Hello friends! Welcome to another installment of Stationery Sunday. In this weekly series, I introduce a stationery shop (or two) here in Seoul, Korea. You can see the full list with Google map on my Seoul Stationery Guide page.
This week is the One Third store by the ecofriendly stationery brand, gongjang. I showed a taste of their latest product range from their exhibition “The Art of Organization” at Object in my last post.
Address: 62 Yeonhui-ro 11ma-gil, Yeonhui-dong (Google map link)
When I asked why the store was called “One Third,” the designer explained it was because the building was divided into thirds: top floor is private space, the second floor is the design office, and the ground floor is the showroom and shop! Loved that!
I was immediately intrigued by this brand because of their brand philosophy. Straight from the gongjang website:
gongjang seeks for the minimum design with no unnecessities. gongjang is also an environmental brand name that considers environment across all progress in making a product. We love to deliver comfort and warmth of the nature with oriental touch and nature-like textures. gongjang has two meanings, one of which is ‘gongjang(工匠)-a craftsman, who makes things skillfully’ and the other is ‘gongjang(工場)-a factory, where goods are made’‘About gongjang’ from brand website
I will be honest. I have had a niggling internal struggle ever since I rekindled my love for stationery. On the one hand I appreciate artists and designers making their own products. I want to support them, and I think it’s important to do so. On the other hand, my conscience is a little bit bothered by falling into consumerism, and a lot bothered by all the packaging Korean stationery comes in. Everything comes wrapped in little plastic sleeves. It’s ridiculous. Whenever possible, I ask not to have things bagged. I also save all the sleeves to repurpose (in my sketchbooks, to refill with samples to send to penpals, etc.) but I know it’s not as good as not buying in the first place.
Anyway, I digress. The point is, I really appreciated that this brand seeks more eco-friendly alternatives in their product design. Many of their notebooks are made of recycled paper and printed with soy or vegetable inks.
I would say notebooks and planners really distinguish gongjang brand. They have a variety of different notebook series with thoughtful and interesting concepts. For example there are the “1/2 sketchbooks” with a perforation down the middle so you can rip out half the page and leave the other half in the sketchbook.
These gray notebooks on the table all have different line spacings. From finely spaced to wide-ruled, like Goldilocks you can find the just the right one that suits your handwriting. Because, as the front of the store says, our handwriting is all different.
I’d love to know what your handwriting is like. Big and loopy? Small and compact? I personally find my handwriting changes depending on my writing instrument. I’ll print fine and neat with a slim tipped pen, and big and scrawly with a thicker pen. Generally prefer blank notebooks, but I do appreciate the guide of lines every once in a while.
There are also nature and animal themed notebook series. For example there’s the Nature’s Friends series and the “Save Me” series with endangered animals. The latter has a check list on the inside cover with sustainability tips to save energy, water and reduce waste.
I love all stationery. Some days I love bright and colorful and cutesy. Other days all I want in life is a wooden desk space in muted colors, decorated with vintage pieces like these pencil cases.
I also loved the texture of these notebooks in these muted, earthy tones.
I visited this shop back in September 2019 so the brand has a larger range of items, including post its and stickers. Present and Correct in London now carries their Moon sticky notes. And you can find gongjang products in the Hottracks stationery section of Kyobo bookstores in Korea.
So while there are both offline and online options, I’d recommend checking out their store if you can. Yeonhui-dong is a lovely neighborhood to walk around and discover cute shops, eateries and cafes. I had a great afternoon this day exploring the neighborhood and getting a bite to eat. See my very short (less than 2 minutes) peek into the One Third Store, as well as a cute little sandwich shop and cool cafe in Yeonhui-dong.
So, are there any other notebook addicts out there? Do you prefer sticking with one brand, or do you like to change it up? I definitely had phases of brand loyalty when I was younger (composition notebooks in high school and Moleksines in college). These days I like trying out different notebooks and experimenting with different paper types. My only condition is that it has to be fairly compact and lightweight!
Thank you for stopping by for Stationery Sunday. See you next week, and take care!