It can be argued that dread of receiving another unsolicited email conjures the opposite feeling from the delight of getting a handwritten letter. Escaping our cluttered inboxes is one factor fueling a renewed interest in paper goods and the range of analog props used in handwritten correspondence. Analysts report that the global market for stationery is growing and expected to reach the $128 billion mark by 2025.
Apart from traditional stationers like Crane & Co and Smythson, a slew of e-commerce startups like Sugar Paper, Minted, Moglea, and StudioSarah are helping spread the love for paper beyond wedding planning and socialite circles. The choices for personal stationery are so plentiful these days that it can be intimidating. Letterpress or offset? Baskerville or Copperplate? To emboss or deboss, that is the question.
A Canadian startup called Maurèle wants to simplify the task of specifying tasteful personalized paper goods. Founded by husband and wife duo Nick D’Urbano and architect Cece de la Montagne, its e-commerce platform offers obsessively designed templates inspired by the beautiful letterheads of historical figures like Albert Einstein, Salvador Dali, and Frank Lloyd Wright (some of which are documented in the addictive site Letterheady).
De la Montagne, whose family is in the printing business, says they labored over Maurèle’s six minimalist templates to appeal to discerning customers, choosing just the right paper stocks, sourcing eco-friendly vegetable inks, and working with independent type foundries to select the fonts. “From a business standpoint, we feel that the design-conscious customer just wasn’t being spoken to,” adds D’Urbano. They believe that type nerds in particular will appreciate the proper kerning and letter spacing for each of the 13 font options on the site. Custom notecards start at $28 for eight and $34 for 16 sheets of letter paper.
Beyond stationery fanatics, De la Montagne adds that Maurèle’s quiet luxury aesthetic might appeal to acolytes of the thriving mindfulness movement seeking to disconnect from the chaos of technology. Writing by hand, she explains, is fundamentally seizing a moment to gather your thoughts without distraction. Maurèle reflects a similar sensibility to her line of minimalist work bags for creative types, produced under the label Atelier YUL.
Stationery is just the start, D’Urbano explains. A week into their launch, they’re already planning a line of pens, leather goods, and reprints of books in the public domain, leveraging their connection with type and graphic designers. Their ultimate dream is to erect physical stores where one can sit down to write or read in an unhurried manner, says De la Montagne, who worked at a boutique architecture firm in New York until last year. “What would a library-cafe look like in the 21st century?” she muses.
If it’s an alternative to co-working coffee shops populated by caffeinated zombies on their laptops, we’re all for it.