, MADE, Caran D'Ache + No.3 Gin. Emma is also a regular contributor to Hunker where she writes about design trends and interior advice.

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