Naturalis Works

JournalDesign

Naturalis Works

Raising the profile of a very special paper stock...

A brilliant product distributed by a brilliant company not quite hitting the brilliant sales numbers it so brilliantly deserves? You’ll have your own list, but this has been, for some time, the case of Naturalis, a paper manufactured for GFSmith by Tullis Russell Papermakers.

If you’re anything to do with paper, if you’re in design, print or the world of publishing, then you’ll know Naturalis for what it is: the paper that ink loves. Let’s get technical. Uncoated, natural and possessing a sackful of environmental credentials, Naturalis is known for its high levels of ink lift, for not, then, soaking ink up, for doing exactly what a beautiful, high-end paper should be doing: fixing detail; maintaining vibrancy of colour, the density and spread of solids; and for ensuring that images remain super clear. Let’s go deep. Naturalis addicts and associated nerdsters will know also that an uncoated paper of this quality is particularly useful in the department of metallic inks, hexachrome colours and stochastic screen use. Okay? Good.

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So, in short, a fabulously crafted real-world product, really simple and yet, at the same time, technically complex, something that smells and feels and looks beautiful, something the print world perceives as being great, and yet not doing quite as well as it should.

What to do? Simple: the old three point plan: one, a GFSmith rethink; two, bring in StudioMakgill, design agency extraordinaire; three, design and print a series of Naturalis paper booklets exploring the quality of relationships that certain artists have with their working materials, the idea, says Hamish (Makgill), being ‘to focus on genuinely fine crafts people, people who think deeply about the material of choice.’

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Called Naturalis Works (perfect on so many levels), the first of these booklets, an in-depth look at fashion designer Oliver Spencer’s reverence for tweed, released late February this year, made waves in all the right places, with the already converted highlighting the quality of production, the novelty with which Makgill and co. incorporated all four sheets, and brand new audiences – fashionistas and the like – commenting on how well the paper suited Spencer’s approach.

The second booklet, a look at the violin-making prowess of Juliet Barker, does the same, but this time with wood. Due out on Wednesday, it thankfully doesn’t try to do anything different design-wise, preferring instead to allow the matched qualities of paper and subject to work off each other, the result being every bit as good as the Spencer booklet.

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So, a success? Well, it’s too early to say with regards to the sales objective, but no doubt there is here – in the series – a design and content that showcases perfectly the material quality of an outstanding paper: accessible, beautiful and relevant. Long may it continue.

Naturalis Works #2 comes out this Wednesday 20th July. A Naturalis Works #3, featuring Liquid Metal specialists Based Upon, is scheduled for release in the latter half of 2012.

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