The rise of kids stationery chain Smiggle

Brightly coloured children’s stationery chain Smiggle, the profit powerhouse ready to roll into Europe, has grown rapidly in just 14 years.

The first Smiggle store opened in Melbourne by founders Stephen Meurs and Peter Pausewang in 2003. Apparel retailer the Just Group, the company behind Just Jeans, bought Smiggle in 2007.

Solomon Lew’s company Premier Investments bought the Just Group in 2008 and at the time, Smiggle was making $19-million from 35 stores. In that same year, Smiggle opened its first New Zealand store.

Smiggle expanded into Singapore in 2011, then in the UK in 2014, followed by Malaysia and Hong Kong in 2016.

It now has 300 stores across Australia and overseas and in the 2017 financial year, made $238.9 million in sales.

Premier plans to expand Smiggle into the Netherlands and Belgium in 2018.

Source: SBS 

The writing tool renaissance

Here’s a fact you have to write down to believe: Over the past 10 years, during which the world has adopted smartphones and social media, sales of fountain pens have risen.

Retail sales, in particular, have grown consistently. In 2016 they were up 2.1 percent from the year before, making fountain pens a $1 billion market, according to a report by Euromonitor International. To compare, the overall market for personal luxury goods—watches, handbags, cars—was stagnant over the same period, suggesting that a good pen is a better investment than the bespoke suit in which it’s stowed.

These forces are even more pronounced in the Japanese market, where a study by Yano Research Institute Ltd. finds that fountain pen sales grew a remarkable 19.1 percent from 2014 to 2015, a leap attributed in part to an increased number of foreign buyers purchasing high-end Japanese products. In the Digital Age, it seems, the written word is the ultimate luxury.

The Nakaya Fountain Pen Co., in Tokyo, was one of the first pen makers to realize this, doubling down on individual craftsmanship even as the industry as a whole began trending toward mass production. What seemed like folly 20 years ago is starting to look more and more like smart business.

Nakaya is the brainchild of Toshiya Nakata, grandson of Platinum Pen Co. founder Shunichi Nakata. Toshiya’s father, Toshihiro, was president of Platinum in the mid-1990s when several of its most experienced craftsmen announced their retirement. For Toshiya, who’d left his banking job to learn the family business at the age of 29, the news came at a precarious time: The looming threat of email had fountain pen manufacturers worried that their product was doomed to obsolescence—or at least to a shift down-market.

Fearing that the workers’ departure represented an irreplaceable loss of skills, the youngest Nakata formed Nakaya, a line that would be a wholly owned subsidiary of Platinum but work independently. “There is a limit to the mass-produced fountain pen business,” says Nakata, a lean man in rimless glasses with a brusque, matter-of-fact manner, when we meet in Nakaya’s tiny but bustling headquarters in Taito City, Tokyo.

The retirees had occasionally been called upon to repair and adjust older pens, but that wasn’t enough for Nakata. “I thought, Why don’t we make some fountain pens?” In 1999 he signed up the pensioners to return to their familiar positions. Kohsuke Matsubara, a lathe master, went back to turning pen barrels from brownish-gray ebonite, a hard rubber material. (Matsubara still turns many of the Nakaya barrels himself.) Kazuo Maruyama, a metal-press specialist, fabricated nibs and pocket clips. Sadao Watanabe hand-adjusted all of the early Nakaya pens. In 2003 designer Shinichi Yoshida was hired away from Platinum to create models for the Nakaya line.

On the 17mm-diameter Long Cigar Chinkin Dragonflies fountain pen ($4,000), designs are carved into an urushi base using chisels, lacquer is inlaid in the grooves, then metal leaf and powder are added.
Photographer: Keirnan Monaghan for Bloomberg Businessweek; Prop stylist: Theo Vamvounakis
According to Nakata, as much as 75 percent of its sales come from outside Japan—even though the company has no presence on the trade show circuit, not even at the annual Collectible Fountain Pen Supershow in Washington, billed as the “largest pen event in the world.” Nor will it be attending the London Writing Equipment Show in October, one of the biggest gatherings of its kind in Europe.

Instead, news of Nakaya spreads mainly through word-of-mouth on message boards such as Fountain Pen Geeks and on blogs, where the pens are described as “smooth,” “glossy,” “glowing,” and “poetic.” The only U.S. distributor is the online shop, which always has some items in stock for immediate purchase and can make minor adjustments on the fly. A few used models can be found on EBay, as well.

The ideal way to experience a Nakaya, though, is to hold it and feel it in your hand. The best way to test the pens is at one of the many impressive fountain pen emporiums in Tokyo: the vast Maruzen bookstore, a few blocks from the Imperial Palace; the airy rooms of stationery superstore Itoya, hidden among Ginza’s luxury boutiques; or the well-stocked specialist shop Kingdom Note in bustling Shinjuku.

Cruising their display cabinets can make a visitor feel as if she’s seeing double, or perhaps even octuple. The pens from Japan’s three big manufacturers—Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor—tend to look awfully similar, and after a while, the rows of dark, somber objects with metal clips and center bands can start to run together.

But even a novice can identify products from Nakaya. The first clue is the color palette, which explodes in reds, greens, pinks, ochers, cornflower blues, even bright oranges, all so shiny the pens almost appear to be underwater.

Some feature small, gold-colored pocket clips, but most are unadorned—no branding, no hardware, just cylinders of glistening lacquer. They’re the sort of sparkly item tailor-made for the Instagram era, but good luck getting the pens’ biggest fans to define their exact appeal.

“You can feel something when you hold a Nakaya that’s different from all other pens”
“I can’t explain it,” says Brad Dowdy. The fountain pen aficionado has devoted millions of words to the merits of analog writing tools during the past decade of producing his Pen Addict blog, but when it comes to the Nakaya Portable Cigar fountain pen—his personal favorite—he’s at a loss.

Sure, the nib is butter smooth, the weight perfectly distributed, and the blue-green finish, known as ao-tamenuri, spectacular. But the Nakaya is so distinctive, it throws him for a loop. “You can feel something when you hold a Nakaya that’s different from all other pens,” he says with an air of slightly exasperated admiration.

For Brian Anderson, a longtime collector, it’s the range of customization that separates a Nakaya from the rest of the market. Anderson, who with his wife, Lisa, operates the thriving online and brick-and-mortar operation Anderson Pens out of Appleton, Wis., says the brand “is intended to be bespoke. You can have whatever model you want, whatever finish, with whatever nib.”

As long as you’re willing to wait. The company makes only about 1,500 pens per year. And because many coats of lacquer are required to create the deep, even finish Nakaya is known for, the process takes about two months to complete.

Today, almost all the newly turned barrels are shipped to Wajima, a small peninsula six hours by train to the west of Tokyo. The area’s claim to fame, and its status in Japan as an “intangible cultural asset,” is the urushi lacquerware that artisans have been creating there since the 1500s.

The smooth, lustrous finish that has become Nakaya’s calling card begins its life as the milky white sap of the urushi tree. Although the trees still grow in Wajima, the region hasn’t been able to keep up with demand, and these days the sap is usually imported from China for the undercoating; the homegrown version is used for the top layers.

Urushi sap turns a light amber when exposed to air, but once it’s been filtered to remove impurities, more colorful pigments are added, and the resulting lacquer is then painted onto the pen barrels. After each coating, the urushi must be allowed to dry—or, more properly, to absorb moisture from the air, which causes it to solidify.

Between layers, the urushi is painstakingly buffed to a high sheen, and on many Nakaya pens, multiple layers of a second color are applied and then polished so the first color is barely visible—where the cap meets the barrel, on the threads, or on the lip right above the nib. Nakaya’s popular 10-sided Decapod model highlights this particular effect: Where the edges meet, reds, oranges, and greens show through the darker top coats.

Given the handmade quality of the pens, the entry-level models are surprisingly affordable, starting at $650. Sailor, Nakaya’s closest competitor, starts its urushi line at $1,900; the mass-produced black-resin Montblanc 149, a classic status-symbol gift, costs about $950.

The Yano study also notes that the increasing availability of high-quality, low-cost models for entry-level users is creating brand-new fountain pen fans. The finding hints at a virtuous connection between Nakaya’s prestige line and Platinum’s full range, which includes the Preppy, a $2 refillable fountain pen for the Japanese market.

Although some partisans of Pelikan International Corp., Montblanc, and other European brands complain that Nakayas lack heft, that lightness is a boon for the people who use them. Dowdy, the Pen Addict, describes his Nakaya as “disappearing” into his hand.

Lightheartedness is also part of the Nakaya spirit. Starting in 2003, the company released a line of converters—devices that allow a pen to use bottled ink as well as a cartridge—that are hand-painted with images of seaweed, tadpoles, cherry blossoms, and maple leaves. The converters aren’t visible through the pens’ opaque barrels, making them the equivalent of Mickey Mouse boxers worn under a bespoke business suit, a hidden bit of whimsy that leaves the stylish facade intact.

In the fountain pen world there is something of a tension between collectors, people who like to play Noah and buy two of each item, and users, those who take pleasure in putting the pens through their paces. Nakayas appeal to both. They are indisputably works of art, masterpieces crafted by hand using skills refined over a lifetime. And yet a pen with a nib this good—sexy, responsive, fine-tuned to the owner’s hand—deserves to be used. It would be a crime against writing to keep it locked away in a display case.

By June Thomas for Bloomberg

Why paper won’t die

Boxes. Labels. Books. Your child’s first report card. A tissue for their first heartbreak. All made from paper; a renewable, recyclable material that is an inextricable, often invisible part of our lives. Think about it …from the moment we wake up to when we nod off with a book in hand, paper is there.

In a world that strives to go paperless, very often for the wrong environmental reasons, the paper industry firmly believes that paper is making a comeback in some quarters, and that it is here to stay.

The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) shares the reasons why paper is good for us, our economy and our environment.

1.         It’s versatile

Paper is categorised into three principal types  – printing and writing, packaging and tissue – and chances are that we use each kind every day.

Paper in its most common form – white copy paper – could be the start of something, a blank canvas, a new project or design, your first book. A variety of printing and writing papers help to  communicate and inform through news and advertising, the label on the coffee jar, the medicine box insert and the month-end supermarket specials. Paper also educates – from your child’s first reader to their last matric exam.

Paper packages and protects. From our eggs, teabags and cereal, milk and juice in cartons, to medicine and cosmetics. And let’s not forget that new computer equipment for the office or your online shopping order.

From the bestseller of your favourite author to a night at the movies with popcorn, a drink and a box of chocolates, paper entertains.

Facial and toilet tissue, kitchen towel and baby and feminine products help to improve our lives through convenience and hygiene.

2.         It’s renewable

In South Africa, paper is produced from farmed trees. Some 600 million trees are grown over 762,000 hectares for the very purpose of making pulp and paper.

“If it wasn’t for commercially grown trees, our indigenous forests would have been eradicated years ago to meet our fibre, fuel and furniture needs,” explains PAMSA executive director Jane Molony. “Sustainable, commercial forests have a vital role to play in curbing deforestation and mitigating climate change.”

As with most agricultural crops, trees are planted in rotation. Once mature – after seven to 11 years, they are harvested. However, only 9% of the total plantation area is felled annually. New saplings are planted in the same year, at an average rate of  260,000 new trees per day, or one-and-a-half saplings per harvested tree. This is what makes the paper we source from wood renewable.

3.         It’s recyclable

Recovered paper – the paper and cardboard from our recycling bins – is a valuable raw material and South Africa has been using it as an alternative fibre in papermaking since 1920.

Given that land suitable for the commercial growing of trees is limited, virgin fibre is supplemented with recovered paper. On the other hand, an injection of virgin fibre is also needed in the papermaking process because paper fibres shorten and weaken each time they are recycled.

In 2016, 68.4% of recoverable paper was recycled – recoverable paper excludes the likes of books and archived records, and items that are contaminated or destroyed when used, like tissue hygiene products and cigarette paper.

South Africa’s paper recovery rate has increased by 2% year on year, and is well above the global average of 58% (2015).

4.         It’s good for the environment

Working forests provide clean air, clean water and the managed conservation of wetlands, grasslands and biodiversity.

Farmed trees are efficient carbon sinks. Every year, South Africa’s commercial forests are estimated to capture 20 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, in turn releasing 15 million tonnes of life-giving oxygen…. Memory jog back to that primary school science lesson on photosynthesis.

The carbon remains locked up even after the wood is chipped, pulped and made into the many items we use every day. This is a good reason to recycle as it keeps this carbon locked up for even longer. Sent to landfill, paper will naturally degrade along with wet waste and add to unnecessary emissions.

Recycling is a space saver too: one tonne of paper saves three cubic metres of landfill space – and the associated costs. The 1.4 million tonnes of recyclable paper and paper packaging diverted from landfill in 2016. This is the equivalent to the weight of 280,000 African elephants. The same volume would cover 254 soccer fields or fill 1,680 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

The South African pulp and paper industry avoids 1,3 million tonnes of carbon emissions from fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) through the use of renewable biomass-based energy. Emissions are also offset by the trees grown for papermaking.

5.         It’s good for the economy

Not only does pulp and paper production add around R3.8 billion to the South African economy annually, the growing and harvesting of trees, the making of paper products and recycling them provides sustainable jobs for thousands of people.

Let’s not forget the jobs of engineers and researchers who design advanced technologies and processes that make pulping, papermaking and paper recycling more energy and water-efficient, and the artisans and operators that keep paper production moving.

Add to this the downstream value chains which rely on paper to produce their products, including printing and publishing, media, marketing and advertising, and the myriad sectors which use paper-based packaging to protect their goods during transit.

“Any which way you look at it, paper, tissue and paper-based packaging are essential, and this is a good thing – for our economy and for our environment,” says Molony. “Invented some 2,000 years ago, paper is one of the oldest ‘technologies’ with research, development and innovation continuing the world over to make more efficient use of trees, recycled paper, water and energy. Paper is a great story.”

DIY homework caddies

Professional organiser Harmony Seiter has provided a step-by-step guide to creating an at-home homework station.

A homework caddy is great for small spaces, multi-purpose spaces, and for kids who love to do their homework on the floor or away from a desk or table.

• Find a caddy or a tray you like.
o You can find caddies of all shapes and sizes in many sections of a retailer (such as baby, bathroom, kitchen)
o You may need to add other containers to separate supplies

Watch the video here.

• Your needs will vary depending on the age of your kids.
o Primary grades may need crayons, scissors, glue sticks, pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, colored pencils, a ruler, tape, paper, and possibly subject folders.
o Middle schoolers and high schoolers may need a calculator, pens, pencils, highlighters, pencil sharpener, erasers, stapler or paper clips, paper, glue sticks, loose leaf paper, sticky notes, tape, and subject folders.

• Place your homework caddy in an easy to reach spot for your student. It’s easily mobile, but make sure it`s brought to the same spot at the end of the day so homework time is always easy to manage. In many homes such as the Perth 2 storey homes, the workstation comes inbuilt. These homes are designed in a way that they grab the attention of a passerby at the same time also give you the assurance of security and the personal workspace design inside the house will help you do all your office work at home easily without any problem.

The homes of the new age all have special places inside the rooms where people can do their office or even school work without any disturbance. The lighting in these rooms is attached in a manner that they don’t hark the human eye and thus allow you to do more work without any worry.

Whether you keep it in your dedicated office or your kitchen pantry, a homework station will give your student all the tools she needs to successfully finish the day’s assignments.



The ultimate hobby machine

Say goodbye to unnecessary cords and create more space to work on your projects with the ultimate DIY machine from Cricut. The machine is hailed as all you need for craft hobbies like scrapbooking. The machine retails at approximately $300 (R3 800).

There are so many ways you can create with Cricut Explore Air. Design with the 50 000 images, projects, and fonts in the Cricut Image Library, or upload your own images and fonts for free.

Make party invitations, decorations and favours. Create seasonal home décor or personalise wedding gifts. Add embellishments to your favorite photo memories.

Cut what you want
Upload and cut your own images and fonts free; works with .svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, and .dxf files
Cut or write fonts already installed on your computer
Buy images starting at $0.99

Design and cut with the iPad app
Design here, there, and everywhere! Cricut Design Space app for iPad works seamlessly with the Cricut Explore Air machine. Design on your iPad and send the project to cut, wirelessly. The free, easy-to-use Cricut Design Space software system gives you access to all of your images and projects from any compatible computer or iPad. It’s cloud-based, so your projects are always synced across all your devices.

What can I make?
Make all your birthday and party invitations, banners, decorations, and favors. Create distinctive seasonal home décor or personalise DIY wedding gifts with a quick monogram for that perfect touch. Add embellishments to your favorite photo memories. And give Family Game Night the ultimate make-over with fresh and fun games month after month. Don’t forget those last-minute school science fair projects, book reports, or the ‘All About Me’ poster. Satisfy all your DIY crafting needs, whether you use the Cricut Explore Air as a vinyl cutter, die cut machine, or fabric cutting machine.

What can I cut?
The Cricut Explore Air cuts a wide variety of materials, including paper, cardstock, vinyl, iron-on, poster board and fabric for DIY projects. Upload your own images or choose from the Cricut Image Library – the only limit is your imagination.

No settings required
Forget the complicated materials settings. Now you can get the perfect cut on nearly any material, just turn the Smart Set dial. You can even create custom settings for different materials.

Clean cuts, big or small
The Cricut Explore Air features patent-pending Cut Smart technology. Cut all sorts of shapes with exceptional precision in sizes ranging from ¼ to 11½ inch wide x 23½ inches tall.

Cut and write in just one step
The Cricut Explore Air machine can cut a card and then write a personalised message exactly where you want. It can also cut a box and score the fold lines in one step.

Art by eraser

Artist Milind Nayak is presenting his graphite-on-paper for the first time at the Modernists of Bangalore exhibition, currently on at Art Houz.

He thinks the black-and-whites are hard to sell. But he makes art for himself, not for others. So it doesn’t matter to him if not many like his works.

“I always used to draw, bind the sheets and keep the books,” he says, talking of his love for art. “These works are independent of colour. They are my biggest treasure.”

Only recently did he feel it was time to show some of the display he had made in 2008.

Nayak has worked with graphite sticks and an eraser. “Graphite is the purest form of carbon. It has got a sheen that other materials don’t. I got addicted to it,” he says.
But he has created these pieces using the eraser more than graphite.

He adds, “I draw first, and then begin working with the eraser until I get what I want.”

Nayak is inspired by nature. The vivid hues in his work speak of his audacious flirtation with the colour palette and the enjoyment he derives from it.

He constantly tries to reinvent his technique, and has experimented with different media, like watercolour, oil, oil pastels, graphite, photography and digital printing.

He says he has been in and out of the art movement. He took a break between 1983 and 1999.

“I quit to support my family,” he says. “I did photography. I learnt a lot from the process. I am not into the ideological format. I stand alone, paint alone. I was going bald. So I thought it was time to come back.”

Nayak is among the few artists across the world who have seriously explored oil pastels as a medium. One of his most cherished experiences is working with a palette knife.
The artist explains that the elusiveness, force and intimacy that entail ‘painting’ with a knife are unlike those of working with a brush.

In such works, Nayak tried to move away from formal representation and step closer to abstraction. He did not, however, dispense entirely with the formal structure.

He says, “The knife technique evolved with the need to remove colour. I used it for erasing. It creates more tones and adds grace.”

Nayak likes to live and paint dangerously. “You can’t be static throughout life. You need to evolve,” he says.

Nayak was born in Udupi in 1954, and is a self-taught artist. Over the last 15 years, he has established himself firmly on the country’s visual art scene.

He says the only artist who has impressed him is his mentor G S Shenoy.

“He taught me that to become a good artist, you need to be a good human first,” he says. “I owe all my works to him. We were good friends even though I was 16 years his junior. When I took a break, he was very angry with me.”

He has had over 35 solo exhibitions, including three in USA. He has also participated in several group exhibitions in India and abroad.

By Akhila Damodaran for

The Japanese are inventors at heart. Below are some of the useful items of stationery they have invented over the years.

Waterproof memo pads

According to researchers, this paper is so strong that even when wet it won’t rip when you touch it. If you use a waterproof pen, the ink won’t run, and you can even write on it using a pencil while it’s underwater. You can use it while you’re at waterfront spots like beaches or even daily in the kitchen near a sink, but it’s also priceless during times of disaster.

Static electricity sticky board

This static board allow you to easily clean your desk by sorting through and posting your most important notes.

Erasable pen

This pen uses a special ink that gets erased using the frictional heat between the paper and the rubber eraser. It erases so completely the paper looks like you’ve painted it white. Another one if its special points is that the eraser doesn’t shed.

Staple-less stapler

According to the original paper factory that created it, you can use this stapler to bind papers together without using staples. Because of that, it can be used safely by children and it’s also ecologically friendly because it doesn’t require staples to be made.

Personal information stamp

There are many documents that have personal information on them that most people don’t want anyone else to see. If you shred them one by one your information is secure but the garbage piles up and it also takes a lot of time. Instead of that, this roller stamp will come in handy. The design printed on the stamp will completely mask any personal information you use it on.

Utility tape that doesn’t use glue

This tape was developed to make use of its special construction. Both sides of the tape will stick to itself but not to anything else. It’s something you can use in all facets of your everyday life.

Castanet scissors

With these scissors, you just have to lightly grip the wooden part in order to cut. Elderly people with weak grip strength can use it, and since the blades are covered, children can safely use them too. It can be used to cut out detailed designs. Though it’s surreal that the sound of castanets rings through the room every time you make a cut, that is also a very Japanese design experience.

Two-twist pencil sharpener

This pencil sharpener is made to sharpen the pencil once you turn it left and right. Since it’s not necessary to rotate it either, you also don’t have to keep taking the pencil out to check its sharpness.

Super-thin labels

As you can see, these labels are so thin you can use them in the smallest of spaces without hesitation. Since they are also made of semi-translucent paper, you can use them on top of text in order to highlight it will still being able to read it.

Stand-alone pencil case

Everyone has had the experience of being unable to find the pen, eraser, ruler, etc. that they need in the middle of all the stuff they have in their pencil case. With this pencil case, sa you can see it stands up and makes it very easy to find what you need when you need it.


Maria de Los Angeles, an artist from the United States, has created a number of dresses from paper. The dresses serve as a medium to speak about the history of colonialism, migration and those without a home.

What is this dress?
I made it out of paper. I call it “the family dress” — on the front is a portrait of me with my nieces. The idea was for the dress to look European, but also speak to the history of colonialism. It’s about migration and being ungrounded. I have another dress that I wore to the fashion exhibit at the Met that had phrases on it like DEPORT ME and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). I’ve been making dresses like this for the past two months for a show I’m having in June at Front Art Space. I was thinking that art, when it looks political, people don’t want to engage with it. But a beautiful dress? I’m curious if a dress can make people engage.

“The idea was for the dress to look European, but also speak to the history of colonialism.”
~ Maria de Los Angeles, artist

artist paper dress 1

Where are you from?
I was born in Michoacán, which is in the south of Mexico. I’m the oldest of eight, and my siblings and I were smuggled across the border in a van when I was 11 — they pretended we were someone else’s kids, and we were given Tylenol so we’d be asleep during the border crossing. We were brought to Los Angeles, to our aunt’s apartment with these brown rugs, and our first meal was pineapple pizza, which I hated. Something about the sweet pineapple with the tomatoes. I remember thinking it was just wrong.

By Alexis Swerdloff for
Photo credits: Bobby Doherty

Handwritten notes: remember them? Such communication may have taken a digital drubbing but there are still some of us out there – and you know who you are – who get excited about stationery, whether it’s a worn leather notebook, a clean sheet of recycled paper or a set of sharp-pointed pencils.

And these people will no doubt be happy to know their fancy is being catered to by Printer & Co, which has opened its first pop-up shop, in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.

Printer & Co is all about reviving the art of traditional writing – and the decorum that accompanied it. The store features two open spaces: one focusing on paper and art and craft supplies; the other filled with signature collections – handcrafted notecards, journals, gift tags and the like – including those for children and “his and her” sets.

Furthermore, the company is spreading the word with a series of workshops on the long-lost arts of handwriting, calligraphy and composing thank-you notes.

“As the quest for productivity demands an increasingly rapid pace of life, we cannot help feeling nostalgia for bygone, slow-living days when the handwritten note was a faithfully observed part of social life,” the company says.

The company is offering in-store workshops on calligraphy, writing thank you notes and word mosaics.

“This collaboration goes beyond a shopping experience. We are bringing our philosophy of slow living, authentic connection and mindful consumption to life through a series of workshops inviting local calligraphers, certified play therapists and leading creative writers,” the company says. “We hope to revive the sense of well-being in each and every person in touch with Printer & Co.”

By Kylie Knott for

Ask a Japanese person what mizuhiki is, and you’ll get responses referring to the intricately twisted cord decoration found on traditional, celebratory gift-envelopes found in Japan.

That answer isn’t wrong, since the cords are the most commonly seen form of this unique style of art, but mizuhiki is certainly far more than that.

Mizuhiki is an old, traditional art form first introduced to Japan from Sui dynasty China during the Asuka era (550-710 A.D.), and is used for far more than making decorative cords for envelopes. The works of art made today using the historic method of tightly wound, starched, and colored rice paper are nothing short of gorgeous.

Hiromi Nagasawa, who was originally a graphic artist from Tokyo, is now making original mizuhiki for wedding and engagement gifts, and has her own store in Fukuoka Prefecture. Her works have rightly gained a lot of attention for their intricacy and sheer beauty.

While these pieces don’t quite hold the same importance in ceremonial gift-giving as they once did, they are still highly valued works of art.

By Meg Murphy for

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