If I was going to go on a speed date with stationery, I would probably be pretty smitten with Arbos. Hand-Made? Check. 100% Recycled? Check. Individually Designed? Check. Made in Italy? Check. Hard to find? Check. Pretty and robust? Check!
Arbos is a small company based in North East Italy...Solagna to be precise. While their stationery lacks the normal Italian taste for luxury and excess, it is replete with the stereotypical Italian passion and romance.
A pseudo-reincarnation, shading of character from a past life, it may seem a little bit pretentious to think that the life of some paper is affected by the life it previously lived. It may be pretentious to think of paper as having a life at all, but Arbos's feet are firmly on the ground when they speak of re-creating paper.
The Arbos philosophy is fairly instructive of their style: "Paper has many lives. Paper is created from a tree which dies. We don’t know where and when, but we know surely that a tree has been knocked down to give us that white sheet of paper. But as soon as it has been used and torn up, another paper can be created out of it. In the fibre traces of its first life, of the actual presence of man can now be read. It’s better to recreate than create paper"
Their Cartapaglia is a unique blend of post-consumer fibres collected from council recycling centres. It is the most earthy, raw paper stock we've seen and each page is unique, rough and unself-consciously humble. Each page really does - visually, if not spiritually - have character and the various styles of cover binding used are equally rich in perfectly imperfect charm.
There's depth here and as well as Arbos stands up to a stationery speed-date questionnaire, it does even better under closer scrutiny. Full of all those little endearing nicks that come with hand-making and recycling things, Arbos notebooks couldn't be less generic nor more idiosyncratic, sheet by sheet.