If you read this blog regularly, you know I have a very complex relationship with paper. On the one hand, going paperless is one of my most popular topics, and I walk the walk: Look for me on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll find me scanning, shredding and disposing of the week’s pile-up, storing everything digitally (yes, I understand this is illustrative of how sad my weekends are). However, when it comes to taking notes, hatching big ideas, or just making lists of things I’ll do tomorrow, the combination of paper and a Sharpie is unparalleled.
From a young age, I fell hard for paper: I used to roam the aisles at a paper store in my hometown and caress the deckled edges of an Italian notecard, or marvel at the feel of my pen on a thick, creamy paper stock. I began a pricey habit then that persists to this day of wanting to write in high quality notebooks. So when I saw a Kickstarter for a company called Appointed, who were setting out to create a line of beautiful, minimal, utilitarian paper goods, I happily plunked down some cash and offered my support.
Appointed makes utility look luxurious, with handcrafted, high quality desk goods like chunky erasers and paper day planners. The company is the brainchild of Suann Song, a graphic designer and the founder of SIMPLESONG Design in Washington, D.C. She’s spent the last 15 years in graphic design, marketing and specialty printing—it’s all been the perfect ramp-up to launching Appointed.
Appointed’s signature product is the notebook, which Song carefully researched and prototyped. She considered every design element, from the cloth or paper stock used on the cover, to the brass coils holding everything together. I can tell you that once I got her notebooks in hand, I was an instant super-fan.
After debuting with an e-commerce shop in the summer of 2015, then moving into retail stores in major markets, the company has also launched an Appointed for Kids capsule line. I talked with Song about her brand and how it can peacefully coexist with a digital workspace.
What was it like using Kickstarter as an entrepreneur?
It was both great and nerve-wracking. Great in the sense that we raised initial funding for the company while also gauging the level of interest in the product and new brand. Nerve-wracking because I’m far more comfortable behind-the-scenes and the moment you do a crowd funding campaign, you put yourself out there for everyone to see and judge. Thankfully we were successfully funded and the campaign truly kick-started the company.
Why did you choose to design products like paper, pencils and erasers in a digital era?
Technology and the Internet are pretty much my life but that being said, for me (and for a lot of people), much of my work and world starts on paper. Everything I design begins on paper. My daily life is organized in my notebook. And there’s great satisfaction in writing a letter or filling up a notebook with ideas, notes, and lists. So, I wanted to create paper products that were not only beautiful and well made, but also functional. And that is the origin of and philosophy behind the company. We’ve been received so well and a lot of other great paper companies are thriving; I think paper is here to stay, hopefully for a long time!
What tech gadget does not yet exist, but we need?
Something that folds laundry or empties the dishwasher — I don’t mind loading both but the next step are my most despised home chores. (I didn’t get to tell Suann that I saw this laundry folding robot at CES after our interview!)
What is your favorite app for keeping your son, Ike, busy?
Ike has always loved to draw. He’s like me and prefers to draw on paper. He’s filled many notebooks, and has even given input on some of our product development and helped me develop our kid’s line. But there are a few great drawing apps that we like: Tayasui Sketches and Sketch Club.
Vintage tech you miss from your youth?
Cassette tapes or typewriters.
Favorite social media platform, and why?
Probably Instagram. I’m super visual and I like getting quick visual glimpses into people’s lives and work.