I don’t know about you, but I find it almost impossible to leave a nice stationery or lifestyle store without a handful of pretty paper goods; notebooks, cards, planners, diaries, you name it, they are hard to resist. Stationery, much like most things in life, can be fun, interesting and beautiful and there is something deeply therapeutic about putting pen to paper and switching off from the screens, even if it is just for a little bit. And if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it in style. Turn your desk from dull to delightful with these 10 fabulous stationery brands we can’t get enough of…
Notem is a Copenhagen-based brand of considered stationery. Named after the latin word notem, its simplest translation to English is “to note”, however, there is much more nuance hidden in the term that can more closely be expressed as wanting to write without knowing what you will write about. Notem is heavily influenced by the local Scandinavian style favouring minimalism and functional approach to design. That is why the company’s goal is to enrich our lives and add new value to our simple daily habits, whether that’s drawing or writing something down.
Delight in the brand’s carefully designed and organised planners and notebooks with a flat-lay binding, with a perfectly flat surface upon opening, covered in a waterproof paperback of striped and grid patterns or solid colours from lemony yellow to moss green.
Note and Shine
Founded by graphic designer Kelsey Layne in 2018, Note and Shine focuses on achieving productivity while making self-care top priority. The London-based brand’s unconventional journals and undated planners, with titles like The Manifestation Journal or Daily Goals and Wellness Planner, include spaces for positive and motivating affirmations or quotes, as well as check lists of self-care activities such as meditation or exercise.
Each notebook can be chosen as a hardback or a paperback covered in beautiful and calming illustrations of flowers, moons and stars or a hugging love heart, each matching the given theme of the diary and printed with eco-friendly vegetable-based inks.
Speaking of eco friendliness, one must mention Kinshipped. Born in 2018 out of a gap in the market for sustainably-minded yet well-designed stationery, founder Kayleigh McCardle wanted to to create products that fitted in with the modern environmental consciousness and that she and her customers would proudly display in their interiors.
Hence, the range of UK-made notebooks, greeting cards and wrapping papers is all printed with vegetable inks on FSC-certified paper and there isn’t a piece of plastic in sight. In turn, the prints are graphic and interesting yet chic, utilising neutral muted tones, whether it’s a hand-drawn grid design or a leopard print, which has earned the Kent-based brand design-led stockists such as Selfridges and Alice in Scandiland.
Harris & Jones
Harris & Jones was founded in 2008 by husband and wife team Steve and Vanessa Harris, formerly Jones, in rural Bedfordshire. The duo, now along with a small team, hand-makes every piece of its stationery and desk accessories, from notebooks to keepsake boxes, filers and paper trays, covered in vibrant paper prints or brightly-coloured fabric.
For Harris & Jones, it’s all about customisation which for us as customers is the most fun part about it because you can get creative and personalise your stationery to fit your taste and your needs. When it comes to the brand’s decorative journals, you are offered a wide range of prints to choose from for your cover, from marbled patterns by marbling aficionado Jemma Lewis to florals and graphic designs by Neisha Crosland. Alternatively, you can send Steve and Vanessa your own paper. Then select the colour of the hinge and inscribe it with a name, initials, title or a message if you so wish.
Launched in 2015 by Taymoor Atighetchi, Papier is probably most famous for its collaborations with other creatives, artists and brands, from Hoste by Laura Jackson to chic pyjama label Desmond & Dempsey, each of which imprint their own identity onto the final product. That is what Papier hopes its customers do as well – make every notebook, diary, place card or menu their own, because, yes, Papier offers all of that and more. So as well as being able to choose from a wide range of designs and prints, every product’s text is customisable and therefore, every product is made specially for you to order. And what’s even better is that Papier is plastic-free and uses only FSC-certified paper. The brand’s latest core range, titled the Library collection, is inspired by decorative vintage book covers, hence expect a lot of florals, ornamental patterns and bold titles that resemble real books.
Katie Leamon is a family business led by Katie herself since its founding in 2010, who to this day designs every single product herself. Inspired by the tradition of hand-written correspondence and the pleasure it can bring, motivated by the desire to make everyday tasks more enjoyable, the Essex-based brand produces lay-flat notebooks and planners, that are recognisable for their pastel colours and graphic prints focusing on shapes, as well as greeting cards such as the original cloth-covered postcards adorned with large gold writing.
More recently, Katie Leamon has branched out and now includes a range of leather accessories and small concrete homewares in its offering. In addition, this season, the designer has stepped out of her comfort zone a little and came out with cards and notebooks covered in classic English florals with its Heirloom collection, created in collaboration with fashion brand Lily and Lionel.
If you live in London, you may have come across Choosing Keeping’s grandiose brick-and-mortar store on Covent Garden’s Tower Street where the brand moved in 2018 after five years residing on east London’s Columbia Road. The specialist shop is filled with everything a stationery fanatic’s heart like ours might desire. Aside from selling a wonderful range of both the classics and the curiosities of the stationery world, a few times a year the Choosing Keeping store reimagines itself into a gallery space, hosting introspective exhibitions about artisanal stationery.
But if you do not reside in the capital, do not despair, because the online store has got you covered. As well as stocking brands like Antoinette Poisson or Rivoli, Choosing Keeping makes its own stationery from hardback Composition Ledger notebooks decorated by a plethora of original prints and patterns, retro watercolour sets to decorative scalloped writing papers with matching envelopes.
If you’re one for a vibrant punch of colour, then The Completist’s stationery is for you. Founded in 2018 by husband and wife duo Jana and Marko Starcevic, the line is inspired by art and culture, which is evident in the brand’s artistic prints in bold colours, evocative of abstract art paintings. Designed by Jana from the team’s equally colourful studio in London’s Peckham, the range spans lay-flat notebooks and undated planners, greeting cards, wrapping paper and even the likes of scissors and decorative washi tape, encouraging its customers to get just as creative.
Champions of good design, Jana and Marko make sure that their products don’t cost the planet. That’s why The Completist uses only FSC-certified paper and packaging made from biodegradable film or recycled paper.
The brainchild of print-maker Katy Goutefangea, Ola was inspired by Katy’s own needs for a particular type of notebook as she would fill several while designing her prints. One that would be both practical and enjoyable to look at, made with thick high-quality paper and without prescribing what type of content she should fill it with. So in 2014, Katy’s perfect notebook was finally born – Ola’s signature lay-flat notebook.
Covered in graphic prints, which are Katy’s specialty as a print-maker, using vegetable-based inks, the paperback notebook comes in a choice of sizes between traditional A5 and a pocket-sized A6 and is sewn with a lay-flat binding, ensuring it stays flat while open. This technique is quite popular now with specialist stationery brands but back in 2014, it was rather hard to come by. The white soft pages are made from FSC-certified wood.
Ola’s latest limited collection is one celebrating Bauhaus, an art and design movement of the 1920s and 30s, championing an abstract minimal aesthetic. True to the Bauhaus style, the notebooks, cards and wrapping papers are practical, well-crafted and covered in prints focusing on abstract shapes in bright yellows and blues.
Mark+Fold is one for the ultimate minimalist. Created in 2015 by designer Amy Cooper-Wright, Mark+Fold is a proudly sustainable and a completely transparent brand, sharing every detail of its production with its customer base and hoping to encourage other brands to do the same.
The understated aesthetic of the London-based brand is inspired by Amy’s extensive creative work, including designing coffee table books for art galleries, and the philosophy of Japanese graphic designer Kenya Hara about designing ’empty vessels into which people project their ambitions and dreams’. The founder and life-long stationery lover wanted to apply the same principles and considered techniques to notebook making.
The brand’s flat-lay notebooks are made in small batches, each numbered, with paperback covers made with FSC-certified paper in a variety of colours, from neutral sand to neon yellow. The inside paper is thicker than regular notebooks, perfectly smooth and opaque which makes it perfect for writing with a fountain pen. The newest addition to Mark+Fold’s range are reusable leather cover for the company’s notebooks and diaries, made with vegetable-tanned doe bridle leather.