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The write stuff

The digital age was meant to put an end to paper, but a new Ikea  boutique shows that we can’t get enough of it, writes Kate Burt

You know something is having a moment when the big brands get in on it. And that thing, right now, is stationery. Ikea has just begun rolling out their new in-store stationery boutiques – known as The Paper Shop – in branches nationwide.

But why are notebooks, cards, wrapping paper and washi tape so hot right now? Howard Carter, Ikea’s sales business leader, explains what was behind the launch: “Around the world we have seen a creative trend emerge,” he says.

“Consumers have adopted a do-it-yourself ethos and are getting more and more crafty, from baking cakes to making clothes and creating their own decorations. Paper is a simple and cost-effective way for consumers to nurture their creativity.”

It is, of course, the perfect line for cash-strapped times: your salary might be stalled, but a tenner’s worth of notebooks and some creativity with brightly coloured Japanese masking tape can transform your desk into a cheerier space.

Equally, while the gift budget may have shrunk, wrapping a downsized offering with panache instantly imbues it with more value. And a hand-written card in the age of instant messaging always feels special. And Ikea is just the latest – and perhaps biggest – to get in on the act. Designer-favourite stationery store, Present & Correct, recently moved from online to opening a physical London shop, despite having launched during economically gloomy 2008.

Liberty recently opened a whole department dedicated to the stuff, there’s been a rash of new branches of Paperchase and a staggering 400 per cent profit leap at Smythson. And with Ikea’s Scandi designs starting at just 50p, we predict the items on these pages to become as ubiquitous in our homes as the Billy bookcase.