As stationery enthusiasts, we are excited to launch our collaboration with renowned stationer Present&Correct. This photographic campaign is a celebration of paper, stationery and everyday office items.
Fresh tones, abstract patterns, graphic grids, coloured backgrounds... Present&Correct selected and photographed some of our most iconic ranges of creative papers to mix them with other stationery items selected with love.
We discussed with Neal Whittington, designer and owner of Present & Correct, about paper, stationery and the inspiration behind his popular London shop.
Could you tell us more about how Present & Correct came into being?
When I was working in branding, late 2000s, there was a real wave of online shops opening where small designers were making paper goods / or selling vintage items and I suppose I saw that and wanted to be part of it. I loved the idea of being able to make something, put it online right away and potentially sell it. At the time that was a very new thing.
I had always collected stationery so it seemed natural to combine the two. In my old job I got to travel a lot, so was always picking things up, and also my old boss always gave me stationery as gifts so I got to discover a lot of brands that were new to me. I suppose I was wanting to create a business from something I loved, and as a graphic designer there is an overlap with stationery, printed matter, packaging, etc. All these things I love to collect and display.
The name Present & Correct came from my final project at design school, it was a gift wrapping concept shop and I liked the name so kept it.
How do you find of the objects you select ? What inspires your choice of items? Is it the design of the object? Its usefulness?
It's a variety of things really. I would say the main thing is that it has to be something I like, want to own, find attractive. Obviously it needs to be functional, but sometimes I do stock things which I find interesting or curious above functionality. I have always enjoyed stationery and office supplies as objects in their own right!
I find items, old and new, by travelling and looking. And through the internet, I see a lot of work on social media. I write to people constantly asking about things they have created. At the moment I haven't been able to go to any of my spring markets, usually it is a busy time with maybe 5-6 big markets to explore and find vintage items. So I do miss that hunt, it's always really exciting.
And also over time people have started to write to me about their work or about old things they want to sell.
I strive really hard to stock items which other people don't have, as soon as something is stocked everywhere, it becomes less special to me.
As a graphic designer, how important is paper in your work?
Paper can shift a product/project dramatically and can be as important as what is printed on it. It communicates quality and care, it changes the practicality of an object too. For all graphic designers, who still work in print, it is very importnat to get the stock perfect. When a job comes back from the printers and the paper isn't right it can be a deal breaker! And all consumers are tactile so the paper is noticed, on some level, by everyone.
What makes good stationery? What would be your dream stationery?
Quality of finish and material makes a huge difference. I see work online and then get a sample and it's so disappointing. Bad paper, cheap binding, poor printing or foiling which is not accurate. Or flimsy paper where it needs to be thicker. With mass produced stationery that is getting more common. My dream stationery is basically whatever I have in the shop at any given time, though I do quite like the idea of a range of snacks based on stationery: paperclip shaped breakfast cereal, pencil shaped baguettes. That could be fun.
What are your work methods? What inspires you?
I'm inspired by a huge variety of things from modernist architecture to layers of peeling paint. I like everyday discoveries, a lovely door or a gridded window! The most obvious inspirations are those which I celebrate in the shop; postal ephemera, forms, old logos, packaging, signs, stamps, stickers and labels, textbooks and educational supplies. I really like grids and informational graphics, and using that functional aesthetic in a decorative way. It's nice to take something out of its original context and apply it to unrelated things.
What are the current trends in stationery?
I think stationery trends trickle down from interiors. When brass and marble were popular there started to be more notebooks and cards featuring those colours or patterns. As well as more brass objects too. Terazzo also became popular in interiors, then we saw more of that terazzo pattern on paper goods. I don't really shop based on trends, I try to stock items which I think stands the test of time. I don't want things to look out of date by next year.
In your store and online shop, there's a wide array of stationery from all over the globe. Have you seen significant differences between countries and cultures?
There are dfferences on two levels: aesthetic and functional. I like the aesthetic difference of languages on packaging and stationery. New characters and words are always interesting for me. Functionally I find that some countries are betting at creating unique office based objects, that focus on a very small aspect of life, or a problem, and solve it. Germany, South Korea and Japan are good for that. For example, stencils to draw calendars with or pencil sharpeners that recycle pencil stubs. Notebooks bound on a corner so that more of the paper is exposed and usable for writing. Really clever, simple ideas which might not be absolutely necessary but I love that these kinds of ideas draw stationery fanatics. Some people understand and some don't.
Vintage items tend to show a greater variety of design - in that the world was bigger back in the day and there were more brands and so more to look at. Nowadays, regardless of country, you tend to see the same pencil companies, same erasers etc. It's great to find deadstock from brands that no longer exist and which had a lovely style about them.
Is there one stationery item in particular you prefer? Your favourite product?
I am a big fan of erasers and paperclips. I really like every day objects that have a huge array of forms. There are so many varieties of eraser, the colours and shapes I love. And paperclips too come in many different structures. As for products my favourite does change weekly, depending on what has arrived! At the moment I love the office bag, which is basically an organiser for your desk that you can carry everywhere! Really fun and useful.
How do you see the future of stationery? Do you think stationery and the digital world can coexist fruitfully?
Yes I do, I think people will always like physical objects whether that be stationery or otherwise. How boring to have a lif elived through a screen or digital appliance. Humans need stuff! We derive pleasure from tangible things.
Is the choice of colour particularly important in your work?
I like playing around with colour, and have got more confident with it over the past few years. It is important because for me it suggests playfulness, and that is a big part of what we do. I always wanted Present & Correct to be fun and celebratory, not staid in any way. There are a lot of great interior stylists on Instagram that have inspired me.
Present & Correct branding is pretty, straightforward I tend to just use black and white - the reason being that it lasts better but also it is usually accompanied by colourful images or products. I didn't want it to look too crazy, and the photo or product should be the main attraction.
Is there a particular range or a paper in Arjowiggins' portfolio you prefer? And why?
The Pop'Set range is a lot of fun to play with, there are some great colours and also the density of them is lovely. You could pretty much mix any of them together and they would look nice!
Discover new visuals of our collaboration every month on Instagram
Present & Correct - 23 Arlington Way, EC1R 1UY London - United Kingdom