I was in Munich this week for the DLD conference and one of the first things I did was to head straight for the Gmund store on the Prannerstrasse next to the Bayerischer Hof hotel. Gmund is a Bavarian paper making firm that dates back to 1829. It is named after Gmund am Tegernsee, the town where the firm was born. They make paper for invitations, cards, letters, envelopes and blank notebooks. When you visit the store, you can feel the varieties of paper — the luxurious textures and colors that make their paper an absolute joy to write on.
It’s very unfashionable in my industry (tech) to write on paper using a fountain pen, which I still do, probably out of habit. When I was at school (run by Belgian nuns), we had to write with fountain pens. The thing I realized is that unless the paper I’m writing on is of a high quality, the ink does not dry immediately and it tends to bleed. Worse, if the paper is too thin, the ink ends up on the back page.
I am amazed at how popular Moleskine notebooks have become. I have used them over the years but I find the paper to be of inferior quality to that used by Gmund and other notebook makers such as Richard Painter, another German brand. It’s not just the paper, but the binding and the cover of the notebook itself. Gmund is superior to anything I’ve every had.
I am certain that my tech friends are laughing right now, making fun of my love for dead trees, but for me, there is something meditative about writing on paper, especially on beautiful blank notebooks. I write about anything: my ideas for new web applications, my thoughts, short stories, poetry. It seems to me that something so creative deserves an aesthetic home and the act of writing itself becomes fulfilling. It’s part of the “slow” movement, like Slow Food, where people take the time to enjoy the everyday things in life.
If you are ever in Munich, visit the Gmund shop for all your paper needs, and stop by a good pen store, too. For fountain pens, I use a Pelikan Souveraen M800. For ball pens, I find the quality and elegance of Faber-Castell ball pens to be unbeatable (as are their fountain pens).
For those who cannot go to Munich, there is an online shop but not all of their products are available yet through the web shop. That will change by end of February 2008.