We work with some of the most expert printers, bookbinders and paper mills in the world. We put a lot of work into finding the right people to collaborate with us, since the materials and processes are integral to our design. We enjoy working with people that are expert in their craft and share our ambition to create something exceptional.
Known by the design and publishing trades as the leaders in Ota-binding, Hexspoor is based in the Noord-Brabant region of Holland. Set up by Grandfather Hexspoor in 1945 and now run by the third generation of the Hexspoor family. They strive for excellence and embrace bespoke requirements. They work with us to refine our notebook designs, trialling materials and bindings.
TAKEO PAPER MILL
Founded in Tokyo by Eichi Takeo in 1899. Committed to excellence and innovation, Takeo continues to lead in the production of fine papers in Japan. In their own words, “Paper has long played an important role in our society and economy, always present in our surroundings like air or water. As well as its function as a recording medium, paper is appreciated as a beautiful material that adorns and enriches our daily lives with its presence. Takeo’s fine papers combine this functionality and beauty.”
A family-run business based in Bridge of Don, just north of Aberdeen, Scotland. We work closely with Windmill as we develop new concepts, and through proofing and printing of each item. We like working with them as they are perfectionists who take great pride in their work. They use three beautifully-maintained Original Heidelberg machines, as well as a litho press.
We believe that a notebook should be a properly bound book, designed not only to withstand, but to improve with, everyday use. Developments in binding techniques have made faster, cheaper binding methods available, which result in a stiff spine that needs to be ‘broken in.’ At MARK+FOLD we use only thread-sewing and, where necessary, a thin layer of glue (applied cold, as in traditional bookbinding, to retain flexibility). This makes a book that simply falls open when placed on a flat surface.
Pioneered in the 1980s by Finnish bookbinder Ota, this method has all the advantages of traditional case binding, combined with a soft cover. Large sheets of paper are folded down to make 16-page sections, which are sewn together to create a ‘book block.’ Since the book block is not glued into the case along the spine, the book has a beautiful flexibility and achieves an excellent ‘layflat.’ Carefully-placed creases along the spine create a neat hinge; the result is a mechanism that is as durable as it is elegant. Our signature Notebook Mark One is ota-bound by the family-run bookbindery Hexspoor in Holland.
The most simple way to make a book, a single length of thread is stitched through three holes along the spine, meeting in the middle on the centrefold with a simple knot. We use this simplest of bindings for our exercise books, which are hand-made at our London workshop.
Materials are our starting point, and we look to make as small an intervention as possible to show off the characteristics of a particular paper. We have an ever-expanding library of samples and swatches, which are our source of inspiration for new designs. We mostly source materials made in the UK, and only ever use paper that is FSC Certified (responsibly sourced either from recycled pulp or renewable forests). We use papers made further afield if they are unique and irresistible.
WHITE WRITING PAPERS
We sampled over 100 different white papers to find the best writing paper for our notebooks. A handful of papers stood out as being everyone’s favourites, and these are the ones we now use in our notebooks and exercise books:
Made in Scotland by the banks of the River Leven, Naturalis is one of the finest uncoated papers made in the UK due to the extremely fine pulp used in its manufacture. It is made using a twin-wire Foudrinier machine, which makes it equally smooth on both sides. We especially like the ‘Vanilla’ shade for its honey warmth. We use this for our signature Notebook Mark One
Made in western Sweden in the village of Munkedal, Munken Design is an extremely good quality uncoated paper. It is whiter and has slightly more texture than Naturalis; it is still extremely smooth and great both for sketching and writing.
First made in the 1940s in upstate New York, Mohawk Superfine is arguably the finest uncoated paper in the world. It feels luxurious to touch and is a delightful surface on which to write.
Made at the Stoneywood Mill in Aberdeenshire, established in 1710 and now the only remaining paper mill on the River Don. Olin Smooth has a beautiful smooth surface for writing. It comes in a more lightweight 100gsm, which we use for our Exercise Books.
Changes in the paper industry over the past thirty years have seen a decline in the number of factories, and those that have survived are those putting research and development at the forefront of their production. The results are quite amazing, and at MARK+FOLD we like to showcase some of the most exceptional papers we have come across:
Colorset Flint Grey
This paper is made in Germany from 100% recycled post-industrial waste from the manufacture of till receipts. The German government has strict rules about industrial waste, so to put this bi-product to use it is dyed a series of colours to make Colorset. We chose the beautiful rich Flint grey for the end papers of our Limited edition Cloth-bound journal.
Takeo Tamashiki Arare
A remarkable paper from Japanese Mill Takeo, employing a traditional watermarking technique called Sukashi using a relief mould to create a dot pattern across the surface, which is most apparent when held upto the light. We use this for our Baskerville exclamation card.
Wild is made in the UK from 35% cotton fibres. Its construction is visible on the surface, with its pulp-like texture reminiscent of traditional paper-making techniques. Its bulk and durability make it a great material for a functional, everyday object that develops a beautiful patina over time. Its very high bulk gives it a pillowy quality, meaning it takes foiling and debossing extremely well, as demonstrated on our Ota-bound notebooks.
Colorplan Park Green
Colorplan is known amongst graphic designers for its tactile surface and unique range of colours. It is dyed during the paper-making process, so that the colour has an understated, flat tone compared with printed colour. It was developed in the 1960s to reflect the technicolour fashion of the time and the colour range continues to stand out. We use it for our blind debossed Avant Garde exclamation card.
Milled on the banks of the River Don in Scotland, Keaykolour is made using 30% recycled pulp. We use the navy blue shade of this utilitarian card for the covers of our Exercise Books.
Special thanks to G.F.Smith, Antalis, ArjoWiggins and Fenner Paper for all of the beautiful paper samples they have provided to date. Thanks also to the bookbinderies who have made us dummies as part of our development process.