Perfectly Noted: Fabriano Boutique Is Bringing Back The Charm Of Handwritten Letters
Even though the origin of paper can be attributed to the Chinese and Arabs, it was in 1264 that it was given a lasting impression. In the small town of Fabriano in central Italy, artisans were stuck in a financial crisis with an oversupply of textiles. After learning about how other civilisations were making paper out of rice or wood from birch, the artisans decided to mix their textiles into the pulp. This gave the paper a new lease of life. The acclaim of this paper’s quality was so widespread that masters of the arts such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Beethoven began to use it.
Today, apart from crafting paper, Fabriano’s carrying on their 750-year-old luxury with Fabriano Boutique, a creatively imaginative stationery store. They have recently ventured into India with their first store functioning out of Mumbai’s High Street Phoenix. We sit down with Claudio Dall’era, COO of Fabriano Boutique and Dilip Doshi, CEO of the Ambiar Group, the men behind this collaborative effort. They tell us what the brand stands for and the value stationery holds in today’s virtual world.
Excerpts from an interview with Claudio Dall’era (CD) and Dilip Doshi (DD)…
“In 2012, Fabriano Boutique was some kind of test, to showcase the imaginative creativity of our paper…but we’ve tried to make it a lifestyle.”
CD: It’s not only about the paper or the leather goods being made in Italy, but it’s a way of life. We’re trying to address the needs of all those people who are looking for quality, heritage, tradition, culture and craftsmanship.
I want to bring people back to the real world from the virtual world, and help them understand how lovely it is to write a love letter by hand in good calligraphy, rather than just sending a message on WhatsApp or a meme. I know I use technology every day for many purposes, but I’m also aware that writing anything, any idea by hand; black on white with a pen on fantastic paper, helps it come alive. I have a romantic vision of this business, so that’s the reason I decided to marry Fabriano Boutique’s project with these values. Our mission is to bring people back and tell them “Hey! Take some rest. Write a note to your friend, your wife, your husband…whoever. Even though it’s more work, it’s romantic and personal.
DD: Fabriano Boutique has a valuable heritage. Its products provide great inspiration because writing will never stop. Its products also bring in that sense of colour, which is synonymous with India. Today, thanks to the innovation and evolution of the brand, we can all be a part of this history. They come with beautiful objects, which carry meaning. When one enters the store, one can’t help but feel happy and childlike.
“When it comes to the strategy behind the design, what we’d really like to point out are the colours of life.”
CD: We really love colours because they make life good and make one smile. Other than that, we like to collaborate with independent designers from time to time. It’s like a breath of fresh air. Otherwise, the risk is that people who work with me will follow my taste, but my taste is not the market’s taste.
“We pay very high attention to the environment”
CD: When it comes to producing paper, we have to follow a specific regimentation about how we use water, solar and wind energies for our factory. We’re part of the Forest Stewardship (FSC) programme. This means that our products come from sustainable forests. To bring FSC products, which are free of chlorine, alcohol and acid we need authorisation. Our products, before going to the market are double-checked and graded by a specific independent institution.
One of our collections is cruelty-free and is made of materials like cork, pulp and wood. It took us a couple of years to find, make and test the right materials. It is as water-resistant and purposeful as leather. This, for us, is very important.
“When one has very special stationery, like Fabriano, it is actually an extension of one’s personality.”
DD: One can express one’s personality, good taste and aesthetic sense with it. The products offer one a variety of ideas on what all can be done with paper. The stationery market will not die. It’ll evolve. I think everything should not be decided by numbers. The numbers follow as we grow.
The brand and its products are for anybody who feels they can utilise it; it’ll add value to their way of thinking, and it gives them pleasure. When we were children, we wanted to own a lot of things when we used to go into a store such as this. Fabriano Boutique will give you that kind of feeling, even as a grown-up.
“There’s a story behind each of our products”
CD: In Italy, there is a legend. If one puts a small notebook under the bed of a newborn, then all their wishes or at least what’s being hoped for them, will come true one day. Everything has a romantically beautiful side.
“We want to be settling down and be in as many good places in India, as we can.”
CD: At the moment, people are welcome to our store to test the products, to leave a message or to draw something and enjoy. It doesn’t matter if one’s buying the product or not because I’m sure once they test them, they’ll return. Soon, we will also be offering classes of calligraphy, origami and kirigami…all those things that nowadays are maybe lost.