For every pencil-obsessed, eraser enthusiast and folder fanatic out there, this one is for you – HAPPY NATIONAL STATIONERY WEEK AND A VERY HAPPY WORLD STATIONERY DAY. It’s not hard to get me to write about the desk-related stuff but my oh my, give me a dedicated week and I’ll happily focus my attention on highlighting some of my favourite stationery brands. I haven’t gone to town quite as much as Miss Nuttall on my ruler rambling set-up BUT I have happily created a series of flat lays on all things with some stationery sass – you can’t ever have too much!
For those not in the know, National Stationery Week is all about getting people writing, creating and encouraging connection. While we all know that sitting behind a laptop has become quite the norm (case and point with this little blog of mine), nothing quite beats a good sketch, writing a letter to a loved one or simply just taking the time to thoughtfully consider the curation of a hand-written shopping list. When there are so many people creating all of these beautiful objects, why put them to waste?
The brands below aren’t just creating aesthetically pleasing products for the sake of it. They’re continually encouraging new ideas, helping with organisation and improving productivity. What the world be like if we didn’t have them to create for us, and what would the world be like if they were stuck without pen and pencil? In any case, it’s time to highlight (geddit?!) these hole-punching heroes and if you’re a notebook novice, even better, these are the brands to back.
If there’s one thing I like about small businesses, it’s the fact that they generally seem to think local, think community, while also still thinking big. British design studio ola are the perfect example of this with their incredible selection of notebooks, diaries, cards and patterned papers all focusing on craft techniques and high-quality craftsmanship. With an emphasis on quality and tradition, ola products are heavily inspired by patterns found in architecture and abstract geometry (yes please) and are idyllically crafted in small quantities.
Made by local manufacturers, the prints are first drafted on paper, hand printed in ola’s London workshop and refined after testing. Founded by Katy Goutefangea in 2014, ola prefer to use age-old processes such as stitching in place of glueing and inks laid with a roller instead of digitally. Katy’s studies in Fine Art and background as a studio printmaker and bookbinder have certainly given her a passion for creating in a traditional sense with strong craft values.
I immediately fell in love with the abundance of foil blocking on perusal of the ola site and have since become attached at the hip to my layflat notebook. Crafted with sewn layflat binding, the books predictably lay flat and allow you to create across both pages with ease. Let’s not even get started on that protractor card. The gorgeous use of geometrics and thoughtful use of vegetable inks quite frankly has me well and truly sold.
Ding Ding Makes Things
With a tag-line of ‘Hand printed useful objects’, you know exactly what you’re in for when you land on the Ding Ding website. Stationery products designed for creating and all handmade with love. From plant pots to purses, the pattern-based designs are simple yet inspired and just a sneak peak at their Instagram will show you the thoughts behind the designs.
As well as being super reasonably priced – I actually first came across Ding Ding Makes Things at The Pound Shop – the products are also pretty original. The cleverly crafted mini clipboards are perfect for pictures, notes or other mementoes and I have been known to include them in my gallery wall with replaceable postcards.
Made in Nottingham, most of the products are hand screen printed, making each one completely bespoke (in my eyes anyway) and filled with the sweat, blood and tears of a working creative. What’s not to like?
The Pattern Guild
Having previously interviewed the guys behind The Pattern Guild, I couldn’t help but mention them again in this round-up – I really am a very big fan. Both their small lines pencil case and their chains coin purse accompany me around London on a daily basis and I’m constantly complimented on the graphic nature of both, just a little bit of EJP.
Based in Peckham, the design duo consisting of Amber James and Fergus McDonnell, champion the importance of the maker and have strongly stuck to their guns when it comes to finding the best materials in order to create high-quality products. Producing ethical and sustainable designs is something that comes naturally to the pair and supporting British manufacturing is high on their agenda. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve found anyone that has since spoken with such passion about said issue.
While you may, at first sight, think of these designs as repeat aesthetic, there’s more to each piece than you first might see. I implore you to seek out further information on them and perhaps give my interview a little read.
You’ve probably come across Wrap Magazine before but have you come across their incredible range of stationery? Having continually championed young illustrators through their printed publication, the brand have now extended their portfolio to include a range of illustrated products, perfectly displaying Wrap‘s signature styles.
Working with some of the world’s leading contemporary illustrators, Wrap have committed to showcasing great design and you can shop notebooks, pins, wrapping paper and greetings cards via the website, occasionally even a fancy plant pot pops up. For me the selection is always on point for sassy slogans, ‘ahead of the curve’ illustrations and pioneering patterns – just look at that graphic print gift wrap from Leta Sobierajski. I can only very publically beg for a brick-and-mortar shop to come London’s way soon – PRETTY PLEASE!
While admittedly a slightly bigger brand than some of the others included in this post, I couldn’t help but include the fairly recent collaboration between Normann Copenhagen and design agency Femmes Régionales. If I could embody EJP via stationery, it would look a little something like this.
The range, titled Daily Fiction features 18 colours, completely on-trend terrazzo prints, sporty stripes and a crazy amount of colour-blocking opportunities. If you’re ever in the city (see my guide to Copenhagen) then the Normann Copenhagen store is absolutely worth a visit for the desk shopping vibes alone.
Extra special details on the products include the slogan packaging with rubbers emblazoned with ‘Never forever’ and felt pens with the title ‘Make your marks’. It’s absolutely the little things that matter and this range aims to make your office feel that little bit more special. I’M IN.
While I could go on forever with my faves, I really don’t have all week (9-5 and all that) so I’m also going to share a few more links for your viewing pleasure below. Take a peek and let me know your own stationery superstars.