Pen and paper isn’t boring anymore. In the last decade, there’s been an incredible expansion in designer and novelty stationery brands. Despite the digital age largely taking away the need for physical pen and paper, there’s a growing trend of appreciating the aesthetic and nostalgic value of writing in the old-fashioned way. When there’s no need to write a letter because we have email, it makes taking the time and effort to write by hand special and meaningful.
If you’re looking for a way to make study a bit less boring, or to get yourself more organised, or to find a thoughtful, useful gift, exploring a good stationery store may be your answer.
Why should I care about stationery?
A pencil is just a pencil – why make this complicated? But if you’ve only ever used plain, cheap ballpoint pens, you may be missing out on a great experience.
Quality vs Quantity
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Two notebooks may appear to be exactly the same, but the cheaper, lower-quality paper just won’t hold up nearly as well. There’s nothing more frustrating than your pen constantly tearing through the page, disrupting your work and ruining the next page with ink marks.
A similar trend applies to pens and pencils. Cheap pens won’t write as smoothly and will run out faster. If you just need something disposable for short notes, that may not matter. But if you do quite a bit of writing, having a pen that travels easier and faster across the page with a consistent flow of ink and no smudging can keep your energy focussed on your work rather than your writing instrument.
This doesn’t mean you should go straight for the designer section – but thinking about whether buying the cheapest product is actually the most efficient can save you the frustration of having to buy fifty cheap pens when maybe two mid-range pens would cover the same writing distance with less waste and less clutter.
Back to School Stationery
Buying school supplies can be one of the most stressful times of the school year. If you’re short on time, a number of retailers such as your local newsagency and Officeworks will fill your order for you. Just drop off your list, and come back later to collect the fully assembled back to school stationery pack. For Officeworks, you can upload your school supplies list to their website and they’ll sort it out for you to be collected from your nearest store, even with the option of indicating a preferred item colour. Shop around to see which school list service best suits you.
If you’ve got the time and want to find the best deals, cater to your child’s interests, or just really enjoy stationery shopping, you’ll have even more options. Consider carefully what’s worth investing in – if they’ll probably just lose them, maybe don’t send them off to school with the fancy textas. Some kids love being able to choose their own stationery. If they need a little extra motivation to pick up a pencil, getting them something fun can help make them more excited about doing schoolwork.
Feeling positive about your work or study is absolutely necessary for productivity. Having a clean, organised, well-presented work environment can make a huge difference to your subconscious mindset. Having cute, fun, or interesting stationery pieces can help make your brain stay on a positive and motivated track. However, be careful not to overdo it. Making everything unique means nothing is unique, and you might suffer from sensory overload that clogs your brain’s flow of its best work. Sometimes simple is best.
Studies show that the colours around you affect your mood and the way your brain focuses. For example, green is calming and does not strain the eye, so it’s good for those working long hours to surround themselves with a gentle green. Red is an energetic, attention-grabbing colour – select red stationery for things that are very important, such as a to-do list
What is good stationery?
‘Good’ stationery really depends on what you personally value. Good could be high quality paper or a finely built pen that rolls seamlessly across the page. Good could be fun and cute. Good could be cheap and plentiful. Good could be environmentally friendly and ethically sourced. Think about what you care about – do you want a pen that’s finely crafted, or a pen that’s shaped like a fish?
What are the best stationery shops & brands?
Australia is lucky to have a growing range of small designer stationery brands, which mean it’s easier than ever to find something really unique for your desk. There are also several big chain brands, each with a very different aesthetic. Below are a few of the most popular brands:
This Swedish designer stationery store offers pieces with beautiful, clean lines and colours with some cute pops here and there. Just walking into one of these meticulously designed stores will make you feel relaxed.
Aimed at the younger group, aged 5-14 years old (but just as fun for grown-up kids too), this bright, fun brand was born in Melbourne. Here you’ll be overwhelmed with quirky graphics and cheeky characters in bold bright colours. Some of their stationery is scented too!
This shop is full of fashionable stationery and decor targeted at teens and young adults who want to make a statement. It’s particularly popular for uni students looking for something fun to write their lecture notes in. Typo is a subsidiary of Cotton On clothing brand.
Made in Italy, the original classic moleskine notebook has now expanded into a range of notebooks, diaries, journals, bags, and writing tools. These high-quality, simple pieces are loved by writers and creatives for their high quality and elegance.
Where can I buy good stationery?
Most stationery brands don’t have their own exclusive stores. If you have a particular brand you like, visit their website to find out where your nearest stockists are. For browsing and discovering new products, there are a few different places where you can find a range of good stationery.
It’s your old reliable. Sure, it’s like walking into a warehouse, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. Officeworks carries a huge range of brands from budget to high end, including some unique novelty brands for kids and designer labels for the fashion-conscious. Be warned though, you may end up exploring for hours!
All Office Choice stores are independently owned and operated, but keep prices competitive as members of the Office Products Australia New Zealand buying group. You can explore your nearest physical store or shop online with free delivery for many areas.
Staples is much like Officeworks but entirely online. They’re particularly popular for office supplies, as they offer price matching, business credit accounts, and a purchase points system.
Recently, budget department store Kmart has focussed on developing its own lines of affordable style products. One area in which they’ve taken a great step forward is in affordable but fresh-looking stationery. You won’t always get the best quality here, but it’ll be a little different to what you’d expect from the budget all-rounder. There are plenty of colours and smart, clean designs that can help you make your home or workplace more organised without breaking the bank.
Department Stores (e.g. Myer, David Jones)
If you’re looking for more high-end products and niche brands, department stores usually stock a good range of products such as luxury notebooks, beautiful stationery sets, and premium pens.
An often overlooked place to get that new diary or pen is the bookshop. The range of products available depends on the size of the bookstore, but most carry at least diaries and planners and good quality refillable pens, with many also offering pen engraving services.
Ready to take your stationery supplies to the next level?
Have a good think about what you can do to improve your record keeping, study, or office organisation. The cheapest pack of pens and poor quality paper just don’t cut it anymore. Make your study or office space your own by taking the time to choose the best stationery supplies to suit your needs and style. The difference may surprise you!