If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to value and treasure independent retailers. Some of the best and most creative shops have been vulnerable to the effects of lockdown and, if we want them to survive, it’s very much a case of ‘use them or lose them’ in the months and years ahead. Especially if you’re a lover of unique and beautiful stationery.
In a world dominated by digital, the most authentic, artisanal and quirky stationery can help visually inspire you as well as getting you organised in your creative work. But where you can find such marvels? To help you out, this article brings together the very best online shops for stationery addicts in 2020. So don’t pander to Amazon and the big chains: check out these inspiring independent stores and explore the treasure trove of incredible stationery they have to offer.
Inchiostro and Paper prides itself on being “inspirational, ethical, minimal”, and who wouldn’t want all of that from your stationery? Its notebooks, journals and planners are also rather beautiful, not to mention efficient and organised. Founded in 2017, this boutique store is based in Italy (the name is Italian for ‘ink’) but shipping is free on its products worldwide.
This store, founded in 2012 and based in Covent Garden, London, sells a fabulous array of stationery products, as well as decorative paper, art materials and office supplies. You’ll find an astonishing selection of rare and exquisite stationery here; items chosen with love for both their utility and beauty. Choosing Keeping will ship worldwide for orders of £10 and over.
Run by husband-and-wife duo, Jana and Marko, The Completist focuses on sustainable stationery and work mainly with small British manufacturers. Based in Peckham, south London, it sells over 400 products including art cards, notebooks, pens, washi tape and gift wrap. These are typically bright, bold, colour and eye-catching, but it’s the close attention to detail in the designs that we admire the most.
Based in Manchester, UK, and helping people make things since 1886, Fred Aldous sells a huge range of arts and crafts products, both in its physical store and online. This includes pens, pencils, sketchpads, sticky notes and clips… but too many to mention here, as they stock more than 25,000 items in total!
Based in Covent Garden, London Graphic Centre has been serving the UK’s design and arts communities since 1973. They are dedicated to making exploring, discovering and buying the best creative supplies and design-led stationery easy for graphic designers, architects, artists, fashionistas, enthusiasts and students. The online store mirrors the retail space and can deliver same-day to London, next-day across the UK and to most overseas locations.
Established in 2000 in East London’s market district, Labour and Wait now has four locations in London and one in Tokyo. Both its stores and its website offer an evolving range of timeless, functional products for everyday life, including stationery, books and homeware. These are sourced from specialist makers from around the world, many of whom manufacture their goods in the traditional way and to their original designs.
Sydney store Pulp stocks a wide range of quirky, unique and hard-to-find stationery paper products from around the world, including pens and pencils, wrapping paper, notebooks, tape and stickers. Its site is updating regularly with special offers and new products, so it’s a good place to visit whenever you’re in need of stationery inspiration.
First launched online in 2014 by pencil collector Caroline Weaver, the success of CW Pencil was quickly followed by the launch of a physical store in New York. Today, the brand sells everything a pencil enthusiast might want or need, from sharpeners and erasers to refills and replacements.
Based in Cheshire, The Green Gables has been on a mission since 2010 to provide “green and gorgeous gifts and stationery to spread a little joy”. From affirmation, intention and mantra cards to the year-long daily gratitude journal, these products are all carefully designed to encourage positive thoughts and deeds, as well as being environmentally friendly in their production.
Sparrow + Wolf is a Birmingham-based stationery and home furnishing studio that designs its own quirky, colourful and fun, yet high-quality products including notebooks, cards and gift wrap. We particularly love its weather-themed notebooks, which take a design approach we’ve not seen before (and that we’d love to see more of).
Based in Florida and founded in 2009, Rifle Paper Co. is an international stationery and lifestyle brand founded by husband-wife team Anna and Nathan Bond. Its notepads, address books, pencils and pens are to die for and check out their selection of art prints too.
Greenwich Letter Press is a letterpress studio and shop in New York City’s West Village that’s something of an institution. Offering wedding and stationery letterpress design and printing, they’re currently celebrating over 14 years of being a women-owned business. A great source of uniquely curated letterpress greeting cards, letter sets, notebooks and gifts. Not least because all paper is either made from 100% tree-free post-consumer cotton or is 100% recycled, all inks are soy based, and all work is produced by wind energy.
Another store founded by graphic designers, Papersmiths sells beautifully curated stationery, books and magazines, greetings and gifts, online and from its two physical stores in Brighton, Bristol and London (Chelsea, King’s Cross and Shoreditch). Expect brands such as Hay, Ola and Midori.
Founded in 2008 by Céline Leterme and Jon Dowling, Counter-Print started life as a seller of vintage design books but has since extended its products to include some fabulous stationery, from notebooks and organisers to erasers and staplers.
Present & Correct was founded online in 2008 by two graphic designers as, in their own words: “A place for our designs, things we love by other designers from around the world & vintage items which we discover on trips and foraging expeditions.” They go on sourcing trips four times a year, and their evident passion for stationery shines through their collections of unique and quirky products, from 18 different countries.
In 1997, while travelling around Australia in an old VW, Kerri Binnie was thinking about all the clutter that came with Christmas, and came up with the idea of prototyping a Christmas card holder using cereal packets. The following year, New York’s MoMA ordered 10,000, and BusyB was born. Now headquartered in Edinburgh, its award-winning stationery range includes colourful, elegant and beautiful diaries, planners, calendars, notebooks and organisers.
Nook is a “design & life store” in London and online that carefully curates items across the UK, Europe and beyond, including some very moreish stationery. Founded in 2012 by friends Gemma, Jack and Kate, their shared passion for design shines through every single product on show here, from notebooks to pencil cases.
A wondrous world of ‘paper goods and printed happiness’, Sukie is inspired by nature, folk art and printed ephemera collected from owners Darrell and Julia’s travels. Based in East Sussex, they constantly innovate new styles of notebook using original printing techniques such as screen printing, all using either FSC approved, recycled or ‘rescued’ papers. They have also taken their love of printing to other mediums such as printed textiles, homewares and fashion.
Il Papiro is an Italian company that produces items in hand-decorated paper with techniques inspired by the tradition of Tuscany. With an outpost in Covent Garden, their products including bound diaries, photo albums, desk accessories, frames, keepsake boxes and stationery are printed with artisan care on watermarked papers and 100% cotton card stock. You can order customised designs from them too.
Launched in 2006, Milligram is a physical store based in Melbourne that also claims to be Australia’s “largest online store for boutique and designer stationery”. It does a fine range of notebooks, pens and pencil, fine paper and diaries, with brands including Moleskine, Rhodia, LAMY, Kaweco, and O-Check Design.
First opened in 2016 by Tessa Sowry, London store The Stationer was born out of a love for ‘everything else that goes on a desk’. Inspired by classic design and great functionality, their mission is to make your desk look cool, but also be more organised. Products include pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, cards, wrap and tape.
“We know paper,” proclaims Paper Point with confidence, and they’re on a mission to help you find the best paper, envelopes and more. They’re known for their wide range of products, friendly service and expert advice, and you can order online or in-store at their South Melbourne shop. A great place to head for paper, envelopes, and all kinds of stationery, from personal to occasion-based.
Fans of modern calligraphy should head to London store Quill, for its stunning collection of luxury stationery goods, from notebooks, cards and planners to pens, pencils and personalised correspondence cards. Known for its clean design and luxury looks, whether you’re after a leather notebook cover or a scallop-edged notecard, this shop’s products are definitely a cut above.
Artwork by Shillington Manchester Teacher Nick Smith.
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