The Papersmith Series – Cecilia Börjesson and Cathrine Hansen, Stockholm

The Papersmith Series – Cecilia Börjesson and Cathrine Hansen, Stockholm

Cecilia and Cathrine are the beaming sister act behind one of our favourite new brands, Pretty Paper. Together, they create notebooks, greetings cards and writing paper, and run a bespoke wedding stationery service, all from their design studio in Stockholm.

It was only three years ago that the pair decided to become colleagues. They had complementary skills and experience, Cecilia in graphic design and Cathrine in fashion, and combined with their shared lifetime love of pattern, design and stationery, it became a very natural collaboration.

Hand-painted patterns in sumptuous shades swirl upon paper with both playfulness and sophistication. Pretty Paper’s approach to design is all about ‘maximalism’, making them stand out from their monochromatic Scandi peers. Inviting colour and pattern into their work is refreshing, and it doesn’t lose an ounce of functionality or simplicity in doing so.

Nine times out of ten the girls make new collections whilst on holiday, so we were fascinated to hear about their organic creation process. They also shared their enviable summer plans, and their top spots in the city.

Hello Cecilia and Cathrine. Tell us how you started Pretty Paper. How have your backgrounds influenced your roles within the business today?

Hi there! We have always been interested in design - clothing, styling, interior, gardening etc. Cathrine is our Sales Manager and she has a genuine interest in fashion and fabrics as she has always worked within retail and fashion. Cecilia is a graphic designer and our Creative Director. She has always dreamt of running her own business in some way.

We didn’t really plan to start a business together but we both found a common platform in colourful patterns. We started with a huge creative process to find ourselves, creating patterns that we felt could suit anything, whether it was a dress or a cushion cover. Cecilia’s expertise and love for paper and stationery led to starting up Pretty Paper as it is today. We launched our first collection in 2016.

Sweden doesn’t have the same kind of stationery tradition as in the UK or US, which also was a trigger. We wanted to start up a Swedish stationery brand far away from a minimalistic approach, which you otherwise expect from Scandinavian designers.

How would you describe Pretty Paper’s ethos and aesthetic? In what ways do you see your stationery enhancing people’s everyday lives?

The more the merrier! Our products are characterised by colourful patterns with an unexpected twist in a shape or an accent color. In Sweden you are usually very minimalistic; in clothing, styling and interiors, but in accessories you can live a little with expressive details. We hope people see our products as functional accessories – an extension of their colourful personality.

Tell us all about Stockholm and your studio! We imagine it’s a beautiful city to work and live in. Do you have any favourite spots for food / shopping / design inspiration?

Yeah, it’s amazing! In Stockholm we are spoiled with so many things. It’s a beautiful city. There is always good coffee, excellent restaurants and shopping. There are so many different beautiful areas with different moods. We love to have a coffee at Cafe Frankfurt, have a quick lunch Maxos or at H&M’s new food concept Pleat or sushi at Tokyo Diner in Hötorgshallen. Nytorget 6 in Södermalm is also great for lunch, dinner or drinks. Shopping for clothes is great at Scandinavian brands such as Monki, Filippa K, Weekday, Acne, Samsøe Samsøe and Malene Birger.

How does paper and stationery play a part in your creative process? Do you have any go-to or special tools? Do you use journals or sketchbooks to generate ideas or stay organised?

We are not that organised in our creative process as we may wish! Our patterns are painted by hand with gouache watercolours. The end result is created through layering, combining and retouching of all painted parts digitally. Our patterns evolves organically, we never know at first how it will turn out. It’s a very liberating process.

The only thing we decide on is our inspiration source. It’s always a geographical location with characteristic moods, scents and colours. Every collection is like a travel story. It could for example be "a french countryside hideaway, filled with jazz music" or "enchanting shadows play under big exotic leaves somewhere in Mexico".

What’s the most memorable piece of art or design you’ve come across recently?

We visited London recently and went to a Picasso exhibition at the Tate Modern. It was fantastic! All pieces were from one year in his work life, the year of 1932 when he had a love story but also a year of tragedy. The pieces are amazing and left us very inspired.

What are your plans for the summer, both for Pretty Paper and personally?

We will work on some new collections. Cecilia always bring her brushes and inks on her vacations and actually, when we think about it, most collections are painted on a vacation! Cecilia will go to beautiful Österlen in south of Sweden and the absolutely adoring Danish island Bornholm. A trip to the coast of Liguria, Italy is also planned. Cathrine will visit Mallorca, Spain and go to Italy for a wedding in Tuscany. It will be a fantastic summer filled with inspiration!

Thank you both!

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