June 11, 2018
Less is more: The rise of upmarket stationery
When I was convinced to trade in my blotchy biro for a Lamy 2000 ballpoint pen, I was unprepared for how dramatically the new pen would change my life.
First going on sale in 1966, the exact same model is in production today. With its beguiling, slightly curved design and grey-and-black colour scheme, the first time I used it I felt like I was holding 1966’s vision of the 21st century in my hand.
If that sounds over the top, well, stationery seems to bring this out in some people. Four years, countless notebooks, two fountain pens and one “analogue-productivity system” later, I’ve bought into the tantalising fantasy of upmarket stationery: that it offers not just technological disconnection, but a more organised and creative life.
Scott Druce, co-founder of stationery store Milligram, says that I’m far from alone in my obsession. Counter-intuitively, he thinks that high-end stationery is becoming more popular because we’re using less of it.
“People don’t need to write as much,” he says. “It’s not a chore any more, it’s a choice. That changes your mindset, and you’re actually more interested in the quality of the product, the colour of the ink, what sort of paper you write on, that sort of thing.”
Two things excite Druce the most about this analogue world: the finely tuned process that goes into creating stationery and what it’s used for.
“To create a really beautiful fountain pen you need to refine a very technical manufacturing process. And it’s something that, once it’s been created, you then use to be creative.”
As quality stationery becomes increasingly popular, thousands of Instagram accounts and blogs have popped up, reviewing products and slavishly detailing the thousands of ways popular notebooks from brands like Moleskine or Midori can be “hacked” – customised by users – to create ever-more-elaborate journal systems.
And while some pens retail for thousands of dollars, Druce points out that upping your stationery game is not just for the wealthy.
“Our cheapest fountain pen sells for $24.95. And that’s a pen you’ll have for life. It’s refillable; you’re not going to toss it away. It’s something that you can love and cherish.”
Original article can be found here.