We’re not quite sure we can forgive you if you say you haven’t heard of Esme Winter; British Designers and Pattern Makers inspired by ephemera and endpaper.
Their work is captivating in the detailed prints and highly decorative designs which are applied to high-quality stationery and decorative papers. It’s not a glitzy affair when you receive your order, but my, it’s one of immediate warmth and quality.
Esme Winter was set up in 2011 by Esme and Richard who embody this quiet philosophy through their patient and considered approach to design and colour. A case in point is their stackable boxes which are covered in decorative patterned paper from the range and lined with matching block colours.
The beauty is in the detail with foil block text on the bottom of boxes that exclaim MADE IN ENGLAND set against the strong print, little slips of paper inside the boxes inviting you to store treasured items in them and a boldness and variety of colour which is quite simply, mood enhancing! Their gift tags are threaded with bookbinder’s linen in a range of shades and its this sense of authenticity which is so pleasing.
Why buy decorative paper sheets we hear you ask? The response according to Esme Winter: ‘For bookbinding, origami and gift wrapping. We share a belief with our customers that the paper can be as important as the gift itself. By taking care and having attention to detail, wrapping and unwrapping objects is a joyful and enriching experience for both gift-giver and receiver’. We were incredibly drawn to both the heavy-weight quality and the patterns of these papers, reminding us of trips to London when we were little, visiting stationery shops where we were treated to a few special sheets of paper for treasured projects. This memory sparked a wish to have a go at some simple origami…
The box took under 10 minutes to make in total and the joy is that you have the pattern on the outside and the inside maximising impact and the sheet with just a slim sliver of wastage. Nothing is required except paper and scissors and you can have a go yourself by visiting this step-by-step tutorial here. It was fun to stack the finished result with boxes from the range for a very special present. It’s true there is a pleasure in giving a beautifully packaged present to the delight of the receiver!
With visual bookmarking sites such as Pinterest and Instagram there are endless inspiring ways to use paper within the home so we would be interested to see what you’d be inspired to make. We have two sheets left which we’re biding our time to use so watch this space…
With so many questions bubbling over Richard was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions below:
What led you to start Esme Winter and decide to take the leap to create this very British business?
‘Our business was the amalgamation of many facets of our life, from our shared passion of decorative and book arts to our respective careers in interior finishing and independent retail. Starting and growing our business, though it has been hard work, has been a very organic process. We enjoy sampling and finding out the provenance of a paper or material. All Esme Winter products are made in the UK and Europe using Acid Free, FSC Assured papers and Vegetable-based inks. Responsible sourcing is a story that we like to tell and it’s certainly something we consider as a perk to our work!’.
How influential is mid-century modernism in the designs you make? What is it about this style that speaks to you the most?
‘Though we aren’t looking directly to mid-century modernism whilst we physically design, the sheer volume of it on our bookshelves is bound to have an effect! In particular we are great admirers of ‘Modern British’ and the early European modernists of the Bauhaus. Maybe its biggest influence on us however is that we like to imagine our product in-situ in a beautiful mid-century house, perhaps belonging to Finn Juhl or Alvar Aalto…’.
Your patterns are small scale repeats – what is the rationale behind this?
‘It’s always been the way Esme has drawn, having been bought up surrounded by book art from a young age, it was the endpapers that enthralled and obsessed. Even the dullest cover can have an exciting endpaper hidden inside! It’s these patterns, often from Florentine prints or artists such as Enid Marx and Edward Bawden that have stuck in the mind. Each of our designs has its own life story behind it. Some may work instantly whilst others have been in a drawer for years before finding their own particular appeal to us’.
At the heart of the collection is an appreciation of quality and an aspiration to create paper-based products with longevity. Achieving this through the means of design, production and the end products themselves is of central importance. This craftsmanship and simple well thought out philosophy has directed the growth of this successful British company and will in no doubt contribute to its growing successes in the future. Watch this space!
We approached Esme Winter to write this article as we have long been fans of this British brand. Products were sent for photography and for the purposes of the review but all thoughts and photographs our own.