London Craft Week X Smythson: Crafted For Life

Words by
Jemima Sissons

5th May 2017

In a celebration of Smythson's exquisite craft, discover a rare insight into the workings of the 130-year-old stationery company

This week London played host to London Craft Week, and it was a chance to uncover the handy work of some of the country’s most illustrious artisans.


Stationers and Royal Warrant holders Smythson celebrate their 130th anniversary this year. To commemorate their lasting commitment to artisanship, they filled their Bond Street store with craftsmen, from calligraphers to book binders, with an exhibition, Crafted for Life.

Bringing in graduates from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), it was an illuminating insight into what goes into creating their covetable goods. Always a pleasure to receive, the envelopes are hand-lined with tissue paper, designed in such a way that the tissue will never crease.

Michael Bonsor, Mike Bonner, Kurt Bredenbeck, Krishna Omkar

Calligrapher Davina Chapman was also there creating curlicues and flourishes onto name cards for the evening. She commented that since she went into retirement she ‘has never been so busy,’ perhaps as a result of the current trend for letterpress and the return to handwriting – possibly as a backlash against digital overload. Based in London, Chapman’s work involves event stationery, awards and citations, memorial books, wall pieces, lettering for advertising and private commissions.

Smythson created the world’s first portable diary in 1908, which became the Panama diary, reissued in 2013 and is known for its flexible binding. A team of bookbinders illustrated how this is done by showcasing the time-honoured craft of ribboning and casing in of books and diaries.

Smythson-Crafted-for-Life_Jackie Annesley

The company also brought in a silversmith, Manasi Depala, who showed off her skills in ‘chasing’ (bashing onto metal) a design inspired by a piece from Smythson’s archive. Having just returned from an internship on the Shetland Islands, she is in demand from brands seeking learned craftsmen. It goes to show that the need for skills is soaring with the ever-booming trend for luxury in craft, and why London Craft Week is a boost that the industry needs.


Smythson Crafted for Life: Davina Chapman