100 White Papers
The idea of Mark+Fold was percolating for many years before our launch in 2015. Here Mark+Fold founder Amy Cooper-Wright shares the story of her MA in Design, which focused on a study of white papers. This eventually led to the shortlist of papers we use in our notebooks.
Focus on white paper
'When I was studying for my MA in Graphic Design, I decided to focus on paper. I interviewed people who had worked in the industry for decades, and started to build up a knowledge of paper production which would eventually feed into my work at Mark+Fold.
Inspired by Kenya Hara's 'White'
Around this time I discovered the writing of Japanese designer Kenya Hara. His concept of 'empty vessels into which we project our ideas' was front of mind as we conceptualised the first range for Mark+Fold. And the way he talks about paper as a material, a glowing white surface inviting you to make marks upon it, this gave legitimacy to a feeling I had long held about paper. I had felt this, but he helped me to articulate the feeling and believe it was an idea worthy of more attention. He even published a book simply called 'White.'
The 100 White Papers project
This involved gathering over 100 paper samples, all from different mills around the world, in shades of white or cream, and between around 90gsm and 120gsm (ie. the sort of thickness of notebook pages). By narrowing the focus to this small range of colours and weights, I was able to really notice the subtler differences between them — the texture, surface, smell, how it responded to cutting, tearing, moisture, and finding out the story of how it was made.
There was the Japanese paper made from sheep's wool, which smelled a bit like a sheep! There were numerous examples of 'off-white' which on closer inspection has subtle differences in tone. There were many samples that claimed to be 'smooth' but when I tried out different writing instruments they all behaved slightly differently.
By the end of the project I could identify many of them by touch.
A few years later, when we came to develop the first notebook for Mark+Fold, I already had a shortlist of papers we would consider for the notebook pages. And the paper we use today was one of the 100 White Papers.'