We’re always being told that the future is online, digital and virtual. But is that really the case?
One of the great things about stationery is that it’s old. Pens and paper have been around for a long time. There’s something to be said for technology that doesn’t change too often. I’ve never handed someone a pen only to be told it’s not compatible with their piece of paper. Compare that to tablets and phones that are obsolete as soon as they come out.
(We should also remember that millions of people around the world get their jobs done with simple tools. Give someone a notepad, a pen and a calculator and they’ll be able to run a small business. Basic but achievable.)
In 2012 the UK stationery market increased by 2.6%. In the same year, Guardian writer Lucy Mangan said that premium stationery lines had risen hugely for some retailers. She wondered if that’s because we see stationery as full of creative potential; we can dream about the novels we’ll write when holding a pen and paper. Computers don’t have the same romance.
Mangan also suggests that stationery promises us organisation; that everything will be ship-shape and Bristol fashion, just as long as we have the right combination of diaries, sticky notes and calendars. And we can treat ourselves to luxury or creative stationery, as a kind of fashion statement. (I think one can get away with having an arty notepad on your desk more easily than having a laptop covered in stickers.)
Finally, for me, there’s one more thing: whether you’re in Totnes or Timbuktu, the fonts you see on a computer screen are the same the world over. There’s nothing personal about them. But with stationery, what you write is unique because of your handwriting. There may be others like it, but that is yours.
So what’s the future of stationery? Well, we may not rely on it as much, but we’ll always want it – and desire is a powerful thing.
Previously on The Euroffice Blog…