Our Polite Society about paper
What is your favorite paper and why?
We don’t really have a favorite paper. As many designers of our generation, for a while we liked the formal and conceptual qualities of cheap packaging paper. The overuse of this type of paper has made it less exciting however, but it can still be interesting in a specific context. Recently we used it for a record sleeve, one of its original applications.
Could you give an example of a design you created where paper played a special or particularly functional role?
In 2009 we designed monthly publications for OCCII where we used a different paper each time. This gave us the possibility to test papers we might have not used otherwise. This complete neglect of functionality and context has lead to some nice discoveries.
For the quarterly program folders we designed for Bauhaus Dessau last year, we had to chose a very thin paper, because the printing sheet had to be folded down from A2 to A6. We discovered this paper through a leaflet we picked up in Belgium, and simply called the designer to ask for the name. Half a year later, a designer from Germany called to ask for the name of the paper we used for Bauhaus. It was nice how this paper traveled across borders by word-of-the-mouth.
How important is the choice of paper in your designs? Do you spend a lot of time choosing the paper?
We usually take those kind of decisions together, and since we have quite a different feeling for paper – similar to our perception of color – there is no recipe or standard process for that. Often the paper choice comes quite casual, especially Jens is intuitive and fearless with taking that kind of decision. This process often goes “without words” and since we’re working from different locations since last year, deciding about paper has become even more abstract: we now both have the same paper collection, and often a long silence and a crackling sound can be heard when we’re both looking at papers while on Skype.
Could you mention a designer whose paper choice appeals to you?
We can instantly identify books designed by Mevis & van Deursen, they feel concentrated and relaxed, like coming home after a swim and sauna. There is a Philips users manual for a toaster on our desk since a long time, which we love for its paper and folding. Often such anonymous designs are spot on, so unpretentious and beautiful.
Is there something missing in the current range of available paper?
We get quite overwhelmed by the possibilities of any paper collection available, so no, we don’t really miss anything specific.
What is your biggest frustration in the field of paper?
We don’t get so frustrated about paper.
Is it difficult or easy for designers in your country to find information on paper, paper samples and/or paper collections?
Both in Sweden and in the Netherlands it’s rather easy to get hold of a paper collection, and to order free samples. But the best source are as so often friends and colleagues. Especially with our studio mates Janna & Hilde we often talk about paper. And with Ziga, who recommended us for this interview.
How do you see the future of paper?
We don’t really have a strong opinion about that, it’s a bit like thinking about the future of bread, quite a local story. But it seems obvious that the development of screen based media and the paper industry are connected in one way or another. We don’t mourn ‘the end of print’, but we’re curious how things will develop within our young profession, which has always been much shaped by technical developments. In Germany there’s a traditional glass factory which in recent years has specialized in developing “technical glass” – high-tech glass used in science. Maybe that has something to do with your question.
Interview by De Monsterkamer with Our Polite Society