Many moons ago, there was a whole world full of people writing thank-you letters and scribbling their to-do lists on personal notepads with sharpened lead. A lovely little time before the clicking of keys on keypads (which we’re ironically listening to even as we type this) and the invention of twitter or email. But while most nostalgia-deprived city slickers might bemoan this evolution, those who love design might agree that this new age has only pushed stationery brands to innovate and stand out if they want to be seen. The result? The kind of stationery articles our mothers, grandmothers, and even the child inside all of us would have probably poked someone in the thigh with a pointy pencil for.
From notebooks, oh so many notebooks, to the kind of stuff you never even knew you wanted (think paper clips, USB holders and organisers) we put together a little compilation of India’s most exciting stationery brands. So whether you’re looking to get somebody a more personalised gift or beautify your own work station, start noting these down digitally so that you can write them in your own notebook soon.
If you’re someone who’s all about no fuss and prefers products that are rooted to the basics, Dukaan’s collection will probably appeal to your sensibilities. Stepping away from the norms of graphics and heavy print, they lean towards basic geometrical designs. Their range of stationery items include only notebooks and journals, but there is something unexplainably beautiful about their clean, plain beige covers, not to mention their obviously excellent aesthetics, which are championed by their product shoots.
HG Loves: Their Kraft notebooks (available in three sizes) have a unique aesthetic appeal that the writer/sketcher in you will appreciate.
The Elephant Company’s goods bring the lightness of their name right into their goods that can single-handedly brighten up any work space. They’ve drawn openly from pieces of the Indian cityscape and contemporary life, and moulded it to create some truly off-beat card holders, diaries, journals, notebooks, gift cards and more, all of which are filled with personality.
HG Loves: Their collection card holders. The leather ones, for its simplicity and the steel ones for their fascinating depiction of things that we love about India.
From apparel to home decor, there isn’t much this brand hasn’t tried their hand at. Their commodities are just like the spirit the brand seems to embody–edgy, with a hint of spunk. What sets them apart from the rest is the fact that they source some their goods from designers all over the country, giving potential consumers plenty of variety.
HG Loves: Their great organisational accessories from file holders and pen holders to some particularly cute pins, magnets and other knick-knacks will make you super-efficient even as you look adorable while doing it.
They happen to be one of the few brands today that promises truly innovative merchandise, and fulfils it too. Ever imagined stationery that makes you snicker? Thanks to them, they are now a living, breathing reality. Their quirky one-liners add to the innovative ideas, like their Loudspeaker Penholders, their diaries and desk accessories with their trademark witty tag lines, which are bound to put a smile on your face. So for the next time you are frustrated or dealing with some writer’s block, get your office supplies from them to help you de-stress.
HG Loves: Their collection of ‘Brown Notebooks’ for its simplicity and of course, because they are “more essential than the little black dress.”
Wacky and eccentric are the best possible adjectives to describe their merchandise. All of WhySoSerious’ products are light-hearted and silly and will definitely incite a smile on your face. You might be surprised that most of them are articles that you would have loved/hoped to have during your school days which they’ve ensured stay idiosyncratic, and they produce each item in very limited quantity. However, to make up for it, they have made sure there are hundreds of items to chose from, each better than the other. So it’s best if you keep visiting their page in order to avoid missing out on any of their really crazy goods, you know, for the child in you.
HG Loves: Their Robot lunchboxes. Why weren’t they around when we were in school?
Everything with a ‘malgaadi stamp’ comes with dash of local flavour and with a perhaps subconscious nod toward’s R.K. Laxman’s ‘Malgudi Days,’ that captured the innocence of childhood all too well. This is a brand that has gone out of their way to celebrate the unique culture that India has to offer and they’ve travelled across the country so that they could absorb every bit of its whimsical spirit that they have now transferred into their merchandise.
HG Loves: Their DIY products like the camera photo frame and colourful typewriter calendar, because you get to take credit for it being as awesome as it is.
Chumbak takes objects from our everyday life that we probably would’nt give a second thought to and turn them into snazzy designs for their creations. It’s a guarantee that you won’t find stationery so wackily beautiful, elsewhere. If you are ever on the lookout for something jazzy and fun to brighten up your life, be it apparel, accessories or even home decor, you’re bound to find something here.
HG Loves: Their collection mostly features only notebooks but they’re all so beautiful, you’re likely to want them all.
8. Nappa Dori
We featured them before for their unique bags and this might not even be the last time but if you gave a look at everything they have on offer you’d know exactly why we can’t seem to get enough of them. Hand-crafted out of luxe leather, their stationery is no less than a collectible.
HG Loves: Their products are all just so elegantly constructed it’s hard to make a pick but their ‘Harness Organiser’ would be the first one on our ‘To-buy’ list.
Their minimalist designs are what makes them one-of-a-kind. Their aim is to create products that will “inspire, elate, excite and encourage” their customers, something which they happen to be doing really well. Most of their office supplies, be it organisers, note cards or calendars, generally happen to feature just a witty one-liner or a small, uncomplicated design set against a plain background.
HG Loves: We swear we’re not notebook hoarders or anything. They really do have some great ones! But it wouldn’t hurt to check out their calendars as well.
10. India Circus
India Circus is not Krsna Mehta’s first tryst as a designer. He’d been designing lifestyle products for various brands when he decided to put together his own that that would provide the loud, flamboyant patterns that he is known for. Mughal era motifs to images of modern urban scapes, his designs are simply an urban take on our country’s vibrancy.
HG Loves: Their notebooks, for it being a tribute to all the things we love most about India.
11. The Postbox
Born out of a vision to provide a platform for upcoming designers and photographers, the Postbox features some wonderfully unique items that you will definitely want on your desk. They carefully select artists who have something different to offer making sure that their assemblage, though small, will remain distinctive.
HG Loves: Their veneer wood notebooks, because it looks like we can make some really cool board games out of its cover.
12. Paperclip store
Plain, solid-coloured covers are their style statement. They produce custom notebooks, journals and diaries that they believe will help its customers sell their brand. They also take special care to use only eco-friendly processes and materials to produce their items, making sure that minimal harm is done to the environment. A paper company that tries to save the environment? That might be a first…
HG Loves: While we do love their block-coloured notebooks, their collection of the city series notebook are definitely our personal favourites.
13. Kulture Shop
The idea behind the Kulture Shop is quite a novel one–to create a platform for talented and emerging graphic designers, by hiring them to create prints for their merchandise. This indie-design boutique offers its customers an assemblage based on themes that they choose each month. So make sure you visit every month to check out their latest, indigenous designs. And to add to their list of incredible books, Kulture Shop’s latest Sketchbooks are a special treat of top-quality paper and design.
HG Loves: Obsessive tea/ coffee drinker? Their mugs are a great for either drinking your chai, or storing all your stationery. Plus (you knew it was coming) their notebooks for their brightly coloured pages and jazzed up graphic designs on its covers.
This one doesn’t quite fit in this compilation as easily since they don’t exactly make their own stationery but they do a fantastic job of curating articles from other brands, one of our favourites being Chimpwear, and bring them all within one roof. They ensure that they have a great assortment of merchandise for you to choose from by doing this too, which is certainly something that sweetens the deal.
HG Loves: Their USB collection, which they import from abroad. Who wouldn’t want a USB modelled after their favourite super-hero?
[Since we last posted this, we received a huge number of suggestions to include brands we had missed and of all of them, it did seem blasphemous that we missed out on these two below. Forgive us oh stationery lords, and do accept our heartfelt apologies.]
Planners, notebooks, journals, organisers…this wonderful, fuss-free brand has just about everything you’ll need to help you get your
desk life in order. They have create all their products, keeping in mind the people who likes to have products are fuss-free. Living by the motto, ‘Good design is as little design as possible’, their focus is on products that are visually simple and yet colourful. Each one of their notebooks has been made by hand, ultimately crafting together products that are a perfect blend of fresh, crisp and cheerful.
HG Loves: We want to say notebooks. But, we must admit, their sketchbooks make us want to fish out a pencil and unleash the (non-existent) Da Vinci in us!
This brand defines themselves as “curators of cool” and with good reason. A one-stop-shop for quirky and fun stationery, accessories, and gift items, they have everything you need to give your room a makeover. Apart from the collection that is put together by their in-house design team, they boast of a great assortment of merchandise that they have sourced from prominent Indian and international designers. Do make sure you have money in your account before you decide to pay them a visit, because you are definitely going to find a whole lot of things you’ll want even though you never knew it before.
HG Loves: It was almost impossible for us to make this choice, until we came across their dino-shaped memo holder!
17. Origin One
Meet Origin One, the retail arm of The Grafiosi Studio of Art & Design and our current stationery obsession. Currently, it offers designer stationery, paper products, home décor, wall art and concept books. Started by Pushkar Thakur, this store positions itself as ‘a collection of everyday objects for the design loving global nomad.’ The brand opened launched by way of a six-month pop-up by the ocean in Goa in 2014 but officially launched at the London Design Festival in September 2015 and had its brick-and-mortar presence in New Delhi by November later that year. Thakur’s designs are sleek and minimal, and he favours darker tones over lighter colour palettes. The books draw you in with their rich and smooth bindings, and there is an unapologetic simplicity in their sophistication. And perhaps, most importantly, all of Origin One’s paper is sourced from sustainable forests.
HG Loves: We have to admit we have a bit of a soft spot for their immensely chic Blank Black Memo Book and their Hard Bound Diary.
Words: Krupa Joseph