The London stationery show has been a staple of the Bureau calendar for many a year now.
It’s situated in the functional Business Design Centre where once a year, stationery geeks gather to share the best and newest in the biz. This event also coincides with National Stationery Week which quite simply celebrates what we all love – stationery 🙂 #natstatweek
It is a trade show so unfortunately not open to the public. So Mishka, Emma and Faisal were tasked with being your eyes and ears 🙂 Here is what they have to report.
We all had differing expectations. Mishka now has two Stationery Shows under her belt, Faisal’s second time out and rookie on the block Emma.
Mishka: Half of our team visited on Tuesday, me and Faisal went on Wednesday. This was my 3rd show in a row, so I knew what to expect – lots of amazing stationery! 🙂 I knew time would be tight so I did my homework. Carefully clicking through all the exhibitors (100+), I made a list of stands I wanted to visit and products I wanted to see.
Some things never change – it is the same beautiful venue. This year there were a lot of workshops – I was particularly interested in trying Calligraphy. #writingmatters
Faisal: To be quite frank, I was feeling a little down on going to the London Stationery Show this year. I remembered enjoying my first time out to the show last year but would it be any different this time around? How much could really change over the course of the year? These doubts had begun to brew, possibly unfairly, as I am surrounded by the same old stuff on my desk.
With this mindset, I hadn’t actually planned to go around and explore the show floor too much, thinking there wouldn’t really be much new to see anyway. I settled on killing my time with a safe looking programme of seminars and workshops that would be running throughout the day.
Emma: I only joined Bureau Direct late last year, so this was my first London Stationery Show. I have been to trade shows before, but I have always wanted to go to a stationery trade show! Having heard all about it from the rest of the team, I was really excited to be getting a first look at some new products, meeting with some of my clients, and generally geeking out over lots of lovely pens and paper goods!
Emma: I have been to the Business Design Centre in Islington before; its a lovely venue with lots of natural light, and not too big. I confidently told the rest of the team I would visit the show in the morning, and be back after lunch (needless to say, that didn’t happen. What was I thinking?!). When you first enter the venue, there is a smallish floor space at ground floor level, and then steps behind leading up to a central mezzanine where the bulk of the exhibitors were. There were also additional exhibitors on the balconies surrounding the hall. Immediately, my eye was drawn to a central New Product Showcase display, with lots of new launches, and from there on in I tried to work my way up and down the aisles is a logical way, without being too distracted!
Mishka: Me and Faisal were in on the Wednesday, as soon as we entered we were met with the display of stationery award winners which were whittled down from the same stand a day earlier. There was a spectacular range of colour this year – lucky cat pencil pot immediately caught my eye. I love everything teal/mint, so I was glad to see #everythingteal
Faisal: Lucky for me then that the Stationery Gods (and Mishka) had other arrangements to my earlier pessimism. Walking through the open doors, you start to feel an extra bounce to your step with your eyes wide and ears pricked. We both took a deep breath and a good whiff of the scent of freshly opened stationery in the air. There’s no turning back once you’ve opened this Pandora’s box. Everything looked fresh and new but I felt right at home, ready to explore!
Emma: I had wanted to go to the show on the first (Tuesday) morning, because there was a Modern Calligraphy workshop being held by Manuscript pens and Joyce Lee of Artsynibs. Its a tall order trying to teach a mixed ability group in the middle of a trade show, in 30 mins, but Joyce was incredibly patient (and fun!), teaching us to sit in the right position, hold the dip pens the right way, and most importantly, relax, and BREATHE. We each came away with a couple of practice sheets and the basics with which to start practising; seeing examples of Joyce’s beautiful calligraphy has certainly inspired me.
Faisal: Having only amateurishly attempted calligraphy for a few minutes, a couple of months ago, hastily on some scraps of paper… this was a brilliant chance to get an initial step up to the table.
The one big thing I took away from that day was the posture. To help keep your writing steady you need a solid position for your arm on the table. Achieving this means angling your chair into the desk so your elbow has a good position on the table. I would have never in my life ever conceived this simple step would instantly improve all my strokes!
Mishka: I can proudly announce that by 10:35 our clean fingers were already splattered in ink 🙂 Joyce is an amazing artist and great teacher. Slowing down and being mindful about every stroke is what makes calligraphy almost zen like. I’d love to just sit there and play with flex dip pens all day… We were discussing printing paper templates at the table – you know you are in the good company when gsm comes up 🙂
Bureau’s Best Bits
Mishka: Paper Republic Grand Voyageur – notebook with leather cover. Similar to Traveler’s notebook which is incredibly trendy at the moment. Packaging, colours (green with red), presentation, sizes and functionality. Everything about this product presses all my stationery buttons…
The most fun stationery of the show award goes to the magnetic Polar pen. We probably spent an hour making shapes and launching magnets in the air and we continue to do so even as I write this 🙂 Andrew, the creator of the pen is a true inventor with plenty of ideas up his sleeve. I really hope to see his creations doing well…
I was eager to try out the Pentel Hybrid gel pens which Emma told me about the day before. These gels are rather magical. Believe it or not, but they look differently on white and black paper. Green turns into blue, black into red etc – whaaat?! Amazing! Imagine Emerald of Chivor ink in a gel pen 🙂 I salute you Pentel…Year in and year out you come up with new ideas, really well done!
Paper Republic - Leather!
POLAR pens - Magnets!
Emma: Stabilo Boss Pastel Highlighters. They looked so pretty in the display, and gorgeously photogenic. I have a set of four, but now I realise there are actually six in the range. Two more for my shopping list…
The Karlbox. A collaboration between fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld and Faber-Castell, this is the ultimate art set. West Design had a box on display at the show, and I couldn’t help but drool a little over it. Designed like a lacquer jewellery box, each drawer is organised by colour with pencils, markers, pastels and art pens – the entire rainbow. It has a limited production run, and retails at least £2000, but its oh so covetable!
Getting to make my own pen on the Kaweco stand! I got to choose a cap, grip section, barrel and fit them together. A couple of satisfying ‘clunks’ from their hand-operated machines, hey presto! My very own Kaweco Skyline was born.
Stabilo Boss Pastel
Faisal: As a veteran of one previous show so far this was also a must do event for me. Last year we had a whole plastic barrel of fun with the Studio Pen team and had an awesome collage of how we made them. This year me and Mishka wanted to step up our game and bring you a live demonstration! It was all going so well, we got the camera rolling and the machine clunking away.
It’s hard to pick my favourite but I will go out and say I had the most fun with the Polar magnet pen. Even though it will be rarely used to write with, it’s was just an absolute joy to have and play with! Perfect for a quick stress relieving break in the office.
Mishka: The best writer of the show goes to Manuscript 1856 pen.
This was on my ‘must see’ list after browsing online the night before. Manuscript hosted the Calligraphy event in the morning so as soon I waved goodbye to Joyce it took all my strength to stick to my planned route instead of running straight to their stand.
Let me tell you…It was love at the first sight. Each pen is turned by hand. The materials look spectacular. They have a choice for everyone, starting with a professional pocket percher in black. I was a bit dismissive of the beige but looking at it closely I saw the subtle elegance of the material, showing up like the calm looking surface of Saturn. The real stars of the show were the pearlescent and swirly type acrylics. Purple and turquoise finishes for the chic and red and orange for the brave.
I ran home with one in my bag, eager to ink it up and boy oh boy… Smooth like butter. Steel nibs can be as smooth as gold and this pen is exactly that. Big win in my book 🙂
Mishka: I’m so glad that I could go to the show – my creative juices and love for stationery have been refuelled 🙂 Big thanks to the organizers, we had a great show!
Emma: The show was everything I expected, and more. I ended up spending the whole day there, catching up with some of my contacts at Castelli, Moleskine and Caran d’Ache/Faber-Castell, playing with new products, and looking for stationery items that can be branded for our corporate clients.
Faisal: I was happily swayed by the end of the day, the Stationery show was great. These sorts of events just give you a breath of fresh air and sometimes that’s all you need. Actually, I wish I had more time to peruse the stalls. Unlike my colleagues I don’t think I even got around to seeing half of the stands really. Perhaps a bit too much time playing with magnets… 🙂
Faisal, Mishka and Emma
ps: we will see you again next year 🙂