DesignCurial In Conversation: Sidonie Warren

With the newest Papersmiths store now open in Boxpark, Shorditch. Sidonie Warren, co-founder of Papersmiths and B told DesignCurial all about the process of making the unique pastel palace of paper and pens.

Project Title: Papersmiths new store in Shoreditch, London

How were you commissioned?

Papersmiths is our sister company so it made sense to design the interiors and branding of the new London store. In 2011, Sidonie Warren and Kyle Clarke founded two companies – design studio B specialising in branding and commercial interior design and Papersmiths the design-led stationery and lifestyle store. Because of their two businesses, they are used to working hand-in-glove - it’s a cosy way to work! 

What was the brief from the client and how much were they involved?

We wanted to honour the minimal, browser-friendly atmosphere found in the Bristol Papersmiths store.

How did the brief affect the materials and design choices?

We worked with three primary materials – European solid Douglas timber, speckled jesmonite and dusky pink encaustic tiles. Together with a muted palette of light and neutral tones, B have created a bold yet simple interior to showcase the products. We collaborated with Nottingham based surface designer, Katie Gilles, on bespoke jesmonite surfaces and display plinths. Freckled with black and pink pigment, the jesmonite reflects the tactile qualities of handmade paper while chalky pink tiles and Dinesen Douglas floating shelves in a white Lye oil and soap finish provide a soft neutral backdrop.

How did your previous experience help you with this project?

We designed and built the interior of the Bristol Papersmiths store and have learnt what works and what doesn't in terms of creating a usable and enjoyable shopping experience. So we took the elements that are a success and replicated them in Shoreditch - like the magazine wall and card shelves - but made improvements at the same time. For example - the bespoke card shelving has a barrier which keeps the cards secure. 

Can you explain the layout of the project?

A long, narrow 300 sq/ft shipping container tiled in dusky pink encaustic tiles. At the entrance you are greeted with a 12mm neon glass tubing lighting reading ‘Papersmiths’. Either side of the space, speckled jesmonite display plinths and solid Dinesen Douglas timber shelving showcase the beautiful paper goods handpicked from designers and makers across the globe.

What problems or challenges did you face?

It was a challenge designing an interior with limited space, that still met the client's brief of wanting a browser friendly atmosphere. We kept the layout extremely simple and focused heavily on design details. The tiling took ten days instead of an estimated four. We still managed to meet our deadline though.

What do you feel were the most unusual design elements of the project?

The surface design is pretty unique. Besides the doughs fir and 6600 encaustic pink tiles, we enlisted the help of Katie Gilles, a surface designer based in Nottingham and Leeds. We were interested in working with Jesmonite and Katie creates bespoke surfaces by making wood moulds of each item and casting with Jesmonite. Then each process goes through a long period of setting, drying and sanding. Once we’d decided on our colour palette of white, black and dusky pink, we selected her freckled range and applied it to a variety of bespoke pieces. We had four huge wall panels made, two display plinths, numerous trays, pots, dishes and dowels for our peg board.

How do you think this project is pushing design forward? What makes it special?

Most of what you see in both Bristol and Shoreditch is handmade and designed for purpose, it keeps everything fresh and original which is important for Papersmiths. Often stationery stores will display their product with off-the-shelf display systems. Our bespoke approach has created a truly unique retail concept in the stationery world. 

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