I love a website with such a true-to-the-core mission that it’s woven throughout every click, hover and scroll of the mouse. It’s almost as if the seed’s living fiber – the tiniest evidence of its belief – is forming the very HTML code we’re reading, ready to burst forth and take root in our own minds and souls and hearts. For me, the authenticity behind a site called This is Paper grows daily, planting a new-found purpose with its most recent addition: a shop.
A quick visit to ThisisPaper offers a breath of fresh air amidst the smog-covered skies of online content. There is white space – room to think and ponder – providing a quiet pause between inspired images of makers and creations and ideas. A pause that wills you to learn something, to take hold of these projects and connect with their stories. So of course, it makes perfect sense that its founders would feel the same pull to create after they’ve built a website so devoted to artisan craft. “We felt the need to expand and step from the digital into the analog world,” writes Alexander. “Why be satisfied with showing beautiful things when you can make them, too?”
So the crew set forth designing, sourcing, sewing and stitching, releasing an initial line of bags and rucksacks. “When we were finished, we just couldn’t stop,” writes Alexander. So the shop was born, now fully stocked with thoughtfully made items for everyday use – and a bold mission behind each product. “We launched Thisispaper Shop to make a statement. We disagree with mass production and consumption, with the relentless quest for new products that satisfy artificially created needs.”
This discontent with today’s consumerism is rooted in personal experience. Both founders of ThisisPaper, Alexander and Zuzanna, grew up in a country that went through an economic transformation – from planned economy under communist rule to the free market they have today. “We saw the market being rapidly flooded with Western products that used to be utterly inaccessible to us in our early childhood,” Alexander writes.
But the initial excitement from this abundance wore off after a few years, just as the products themselves began to wear. “They turned out to be low quality, short-lived and – at the end of the day – simply useless,” he writes. “We’d much rather go back to the basics, own just a few items, made and handled with care. Because at some point in life, a fairly curious and observant person can’t fail to notice that neither the environment nor the buyers themselves benefit from excessive consumption of goods.”
For Alexander and Zuzanna, no everyday item is too dull or mundane to be carefully designed, handcrafted and loved. “Beauty, we believe, lies in the simple objects we use everyday, without even acknowledging it,” Alexander writes. “Simplicity is king in everything we do. Fashion isn’t.”
And in a world where fashion is everything and more is better, it’s a welcome mission for those seeking an alternative to the status quo. Toward the end of our correspondence, I asked Alexander for some advice on avoiding the spiral of over-consumption and training ourselves to better consider the effects of our purchases. And in his answer lived something much bigger:
“If there’s one thing we want to communicate to people, it’s that one should be careful not to be trapped on the treadmill which is the hectic world of today,” he writes. “Do keep your eyes and ears open and seek ways to increase your awareness of what your world really is. It won’t hurt to ask yourself some basic questions from time to time, just to make sure your heading in the right direction. Do you really want to be a part of the race?”
I don’t. And I suppose that’s what slow blogging has been about all this time. I’ve been preparing myself to slow the gas, release the pedals and climb down from my fast cycle getaway – ready to explore the world by foot for a bit. I have a feeling I’ll be toting Alexander’s rucksack on my journey. (Happy weekend to you, friends.)
Image Credits: ThisisPaper