When Sidonie Warren and Kyle Clar moved their design studio: ‘Studio B’, from Bridport to a retail unit in Bristol in 2013 it soon occurred to them that they should take advantage of having a shop front, resulting in turning half the studio into a shop selling design-led goods.
By 2014, the studio team had outgrown the space and the shop was getting busier so they moved to a four story Georgian building in Clifton Village – it is here that Papersmiths was born. Today Papersmiths provides us with seasonally-changing trend led products with an array of classic and essential tools to get creative with as well as unique design pieces to inspire us.
Most excitingly (for us) Papersmiths opened up in a London location: Shoreditch, Box Park. Getting the opportunity to show their ‘playful personality’ by transforming one of the tiny 300sq feet shipping containers into an elegant dusky pink stationary heaven. We chat to founder Sidonie on opening the London store, Studio B, the exciting projects Papersmiths have been involved with and much, much more…
Qbic x Papersmiths:
How did Papersmiths begin?
Papersmiths began when we had a really quiet patch in client work and we decided to turn half of our design studio into a shop selling the things we used in our own design practice. This included stationery, but also the items that inspired us like design books and magazines.
Tell us about Studio B…
This is how Kyle Clarke and I started working together. We collaborated on small design projects for local businesses from an old rope making factory in Bridport. We gradually built up a few steady clients, took the leap and moved our tiny studio to Bristol and now we’re six and a half years old! How would you describe the ethos of Papersmiths?
We pick out tools that bring some joy to your everyday and goods that inspire some wonder and curiosity. We aim to bring together items that inspire. We don’t do bland.
How would you describe Papersmiths design aesthetic and overall vibe?
It varies depending on the location but I’d like to think it’s honest and shows our personality. We created a peaceful haven with our Bristol store which features lots of beautiful timber. It hasn’t dated and the neutral colour palette lets the products sing. For our first London location in Shoreditch we’ve shown more of our playful personality and went for a dusky pink tile and a speckled resin that reflects the qualities of handmade paper. We make spaces where people feel they can browse and take everything in. Our most recent location is a kaleidoscopic stationery kiosk in Westfield, White City and it has all the pens and pencils you can imagine. It’s a pit stop for essentials and features some of our much loved classics too.
Tell us more about the design of the Papersmiths London based store…
I’ve spoken a little about this above but I’d also add that we faced the challenge of opening up shop in a tiny 300sq feet shipping container! We’re spoiled in Bristol with 700sq feet to play with. We wanted to be able to showcase the products in our minimal, clean, easy-on-the-eye style but had so little space to play with. We kept the centre clear and fitted shelving down either side which is recessed with speckled resin and clad with dusky pink handmade encaustic tiles. 6600 of them were ordered! We actually had a few left over and sold them to a customer who fell in love with the pink. We tend to create commercial interiors at Studio B so this made us very happy to have had a little part to play in someone’s home environment.
Are there any exciting projects that Papersmith have been involved in?
We were part of the London Illustration Fair in December which was super exciting! We joined the LIF crew in 2015 and are thrilled to be back. Our first shop featured a lot of illustration and we used to put on exhibitions so it’s great to be back amongst our pals and one of our favourite forms of creative expression. I personally can’t wait to check out everyone else’s stands.
We had a pop up shop at London Design Festival this Autumn and collaged a wall in torn pieces of beautiful GF Smith, Fedrigoni and Arjowiggins papers which was super fun. We like getting our hands involved! We also recently designed a notebook for Richard Branson to mark the release of his new book Finding My Virginity. It’s a bright red monolith with an emboss that juts out through a shiny silver foil packet. Dream client, and an amazing company to collaborate with. They were a joy and really supportive, picking out our tiny company to work with.
What does a typical day at Papersmiths look like?
It involves lots of cleaning, tidying and chatting with customers. We have high standards and like to keep the stores immaculate. When I say immaculate, I literally mean every single pen spaced evenly!
We’re all creators of some kind ourselves and love to find out about what our customers are working on. They seem pretty interested in our crew too which is nice. What do you look to for inspiration?
Most recently, I went to California and nature was kind. A bit of reflective solo time works wonders for kick-starting creativity. I came back with so many ideas and have just opened a pop up shop called Two Palms above Papersmiths in Bristol. Finally I’ve got a place to share all the ceramics, textiles, beauty products that I’ve come across on my stationery sourcing travels over the past few years.
I also read and meditate and crucially I listen to customers and our team to find out what they want.
Where are your favourite shopping/food/hang out spots in London and how does the city inspire you?
A top day would involve going to Ester’s in Stoke Newington for breakfast, Clissold Park for a picnic or sunset, chilling at the ladies pond at Hampstead Heath and drinks at The Prince. The people in London inspire me massively from friends to acquaintances who I meet in a business capacity. It’s great for connections. I like to shop at Liberty, the small shops in Notting Hill and of course our Shoreditch ‘hood is fab. Modern Society, Aime and Labour and Wait are some of my favourites. We read that you like to travel in search of new designs, is there any place in particular that stands out to you design wise?
New York during design week is fantastic. Sight Unseen and ICFF are top spots. I love the National Stationery Show too. It’s great to catch up with all our US suppliers in person. Then there’s a never ending supply of F&B places which provide great inspiration for commercial design work at Studio B. Spending a day in Williamsburg never fails to disappoint either, even if I feel a little sick with envy at some of the stores!
Do you have a personal favourite designer or Papersmiths product?
So many! But my favourite at the moment is the Deren pouch. It’s made from one piece of recycled leather, comes in several colours and is available in three sizes. I have every size in a different colour! I keep my pens and pencils in them, or receipts, or make up. Light blue and red are my favourite colours at the moment. What is the best piece of advice you have been given, about work or otherwise?
Acceptance. We can’t control everything and this moment is exactly as it should be. It’s a hard one and I’m still learning.
What can we expect from Papersmiths in the future?
We’re securing a new location at the moment and are hoping to open for a few weeks for pre Christmas trading. Our big dream is to open a permanent, big London store, with the same vibe our Bristol space in West or Central. Watch this space!
Photography by: Max McClure, Mark Ashbee, Morgane Bigault and Papersmiths | Papersmiths, Unit 7, Boxpark, Shoreditch, E1 6GY | Mon – Sat 11am – 7pm, Thur 11am – 8pm, Sun 12pm – 6pm | firstname.lastname@example.org | Papersmiths, Westfield, White City, W12 7GF | Papersmiths, 6A Boyce’s Avenue, Clifton Village, Bristol, BS8 4AA | Website: Papersmiths | Instagram: @paper_smiths | Twitter: @paper_smiths | Facebook: @shoppapersmiths