Suann Song is the Founder and Creative Director of Appointed — a minimalist stationery and desk object range from Washington, USA that we’re excited to launch on NoteMaker in July 2016. We were instant fans of this brand because every element within the range of Appointed stationery is thoughtfully designed and considered…in their words “designed to elevate the work experience” which is what we’re all about at NoteMaker! They are stationery products that truly make utility look luxurious.
We chat with Founder and Creative Director of Appointed, Suann Song, to find out a bit more about the brand and where her inspiration comes from.
Suann your love of stationery design began several years ago with a blog, letterpress work and a even a stationery store. How did this evolve into your vision for Appointed?
My love for stationery starts back as far as I can remember. I used to play paper store when I was young and have always collected paper—stationery, notebooks, pens, greeting cards—and still do. I’m a self-taught designer and designed “on the side” for years while I was a PR and marketing director, with the hopes of working full-time in the creative world one day. Shortly after the birth of my son I took a letterpress printing class and within the first hour of that class, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. That began my road to working in the creative world. For years, I built my experience and portfolio by designing and producing everything from wedding invitations to business collateral. That eventually lead to running a growing design studio where we opened a small stationery shop.
Fast forward to 2013 when I came up with the idea for Appointed. My personal aesthetic has always been minimalist and gender-neutral and while I loved, and still do, Japanese and European paper products I couldn’t find the type of paper products I wanted—so I decided to create my own. That began 18 months of researching, prototyping and designing what I considered my ideal line. All my years of marketing, PR, owning a stationery store, letterpress printing and designing for others have played an invaluable role in the building of Appointed.
Was your Kickstarter campaign helpful in more than just raising funds to start the Appointed brand?
Absolutely! After the year+ of research and designing the line, I calculated the initial amount of funding I would need to “kickstart” the brand. I researched a variety of funding sources but decided on Kickstarter for a couple of reasons—not only to raise initial funding but it allowed me the opportunity to gauge interest in the product and brand. On Kickstarter, contributors support a product or concept in an early or preproduction phase and base their decisions to back a campaign solely on images. The success of our Kickstarter campaign gave me a lot of affirmation that we had a strong concept, brand and product and that we could confidently go to market with a larger product line, which we did shortly after the Kickstarter campaign.
Why was it important to you to create your products in the USA?
This started from a practical standpoint. Manufacturing our products in the US, many locally in the Washington, D.C. area, allowed us to maintain the highest level of quality control as possible. Our products are simple at first glance, but every single detail is considered. Five different vendors participate in the production of our notebooks. Everything from how much the corners are rounded to the perforation of each page is considered and each of our partners recognise our commitment to quality. If our products were manufactured abroad we would lose much of the ability to control quality and create a product exactly to our design specifications.
In addition and something I’ve come to value very much—many of our manufacturing partners are small-to-midsize companies that are family-owned. They are the best at what they do and I am proud to support these fellow small businesses.
Your designs are quite pared back and minimalist – how do you stay true to this and still make products that will catch a shopper’s eye?
This is something we consider every day!
While our designs are definitely pared back and minimalist, we consider our materials a core element of our designs. Our carefully selected materials—from the linen covers to brass wire to premium paper stock— enhance our designs and are often what catch the shopper’s eye.
In addition, we try to offer a variety of colourways that independently stand alone but are also intended to be used together. All of our colours are fairly neutral but when you pair our chambray blue notebook with a dove grey planner, you have a beautiful pairing of products that enhance your desktop.
What other minimalist designs, designers or brands do you admire?
I’m hugely inspired by Scandinavian and Japanese design—I’ve always admired the pared back and thoughtful approach to design from these regions. I’m also a long-time fan of British designer Margaret Howell. She has a very utilitarian and minimalist approach to her luxury designs. Any time where minimalism and design meets function is super inspiring to me.
What is your own favoured stationery tool?
Of our products, my favourite tool and integral to my daily work process is my notebook. All of my work begins and ends on paper. One of my favourite things is a filled-up, well-loved notebook—I love the sense of accomplishment it represents! Of other products, I love Delfonics pens and I have a beautiful stainless steel tape dispenser by Japanese designer Takeshi Endo that I love.
Despite our increasingly digital age, why do you think stationery and desk objects still have such appeal?
There’s something about the tactile action of writing down a task or starting a project or idea on paper that can’t be replicated on a computer. For a lot of people, including myself, it’s still very much a part of their work, design or studying process; and I believe it will be like that for a long time to come. We spend so much time at our desks or working, and I believe that surrounding ourselves with beautiful, functional tools can only help with our productivity and foster creativity.
What would you love to add next to the Appointed range?
We’re working on a variety of things that we’re excited to release. Our core products will always remain paper tools, which we’ll continue to build and refine.
We have a number of new paper accessories in the works and we’ve also been working on a few select leather pieces that we’re excited to start releasing this winter, starting with our perfect pencil case!
(Images in this post sourced from Appointed.)