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The joy of stylish stationery, by the seven British brands doing it best

It’s time to reacquaint yourself with the enduring pleasure of beautiful desk supplies

stylish stationery

The founders and figureheads of our favourite British brands guide us through the stationery renaissance and explain why well-designed supplies deserve a place on every desk. Plus, for those looking for the instant endorphin boost that new stationery can provide, we have compiled an edit of the eight best notebooks to buy now…

Luc Goidadin Creative Director of Smythson
Alun Callender


Creative director Luc Goidadin reflects on the enduring appeal of beautiful bespoke stationery

Frank Smythson, a silversmith, founded the house in 1887, and by the 1890s he was producing stationery for Queen Victoria.

Personalised stationery is a thing of beauty in itself. It’s not about battling digital communication, but rediscovering the intention, the ceremonial and the ultimate luxury bespoke stationery represents.

Customers share a strong attachment to the brand. The personal nature of documenting your life and ideas on those blue pages, the intimacy and meaning of a hand-written note… these things create a unique bond.

The craftspeople in our factories are unique. Some of the machines that produce the engraving and embossing which is so characteristic of the Smythson touch that are over 100 years old – their expertise will always be central to what we do. smythson.com

Smythson notebooks

Katy Goutefangea Ola founder
Katy Goutefangea


Frustrated by notebooks on the market, Katy Goutefangea, a printmaker, launched her own brand

Our signature product is the Layflat notebook. Months of research and multiple prototypes were behind its 2014 launch – we wanted a beautifully crafted tool with a simple aesthetic but a beauty and tactility that lent itself to contemplation.

The beauty of a notepad is that it can be used to sketch and write simultaneously, rotated, torn, dropped and spilt on. It needs no powering up to record a passing thought and can be carried anywhere. You can’t say that for a digital device.

We’ve been collaborating with establishments at the forefront of contemporary art and design. We’ve produced exclusive collections for the Royal Opera House, Barbican, Tate and have worked with the Eames Office.

Producing high quality yet affordable items with as little environmental impact as possible is our greatest challenge, which involves a great deal of research and investment. olastudio.co.uk

Ola Studio notebooks
Ola Studio

Taymoor Atighetchi Papier founder
Taymoor Atighetchi


Ex-antiques dealer Taymoor Atighetchi on the global expansion of this stationery superstar

Art and design have always been a big part of my life. I come from six generations of antiques dealers – my surname means ‘art dealer’ – and started off selling antiques on the Portobello Road.

Putting pen to paper will always be a more thoughtful way of communicating. It’s great to see younger generations returning to analogue.

We have print operations across three continents and use state-of-the-art digital printing on the finest quality Mohawk paper, which is made with non-polluting, wind-generated energy. We also use centuries-old foil stamping techniques and found ourselves recommissioning two tonne foiling machines that were consigned to scrap.

We’ve come a long way since our wonky Camden townhouse, when there was just three of us working in the business. Launching in New York felt like a real ‘made it’ moment, but we’re always striving for more – I hope that we have a few more of those moments to look forward to in the future. papier.com

Papier colourful marbled notebooks

Eleanor Tattersfield founder of Marby & Elm
Eleanor Tattersfield / Marby & Elm

Marby & Elm

Founder Eleanor Tattersfield discusses the art and joy of working with letterpress

The business was born from a personal quest for letterpress stationery. I found an old printer online and began designing stationery in my shed. The demand increased month on month with requests from friends, then friends of friends...

People love letterpress for its idiosyncratic nature. The indentation of the type in the paper and the one-off nature of each print make it so markedly different from digital print.

Our while-you-wait service is very popular. We developed the idea from a Liberty pop-up, and it’s unique; we have an unusual letterpress printer that offers us a faster type-setting technique, which can be employed for a single print, rather than a run of 100.

We favour GF Smith and Fabriano papers for our products. Both are sustainably sourced and soft enough to take the impression. We also print on vintage papers: maps, music sheets and old letters. marbyandelm.com

Marby & Elm Clerkenwell Blue Ink
Marby & Elm

Nicki Chen Before Breakfast founder
Before Breakfast

Before Breakfast

Nicki Shen talks about her studio, which specialises in eco-friendly Japanese Riso soy ink

Our name is a homage to Lewis Carroll’s quote in Through the Looking-Glass: ‘Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast‘. It’s a loose interpretation, but these words remind us to create stationery that makes everyday tasks a little easier.

Sustainability means everything to us. We create by hand using sustainable methods of printing and traditional hot-foil blocking.

We recently visited Japan in collaboration with Tokyo lifestyle store Think of Things, recreating the ’Sketch Book’ by Kokuyo 60 years after its original release. We printed it with Risograph ink and used traditional bookbinding techniques for the hardcovers. We also created a limited edition ‘Think of Things To Do’ notepad to commemorate the collaboration. beforebreakfast.london

Before Breakfast sketchbook
Before Breakfast

Amy Cooper-Wright Mark + Fold founder
Amy Cooper-Wright / Mark + Fold

Mark + Fold

Designer Amy Cooper-Wright describes how she creates products with supply chain transparency

I’ve been obsessed with stationery since I was a child – my parents are architects so there was always fun paper and pens in the house.

Having worked as a graphic designer for 10 years, I wanted to develop a notebook that was beautifully made, which would lay flat (thanks to proper binding) and use good-quality papers. I knew the aesthetic had to be gender-neutral and understated, but with a quality you can feel.

Our materials are sourced mostly in Britain and occasionally from Japan and Germany. We pass on the story of how each item is made, working closely with and regularly visiting each factory.

We produce small batches and as each sells out, create new products and expand the range. Our aim is that nothing goes to waste and we price products fairly, according to the cost price. markandfold.com

Mark + Fold weekly planners
Amy Sarah Wright

Alex Cain Mount Street Printers
Alex Cain

Mount Street Printers

This family business offers endless possibilities in print. Alex Cain, director and son of the founders, explains

The brand was born in 1981, the year my parents, Peter and Fridette, discovered the shop on Mount Street. The Queen’s stationers Henningham & Hollis had previously occupied the premises, so the building has been a printers since it was built.

We combine traditional methods with the latest print technology. We’ve invested in a new digital printer, but at the same time we’re slowly restoring vintage die stamping presses.

Being a Royal Warrant Holder invokes a sense of responsibility. We feel very fortunate to have been recognised by the Royal Family and to be part of a select group of suppliers protecting the craft for future generations.

Our most interesting order was a wedding invitation for a very high-profile client. I can’t share any specific details, but we were truly honoured to play a small part in a historic event. mountstreetprinters.com

Mount Street Printers Shopfront
Mount Street Printers


The UK is full of exciting, independent brands making notebooks and organisers that will transform your desk. Here’s a few of our favourite items to buy now…

Box of 6 'Thank You' Cards
Desktop Notepad - Pale Salmon
10 Cards & Envelopes - Letter Writing Set Turquoise/Green
10 Postcards with Patterned Border in Twilight
Hardcover Recycled Leather Notebook
Patterned Envelopes Ditchling Hound
Layflat Swiss Bound Notebook - Graphs

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