By Conrad Onyango for How We Made It In Africa

Africa’s increasing population of school-going children, together with millions joining the job market every year, is significantly growing the demand for writing materials and other forms of stationery – creating a multi-billion-dollar opportunity.

By 2050, Africa’s total population is projected to reach 2.5-billion. Half of this population will be aged below 25 years of age, according to United Nations projections – and of that 50% of the population, a large percentage will be in different levels of education or just starting out in the job market.

That is set to create a huge demand for stationery goods on the continent, which will affect world markets, according to a report.

The Africa Stationery Market report by market information advisory, 6Wresearch, projects that the continent’s stationery consumption will reach a value of over $5-billion by 2027.

According to the report, the fast-growing education sector in Africa as well as upscale commercial sector investment will push up demand for writing materials – cut paper, writing implements, envelopes, continuous form paper – and other office supplies like printers and computers.

Education though represents 60% of overall sector demand in Africa and, though the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed demand with schools being forced to close, the report believes the sector will rebound by the end of this year.

In 2018, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) put primary school enrolment in Africa at over 80%, with this number expected to escalate in the race to achieve education for all by 2030. Kenya, for instance, is ramping up efforts to ensure 100% transition rates from primary to secondary schools.

The Africa Stationery Market report also shows that the rise in commercial office spaces will drive demand for the wide stationery basket that also contains markers, staplers, sticky notes, highlighters and sticky tapes.

The spiralling demand for paper-based stationery is also set to offer brisk business for Africa’s paper-producing markets.

South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Kenya, Algeria and Morocco are among key players in this segment. Countries like Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Ghana, though small producers, also stand to gain through increased production capacities of their mills.

 

21 May is Stationery Shop Saturday

By Tercia Goh for Zafigo

Here are 11 beautiful boutique stationery shops around the world!

You can learn a lot about a city from the stationery stores you visit – from the local artists whose sketches and paintings adorn cards and stickers to the handmade inks, illustrated totes, and leather handmade pencil cases. Most local stationery stores take great pride in not only sourcing popular brands from around the globe, but they also shine a spotlight on local makers, such as those creating custom stickers, custom made coins, custom enamel pins, and the like; providing customers with more unique and personalised products. It also makes shopping for souvenirs a little more interesting than the usual fridge magnets.

You don’t need to be an artist or keep a diary to appreciate a boutique stationery store. Let me first say that stationery shops are no longer a one-stop shop for your regular office and school supplies. There has been a shift in consumer needs, beyond just Sharpies and paper clips. Perhaps in a bid to balance the digital and analogue world, an increasing number of people have started to pen down thoughts versus thumbing their phone screens. Now even more so with all the alone time brought about by lockdowns.

It’s perhaps in this new refuge of ‘slowing down’ and picking up a new hobby that speciality stationery stores have started popping up around the world, offering a wealth of inspiration, from handmade paper, letterpress cards, decorative sticky tapes, customisable notebooks to 18-karat gold fountain pen nibs. Like an artisanal tube almond-scented glue, the list rolls on. Even generational stationery stores are now experiencing a new wave of craft-obsessed scrapbookers, journalling enthusiasts, and antique stationery collectors who are seeking something a little more unique, and are prepared to spend generously for a conversational piece.

Here’s my top 10 list of stationery stores that I’ve personally visited around the world! I hope it’ll inject some romanticism into your love for stationery. Or at the very least, invoke the curiosity to pick up a pen and send a postal letter to a friend.

1. Choosing Keeping, London

Perched right at the edge of trendy Tower Street in Seven Dials, sits this gem of a store that’ll leave you wanting more! The clear windows will offer you a peek into a dreamy world of gorgeous stationery, displayed beautifully within the warmth of wooden flooring and exposed bricked walls. Passers-by tend to slow down and take pause as they walk by the beautifully-merchandised windows filled with paper art, colourful pens, and handmade ceramic cups. Perhaps it’s called Choosing Keeping because try as you may to choose a few items, you’ll end up wanting to keep everything.

2. L’écritoire Paris, Paris

This place is one of the longest-standing stationery stores in the city of love and has become an institution in itself amongst Parisians and tourists alike. The shop’s been run by Sofie since 1975, and when it was opened, it was called L’Ecritoire – “The Parisian stationery store.” However, the name is somewhat misleading, because it’s so much more than just shop – it’s a homage to heritage, timeless craftsmanship, and handmade creations.

Many of their items are made by master French craftsmen. Expect the inkwell to be slightly crooked, the nib holders to be a little tarnished, and handmade paper to be slightly frayed and deckled, but behind these doors, affection is prized over perfection.

3. CforCalligraphy, Jakarta

One might easily miss this little store in the sprawled out and dusty roads of a city known for its unforgiving traffic. It took me about 40 minutes to get to this gorgeous little shop, an oasis and respite within the cluttered structures around it. Upon entering the beautiful exterior of a hand-lettered storefront – a stark contrast from the metal shutters of its neighbours – you’ll be greeted by soothing tunes, dried flowers hanging from the ceiling, and a buffet of rubber stamps, inks, and nib holders all lined up for the picking! Aside from providing all the supplies one would need for the intricate art of calligraphy, they host workshops – often flying in artists from greater Asia and beyond – who are masters of their crafts.

4. Salt x Paper, Kota Kinabalu

An unexpected delight in the tropical paradise of Sabah’s capital, Kota Kinabalu, or as I like to call it – the Hawaii of Malaysia! The store’s name is probably inspired by the ocean, where its close enough to smell the salt in the air. Tucked within a row of mom-and-pop stores, this quaint shop will have you retracing your footsteps thrice over in fear of missing out on camouflaged goodies amongst the plethora of stickers, rubber stamps, globes, notebooks, and cards. You name it, they probably have it in every single colour and then some! This is a great gift shop too, with novelty items and locally-crafted decorative pieces. There’s truly something for everybody here.

5. Melodies Graphiques & Ecritures Papiers, Paris

If Versailles had a stationery store in the 18th century, this would be it. This is a place for those who like to write by hand, and for those who appreciate forgotten objects and elevated desk accessories – think elaborately engraved brass pen trays.

This is not a place of needs, but a place of wants. You’ll notice rows of antique ink bottles proudly displayed on the top of shelves, a reflection of the owner’s personal collection. Try as you may, but you won’t be able to leave this store without feeling visually seduced by the luxurious and opulent feathered pens, textured papers, and everything in between celebrating French culture and craftsmanship. “Draw me with one of your French pens…” *fans self*

6. Zetta Florence, Melbourne

A charming family-run stationery wonderland from the Land Down Under. Imagine high ceilings in a heritage building on the trendy and artistic street of Brunswick where good coffee flows aplenty. Zetta Florence will draw you in with her dressage of Italian posters, photo albums, archival boxes, illustrated notebook covers, and rolls upon rolls of colourful yarn.

Whether you’re a hardcore DIY crafter or a noob seeking a new hobby, this place will scratch your creative and curious itch. If you’re lucky, you can even catch one of their bookbinding workshops. And since you’re in the neighbourhood, make a day out of it and explore other small independent businesses like Kami Paper just next door (home to speciality paper experts and personalised journals to capture your passions).

7. Scriptum, Oxford

Take a step back in time and get lost in the endless wonderment of Scriptum in the charming town of Oxford. You’ll have to wander through cobbled stone lanes before you’re greeted by objects of curiosities such as oversized magnifying glasses, marbled globes, nautical compasses, and lion head bookends. This isn’t your typical stationery store. Upon entering, you’ll be greeted in true Oxford style – with classical music and Azeem, the gentleman owner, who’s always dressed to impress. And just when you feel that it’s all too much with the sensory overload, you’ll discover more upstairs.

Double the levels, double the happiness! It’s floor-to-ceiling of endless discovery. Blink and you might miss something. Scriptum, much like the majestic timeless architecture surrounding it, is keeping alive the traditions of journalling and writing through its beautifully-curated selections of analogue pieces. We’re sure that you won’t leave here empty-handed, but you may very well leave with empty pockets.

8. Stickeriffic, Kuala Lumpur (KL)

Ask any stationery enthusiast visiting KL, from near or far, and their eyes will light up when you mention Stickeriffic. This is where the local community of creatives congregate, huddle, shop and socialise. Not too bothered with stocking mainstream, popular brands, you’ll find a wide variety of stationery staples that’ll suit your scrapbooking, bullet journalling, painting, sketching, calligraphy, and crafting needs.

This is where the boyfriends come to buy their lady a special notebook or anniversary gift. A place of thoughtful and purposeful objects that’ll bring its user endless joy from creating. The cats here have become an attraction too, as the store’s ‘paw keepers’ are often seen sitting atop the tables or sunning by the window. So sit back, order a cup of coffee, whip out a book, or journal. This is where time slows down.

9. BomoArt, Budapest

Established in 2000, BomoArt has garnered a cult following amongst creatives from around the world, and it’s not difficult to see why. Best known for their speciality prints, paper quality, and leather-bound journals that use traditional book-binding techniques, you’ll find BomoArt’s pocket-sized shops peppered around Budapest.

They stock a wide variety of their own vintage-inspired designs, making them truly unique. And beyond selling branded stationery from other cult brands, BomoArt designs and produces their own collection of items, from maps, photo albums, bookmarks, and accordion folders to art boxes and kaleidoscope. You won’t find their products mass-produced and stocked in many other stationery stores – at the very most, just a handful.

If customisation is something you appreciate, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can customise a notebook from the colour of the leather-bound to the design print of the book and embossing of words or initials. With all the options available, expect to be spoiled for choice!

10. Il Papiro, Venice

I first stumbled upon this store by pure chance. This is where you will find precious pieces of Venetian Murano glass pens, produced in the Venetian island of Murano since the 13th century. This material’s also artistically made into ink wells and wax seal handles. Aside from that, you’ll find famous Italian marbled paper, Amalfi and Florentine paper (sought-after Italian handmade paper), as well as premium leather-bound journals.

They have shops all over the country, from Rome to Florence and Siena. You can even visit them in major cities around the world, like London and Melbourne. What one can acquire overseas due to their popularity, though, can’t compare to the actual experience of walking into an ‘original’ Il Papiro store in Italy. The store just exudes a timeless beauty that has to be felt in person.

11. Traveler’s Company, Tokyo

Every journaller would know the famous Traveler’s Notebook from Japan. The brand pioneered the TN journal notebook, a beautiful collection of leather cover notebooks with interchangeable notebook inserts, amongst many other popular brass tools and retro items. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the brand, you won’t regret making your way to one of their stores.

They have a few around Tokyo, but if you’re tight for time, you can visit the outlet in Terminal 3 of Narita Airport. There are regular busses that go between all three terminals, and if you’re lucky, you’ll score some limited-edition pieces that are so coveted, they often sell out online and in the main stores around the city. Here, you’ll be able to do some last-minute shopping and squeeze your haul into whatever space is left in your hand carry!

 

20 May is Fountain Pen Friday

A fountain pen is a type of pen that delivers water-based liquid ink through a nib. The ink flows from a reservoir through a “feed” to the nib, and then through it. The nib has no moving parts and delivers ink through a thin slit to the writing surface by means of gravity.
Fountain pen reservoirs can be refillable or disposable. A pen with a refillable reservoir uses a piston-like mechanism to draw ink from a bottle through the nib. Alternatively, it must be refilled with an eyedropper. Refill reservoirs, also known as cartridge converters, are available for some pens which use disposable ink cartridges.

Who invented the fountain pen?

  • Peregrin Williamson, a Baltimore shoemaker, received the first American patent for such a pen in 1809.
  • John Scheffer received a British patent in 1819 for a half-quill-half-metal pen that he attempted to mass manufacture.
  • John Jacob Parker patented the first self-filling fountain pen in 1831.

Ten facts about fountain pens:

  1. With a fountain pen, you can write upside-down. It may sound strange, but you can write in a very finely. The writing won’t be perfect (it will be scratchy), but it’s definitely possible. This is a cool trick to impress your stationery friends!
  2. The first records of a so-called fountain pen date back to around 950AD. The pen was created by request, as previous designs would leak over the user.
  3. Every fountain pen is unique! After using your fountain pen for a long time, the nib slowly personalises itself to your handwriting. The tip wears out exactly to your style, making it challenging to lend your pen out to other pen pals!
  4. This might come as a surprise, but left-handed people more often use fountain pens than right-handed people.
  5. Fountain pens come in all sizes, shapes, and colours; the largest dip pen ever produced measured over 7 feet and wrote surprisingly nicely on a gigantic piece of paper.
  6. More than 100-million fountain pens are sold annually. The biggest markets are China, India, Pakistan and the Middle East.
  7. In the last few decades, a fountain pen has shifted from a piece of necessary writing equipment to a luxury item. Even though people are using digital writing tools much more, the sales of ink pens have been on the rise for five consecutive years!
  8. Writing with a fountain pen reduces hand pain, cramps and hand fatigue. Because an ink pen writes more smoothly and flows over the paper, you have to use less pressure while writing. The pen writes by using its own weight, relieving your hand from doing the heavy work.
  9. When you give a unique fountain pen to someone, the first thing they will write is their own name. This is true for over 95% of the people!
  10. With a standard small ink cartridge, you can write around 2 500 words.

Source: Wooden Gifts and More 

 

19 May is Work Happy Day. From the first cup of coffee to the time you turn off your computer, you need to have a positive experience when working in the office – whether a home office or formal corporate office.

It is important how it is designed, what furniture you are using and what products you have available.

Small changes can recreate an environment

Source: Business Furniture Solutions

Most of us just want to get on with our core business, we want to catch up on lost time and hopefully regain our previous business momentum.
And while discussions around the hybrid office & remote working might apply to companies with large workforces and global policies, most of us need our team back around us…and maybe we need to make a couple of changes to encourage them back:

Softer spaces

After working from home, a softer more domestic feeling in the workplace could be key. Space to sit back & catch up, space to scheme & dream, and space to talk more privately – away from the gossips.

Focus nooks

Escaping from barking dogs, noisy kids and hooting delivery vans is another added benefit of getting back to the office.
Capitalise on that need and set aside areas where staff can focus in silence, avoiding work related distractions that now replace home noise.
Allocating existing meeting rooms or empty offices can work. Acoustic furniture is another option.

Places to meet

Now that we are all experts on Zoom calls, Microsoft teams and Google meet, we are finding it so much richer to engage face to face, relating to subtle nuances and body language again.
Places to meet and brainstorm, to problem solve and dream together might now need to include online discussions, and the need to share working documents.

 

18 May is World Stationery Day

World Stationery Day was created in 2012 to celebrate written media and to encourage people to take up theirs pens and spend time physically writing something.

Why not surprise a family member by sending them a handwritten note this May?

There are several fun ways people can celebrate World Stationery Day:

  • Visit your local stationery printers and support them
  • Handwritten letters, poems and greeting cards will surprise family and friends
  • Get some customised letterheads , journals, diaries or other items printed at your local printing company
  • From a business point of view, inform your clients and customers of the role that stationery plays in our lives

Writing is an art form; a fundamental aspect of communication.

Stationery deserves to maintain an active presence in people’s lives across South Africa.

Source: icsid.org

A good office environment involves good air quality, adequate lighting and low noise levels. Studies have consistently shown that physical office environments can substantially affect employees’ behaviour, perceptions and productivity. Furniture plays a large part in making an office more productive, so an uncomfortable chair can have detrimental effects. People with desk jobs spend most of their time sitting in their chairs, and a chair that is uncomfortable or not fit for purpose can result in lost productivity.

Purchasing comfortable chairs for the workplace can boost the productivity of yourself or your team. As an added benefit, ergonomic chairs can significantly improve posture, reduce back pain and improve employee productivity. In short, having an ergonomic chair at your desk is good for your body.

The longer you sit stationary in your chair during a work day, the greater your risk of chronic health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. It is also likely that too much sitting can depress your mental state. As the natural tendency for most people is to slouch,  spinal ligaments can be overstretched and strained, which may ultimately result in issues with your discs.

A good office chair can mitigate some of the issues associated with a sedentary desk job. When seated properly, a good chair helps reduce back pain, so you are less prone to abnormal strain on the body. This prevents poor posture, such as slouching. Your back and neck muscles benefit from having a good office chair: it relieves back pain, reduces hip strain, and strengthens the posture.

Find your perfect fit

Using an ergonomic office chair means a quick, comfortable adjustment of the seat so that the user fits into chair.

Look for a chair with:

  • Good spinal column supported
  • Mesh for breathability
  • Good cushioning
  • A high, supportive back
  • A simple design

It’s important to ensure you align your chair and your desk to your height. Be sure that your feet are flat on the ground and your knees are in a line (or lower) with your hips at the seat height. Do not sit back into the chair with your hips. If you are using a keyboard, be sure it is close to you and straight in front of you.

Stemming from BIC’s commitment to improve learning conditions for students worldwide, and its continued contribution to education in South Africa, the company conducted a nation-wide study which aimed to identify the key challenges and opportunities faced by educators in the country. The study aimed to collate challenges faced by teachers in South Africa to consequently provide solutions that would help them perform in the important role that they play in children’s lives, and to help contribute towards enhancing the education field in the country.

The study was conducted by BIC, in partnership with Big Mama’s Famous Truth Shop, a private research studies laboratory focused on human research techniques.

The study revealed three main findings that were consistent for teachers across South Africa:

  • Teachers play multiple roles in a child’s life.
  • Teachers in South Africa are hungry for higher quality curricula and thought-provoking content.
  • Teachers are expected to perform many additional duties that erode the time they could be dedicating to children, and they are quite simply overloaded.

Study findings at depth

The multi-role teacher:

Education is a fundamental driver of personal, national, and global development, making teachers arguably the greatest influencers in society. They give children purpose, set them up for success, and inspire in them a drive to do well and succeed in life.

According to the study conducted, good teachers are passionate about the children they teach, and describe fulfilment as being able to truly connect and unlock children’s diverse potential.

The study found that South African teachers all shared the same overwhelming sentiments of quite simply being overloaded and under-valued. They often play the role of social worker as well as fill up the gap created by parents. Insights revealed that parents are a source of pressure with their demands and expectations, while often leaving a void as they are too busy or ill-equipped to give their children the quality of attention they need today.

Lack of resources:

The study revealed that the gulf between “have and have not” kids is widening, and the pandemic has shone a spotlight on inequality and inefficiency in the state education system. The difference in resources, numbers of children per teacher, and even basic stationery needs in state schools is alarming. Semi-funded (Q5) schools also struggle with resources given the numbers they are expected to cope with.

The current state Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and educational resources, considered to be bland and uninspiring, is felt to deepen the divide further where teachers end up picking up the pressure of bringing it to life and building lessons with higher quality content, using classroom tools like posters and print media, to inspire and stimulate the minds of the children they teach.

The study found that teachers are hungry for higher quality, brighter and more engaging teaching tools and resources. They are self-taught content creators, who are persistent in overcoming the many challenges that they are faced with. They continuously seek out inspirational platforms with useful worksheets, inspiring videos, and ways of making their lessons more engaging and exciting.

Teaching in a pandemic:

The Covid-19 pandemic has added fuel to the pressure cooker in so many ways. Teachers are the unsung heroes of this time as many have worked right through lockdowns, adapting, learning new technologies and developing remote learning content. According to the study, lockdown has forced teachers to move to digital teaching methods overnight. The study also revealed that mobile data is still the biggest divide as it’s expensive in South Africa.

Teachers have shared the sentiment that online learning has been a huge challenge with schools being behind technologically which resulted in a lack of preparation for the ‘new situation’. Teachers have had to get far more creative, and the need to keep up the marks, despite the massive data and technological divide, was a major source of stress. For the most part, teachers were following the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) but adding to it to ensure efficient and creative learning techniques.

Teachers faced challenges when returning to schools, where they have had to deal with the challenges of teaching and policing social distancing and other hygiene protocols at the same time as alleviating learner’s anxiety.

According to the study, going back to school after the lockdown has resulted in stress amongst children due to all the rules and fears associated with the COVID-19 virus. They will be obliged to wear masks, and no one can touch or hug. It will take kids a long time before they get out of their shell and get their personalities back amidst huge groups of people.

The study also revealed positive findings, as the pandemic and lockdown has allowed teachers to work together more than ever before. This was mostly a result of accelerated personal growth and skills development. Similarly, the smaller classroom sizes allowed for more individual attention.

The solution

To help address some of the teachers’ needs identified in the study, BIC has launched a BIC Stationery Teachers Group on Facebook, which is accessible to all teachers and educators across South Africa, where they will be able to communicate, ideate, share experiences and best practices, as well as exchange tools and resources.

Commenting on the occasion, Kutlwano Tshetlhane, Marketing Manager for BIC Stationery, Southern Africa, said: “We are ecstatic about offering the new platform, BIC® Stationery Teachers Group, to help teachers across the country to start their journey towards more efficient and innovative teaching techniques, learning from and supporting one another. As a brand that is committed to improving education in communities we operate in, we are proud to support teachers across South Africa through a platform that would provide them with the tools and the inspiration they need to help build the future’s generation.”

Expressing her delight, Wendy Cochrane, Big Mama’s founder, said: “Our mission for the study was to understand teachers’ diverse perspectives on challenges in a post-covid education system, and to identify opportunities where BIC can offer solutions. The need for high quality, locally relevant content and teaching materials for South African teachers is clear, highlighting the inequality gap between state and private schools that have more access to internet-based resources. This research helped generate ideas for the development of a practical and exciting digital resources platform that bridges these divides.”

BIC has always been a dominant player in supporting the youth and contributing towards the education field in communities it operates in. Education is part of BIC’s DNA and the company has long advocated for and worked to improve lives through education. Through BIC’s initiative, ‘Writing the Future Together’, the company is committed to supporting communities and improving the learning conditions of 250 million children globally by 2025. To date, BIC South Africa has played an instrumental role in the classroom and beyond, with its range of stationery products, including crayons and other coloring tools, Tipp-Ex, highlighters, pencils and pens of all descriptions.

Teachers are invited to take another step in the ongoing journey of elevating education and improving learning conditions for students in South Africa by joining the community here.

Calling all exhibitors:

shop-sa, in conjunction with My Office, will be hosting a digital trade show on Wednesday 11 August 2021.

The 105-year-old association of the stationery and home office products industry is hosting a virtual trade show to provide both association members and members of the public with a platform for brand exposure during these trying times.

What is a virtual trade show and how will it work?

In these unprecedented times, a traditional trade show is not possible. This online event will allow exhibitors to showcase their products and services in many different ways, in one online space.

The expo can be viewed using any device from mobile phone to computer, from virtual stalls to live presentations.

  • A pinned post will remain on the top of the news page on the My Office Magazine website, and will be updated with information on exhibitors up to the day of the event.
  • Logos, brochures and links of participating exhibitors will be displayed on the website.
  • Participating exhibitors will select an available time slot to host a live presentation.
  • Workshops will be advertised prior to event.
  • Visitors will contact exhibitor to book “seats”.
  • The exhibitor will send links to visitors prior to live presentation.
  • These videos will be hosted on YouTube or the exhibitor’s own website.

Links and advertising for the trade show will be sent to a database of 20 000 end-users and consumers on a regular basis, but any member of the public will be allowed to view the videos and brochures during and after the show.

The expo will also be marketed on various social media platforms to create awareness leading up to the event.

Sign up to be an exhibitor today! You too can become a member of shop-sa from as little as R855 ex VAT per annum – and access our exclusive member pricing.

Exhibitor packages

Lite package 
Member pricing: R1 000 ex VAT / R1 150 incl VAT
Non-member pricing: R1 500 ex VAT /  R1 725 incl VAT

Introduce yourself: who you are and what you do
Flyer/brochure
1 short video (5 minutes or less)

Basic package
Member pricing: R1 500 ex VAT / R1 725 incl VAT
Non-member pricing: R2 000 ex VAT / R2 300 incl VAT

Introduce yourself: who you are and what you do
Flyer/brochure
Up to 3 videos

Pro package
Member pricing: R5 000 ex VAT / R5 750 incl VAT
Non-member pricing: R7 000 ex VAT / R8 050 incl VAT

Introduce yourself: who you are and what you do
Flyer/brochure
Up to 10 videos or brochure links
The option to host a live Zoom workshop/talk/demo
Additional promotion and spotlight features on mailers sent before the event

Call for prizes

Put your brand front and centre!

A number of competitions will be run during the course of, and after, the event. All donated prizes will be listed with your company’s name or logo visible.

For more information, please contact Wendy on (012) 548 0046, 082 963 7441 or wendy@shop-sa.co.za.

By Michelle Woo for Lifehacker

Just because ‘there’s an app for that’ doesn’t mean you have to use it. This week we’re going analog, reminding ourselves that we can live—and live well —without smartphones, and seeing what’s worth preserving from the time before we were all plugged in 24/7.

My husband works with steam process equipment and often brings home these big catalogues of products. Only one person in our home has ever had any interest in what was inside (that person would be him)—until we had a kid. Our daughter gets excited whenever she sees “Daddy’s work books”, asking to have the ones he no longer needs so she can circle various items as if she were a real buyer.

Wait, why do we buy toys again?

Hearing from other parents, I learned that little kids love “grownup” work stuff, especially if it lets them pretend to be on the job. You might have some of these items, or you can buy most of them at office supply stores for cheap

Guest checks
Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo writes that guest checks, like the ones restaurant servers use, have been a huge hit with her son: “Toby got these for Christmas and has played with them one million times since then. He’s always taking our orders for elaborate breakfasts, dinners and desserts.”

Prescription pads
Kids like playing doctor, so let them write prescriptions on a legit prescription pad. Just know that they’ll probably write themselves a prescription for three scoops of ice cream and that new Toy Story 4 Lego set. Don’t fall for it.

Lanyard badges
Piriya, a member of the Offspring Facebook group, writes: “Both kids love our old ID lanyards from work. Bonus if the lanyards have the retractable badge holders on them.”

Date stamp
They can play librarian or mark the date on their artwork.

Old business cards
Don’t toss business cards after you’ve digitized the info. My kid used to love putting the cards in her wallet. Same with old hotel key cards, which she calls her “credit cards.”

Tickets
Kids love all types of tickets—carnival style, tear-away stubs, or the ones that come in those take-a-number dispensers. My daughter has created ticketing systems for all of her living room singing performances and storytelling sets. Everyone needs a ticket.

Envelopes
These office envelopes help make kids’ letters feel much more official.

By Sydney Luntz for The Guardian

During National Stationery Week earlier this month, Neal Whittington, the founder of the cult London stationery shop Present & Correct, went on an online quest to find images of oversized art related to pens, pencils and erasers in the style of the artist Claes Oldenburg.

Rather than just finding images of sculptures, he discovered public furniture inspired by office equipment: paperclip bike racks in Washington DC, a keyboard seating area in Russia, an eraser bench in Prague. “I like that these everyday objects have been blown up, but the form hasn’t changed and they obtain entirely new functions,” he says.

“They’re eye-catching, they’re humorous: they make your day-to-day a little bit more enjoyable.”

See all the art here

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