The psychology of stationery 

Picture: Getty

Even as grown-ups, we love a nice bit of stationery. But why?

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By Frankie Graddon on

3.20pm, Friday afternoon at The Pool HQ:

Stacey: Corrrrrr blimey.

Lauren: PORN.

Hannah: Witchcraft. 

Elle: LOVE IT.

No, we weren’t YouTube-ing Magic Mike XXL (well…); we were, in fact, talking stationery. Apparently, we’re quite into it. And we’re not the only ones. 

Last week, it was reported that Moleskine, the fancy stationery brand, sold over 17 million notebooks last year, with sales having doubled in the last five. Beloved by the tech and creative world alike (apparently Picasso, Hemingway and Matisse were fans), the brand’s success, according to CEO Arrigo Berni, is down to the growing number of people who prefer paper to a computer.

Since the days doing a back-to-school WHSmith haul, stationery has provoked a nerdy thrill. But hang on, aren’t we all addicted to our laptops and smartphones now? A quick office poll indicates that Berni is on to something. The general consensus is that part of the joy of stationery is it provides a counterpoint to our digital lives. It’s something to touch, consider and keep. 

Social psychologist Elle Boag explains further: “There is something about a new pen, notebook etc that makes many adults quite emotional. The smell and cleanness of a fresh notebook makes us feel that, within this book, anything can be achieved. We could write lists, letters to loved ones, write our memories or have our children draw us pictures which we can keep forever. The sense of potential can be quite a draw.” 

Another factor is the sense of individuality that stationery creates. Remember wanting to be the only person with a Garfield ring binder on the first day of school? Or the consequent customisation of poor Garfield when you realised that Susie in Form 3 had the same one (damn you, Susie). “You can get everything, from an eraser to office furniture, with the same logo," explains Boag. "A logo can be a way of identifying how unique and interesting you are. You might choose a quirky print, pink glitter or even a Star Wars design, which shows the world that you are fun, vibrant and approachable. Alternatively, you might choose a classic set that conveys a professional demeanour.” Like clothing, our stationery choices reflect our personality and can be used to bolster a sense of positive identity. 

Call us a bunch of romantics, but the overriding theme within The Pool team was that stationery has a sense of liberation and nostalgia. It makes us feel comforted and, above all, really jolly happy to possess a lovely pen and notebook. 

Six feelgood stationery bits 


Picture: Getty
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