By Osman Ahmed for i-D
The Italian fashion house has officially launched a lifestyle collection of stationery and objects, and it’s just as whimsical as you’d imagine.
Oh, the joys of shopping for stationery ahead of that back-to-school feeling in September. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, returning to office or looking to freshen your WFH set-up, there’s nothing quite like the nostalgic feeling of amassing crisp notebooks and sharp pencils for the year ahead. Now, you can buy your stationery supplies at Gucci. The Italian house’s creative director Alessandro Michele is bringing his whimsical touch to the most mundane objects: pencils, pens, and notebooks, just in time for the first term of school (and for the Milan Design Week).
Opening a temporary store in Milan, ‘Gucci Cartoleria’ (Italian for stationery) will be an Aladdin’s Cave for visitors, who will stumble across ‘flying’ notebooks, chess sets that play themselves, ‘haunted’ items, endless bookcases, micro-apartments for mice with Gucci furnishings. It marks the Italian house’s first ‘lifestyle’ collection — although, this being the weird-and-wonderful world of Gucci, it’s not what you would imagine.
It marks a continued trend seen across the industry for fashion houses designing objects that are far from clothes or accessories, and made with the idea of a branded ‘lifestyle’ in mind — think of Chanel’s surfboards, Saint Laurent’s condoms, Prada’s cutlery, Maison Margiela’s egg boxes, and Loewe’s candles. Now, Gucci has staked its claim on pens and pencils and writing-paper, brought to life by the surreal campaign images by Max Siedentopf.
“When I was a child, going to the stationery store and finding pencils, pens, and notebooks .. meant bringing a dream into my daily routine,” said Alessandro Michele. “They were fine, well-made objects that spoke of craftsmanship and that, though part of my everyday life, were able to give off a magical, mysterious and wonderful aura.” He adds that he imagined the dedicated Milan boutique as a small cabinet of curiosities, a “Wunderkammer like the cave of Ali Baba” that could bring a fairy tale dimension to the most ordinary of objects. “[It] is a sort of consecration, a tribute that was right for me to pay,” he added. “I could have included them in the collections long ago, but they were not strictly related to clothing and accessories. That’s why I wanted to build a whimsical space where they could be laid out, to restore to everyday life that sense of wonder that makes them so dear to me.”
So, what can you find in the collection? Notebooks come in printed canvas (with a choice of monograms, flora-and-fauna, even Donald Duck), as well as hand-made boxes of graphite pencils, pens, glass-domed paperweights, tasselled fans for balmy days, leather pencil cases, as well as briefcases of backgammon and poker sets and travelling sets with sleeping masks, slippers, and pillows. Everything comes with Gucci’s distinct branding (good news for logomaniacs) and much of the materials are Gucci’s ‘Demetra™’ textile, developed by the house’s own technicians and artisans, who created used it with the same process for tanning with animal-free raw materials that are from renewable and plant-based sources.
If you’re in Milan, the store at Via Manzoni 19 will be open throughout Milan Design Week, until 17 September. For the rest of the world, it hits selected Gucci boutiques and its online store on the 10 September.