We’ve noticed here at Boxcitement that whenever we mention that we’ve included stationery in one of our monthly boxes, or we post an image of our stationery on one of our social media sites, we experience a surge in popularity! So we decided to delve a little deeper into what it is about stationery that makes people tick – and just why it is so popular right now.
When we say stationery we are of course describing much more than the traditional headed notepaper and fountain pens that the word conjured up a generation ago. Today, we can take it to mean kawaii erasers, washi tape and novelty pencil toppers as well as the ultra-luxurious hand stitched, bound notebooks created by prestigious companies such as Leuchtturm and Moleskine.
Stationery, of course, represents the exact opposite of what we experience in our digital worlds. It’s tactile, you can smell the pages of a new notebook in a way you’d never appreciate with a Kindle Fire! It’s traditional – who doesn’t prefer a hand-written embossed notecard to a quick email full of spelling mistakes? And it can be kept and displayed, which helps us to define ourselves both at home and at work, bringing together themes and colours and allowing us to demonstrate our taste in simple and easily changed ways.
What stationery also represents is beginnings – whether it’s a new diary for a new year, an empty notebook for a new project or that smooth eraser that has never yet been used. A journal or a planner can mean so much more than simple pages; it can define a life, organise a family and be the holder of secrets. And using the perfect new pen, which writes smoothly and is always at hand, is a pleasure a touch screen tablet will never give. Stationery promises to help you, to inspire you and to make you more creative, more focussed and more organised than ever before – no wonder we love it so much!
Of course creativity is at the heart of why so many people love stationery – not only their own ideas brought to life in a new sketchbook, but also the many styles and genres that are available today from shops such as Paperchase and Muji. The variety available is mind boggling – from the crazy kitsch (who saw our cacti erasers, part of our Wild West theme?) to the sublimely lovely – a current trend for rose gold seems to be growing in popularity. It makes it easy for us to express our personality in a simple and inexpensive way – and to change our taste on a whim, if we want to. A single roll of washi tape can transform objects in an instant – try doing that with a feature wall!
And it seems our love affair with stationery continues to rise and rise. John Lewis reported a 177% rise in its sales of premium stationery lines in one year. Liberty opened a new stationery hall which has already had to expand to meet demand. Smythson reported a 400% increase in profits from 2010 to 2011. The ever funky Paperchase opened 14 new shops on the high street in one year, during a global recession no less – which speaks volumes for what we like to spend our money on when we don’t have too much of it.
What is interesting to note is the resurgence in shops such as Paperchase of products such as placecards, calling cards and ultra traditional notecards, as if alongside our love of eclectic and irreverent designs we have learnt to appreciate the finer aspects of stationery that our grandparents took for granted. A complicated system of protocols surrounded the giving of cards in older times – from folding down a corner to presenting it in a certain way everything ‘meant’ something and had to be interpreted correctly. Our endearing love of communication has continued into modern times; the forerunner of social media emoticons began with a vellum calling card!
To sum it up in a simple way, stationery makes us feel better. Whether brightening up a dull office desk, or landing on the doormat with the promise of a letter from an old friend, it exists to help us get through the grind and experience the more colourful things in life. From that first school exercise book to thoughtful bereavement cards and notes, it follows us through the many stages of our lives. And all we need to do to tap into that wonderful feeling is to open up a new notebook, take the lid off a treasured pen, and begin.
What do you think about our ongoing love affair with stationery? We’d love to hear about and see your favourites – and rest assured we’ll be continuing to create exclusive stationery for Boxcitement – after all, it makes us really popular!