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Pepa: When stationery retail meets design

Pepa is a boutique stationery brand which has recently started operating from a historical building site in Christchurch. Owner Ami Muir talks about the aesthetic style behind her stationery range and how the historical building helps communicate her brand.

Ami Muir, creator of the Great NZ Wrapping Paper Book, has used her love and knowledge of Stationery design to open Pepa. The new stationery store is heavily influenced by Ami’s attention to detail, which is communicated through the seemingly perfect layout of the shop.

Pepa is located in one room within the Boy’s High building, part of the historic Christchurch Arts Centre. The centre itself brings a lot of character into the mix with its oak paneling inside and rough antique charcoal brickwork. We spoke to Muir about how her brand fits within the unique space while also staying true to her own personal style.

Tell me about your initial idea for the store, did you own personal style come in to how it was created?

I wanted the type of stationery store I'd seen overseas, for New Zealand. I wanted it to be a warm and welcoming and I wanted my customers to feel like they were a part of it. Stationery is a very personal thing, in your notebook you write your biggest secrets and your biggest goals - I want our customers to feel that relationship with the store as well as the products. I think of it as bigger than just 'retail', to me the store should be an experience. 

You’ve brought a lot of contemporary brands, as well as your own ‘Great New Zealand wrapping’ collection, into your store. What is the process that goes into what you decide to sell?

I have enough stock to twice-fill the store and I have the biggest list of brands I haven’t bought from yet.

There is so much good stationery that hasn’t made it to New Zealand - we're the only store that stocks around 90 percent of the products we do. I am a design and paper junkie, digging and finding designers making their own stuff is something I can happily spend hours - days - doing.

I try to bring in brands that contain a little bit of magic, and I hope to have a broad enough range so people are able to find that notebook, pad, or pen that they feel is just perfect for them.   

The world of stationery is anything but stationary, how do you go about analysing and sticking with trends?

I don't try and stick with trends, it just seems to be something that happens when buying stationery as designers are all constantly making new stuff - so it's always fresh and up to the minute.

I have always favoured classic, timeless design so I hope that what we bring in will stand the test of time as well as feel current. 

Historical buildings can often bring their own personality into a store, do you find Pepa works well with the building itself?

To me the space was a physical embodiment of what I wanted a stationery store to be – nostalgic and contemporary in one.

Nostalgic as it is a heritage building with an incredible history, and contemporary as it has just been given a new lease on life. I actually had no real immediate plans to open the store, it was merely a dream, until I found this space. As soon as I saw it I knew I had to make it happen. 

The aesthetic of the store is very unique when compared to other stationery brands, tell me about the styling and what went into the simple yet communicative design?

My photographer for The Kiss Co, Bonny Beattie helped style the store. Together we worked hard to make it feel warm, inviting and contemporary. 

The palette of wood and white acknowledges the heritage of the building and the beautiful restoration of the arts centre, but its minimal enough to accommodate changing trends in stationery. It was important that the store be a warm yet neutral canvas for each season of new stationery products.

What are your favourite products within your own store and why?

We have a pair of scissors I've termed 'lifetime scissors' by Craft Design Technology from Japan. They're so beautiful I want to frame them.

I love the Danzo desk organisers as they're the kind of item that just completes your life a little bit, a little bit of beauty for the every day. I also completely love the whale staplers, stapling should make you happy. 

This story first appeared at The Register.

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