In a digital age, you may think that a brand dedicated to paper and writing culture would struggle to find relevance, but in fact, the opposite is true. When instant messages, emails and emojis are the norm, the tactility and personable nature of paper becomes more powerful than ever.
Indeed, it’s this strong desire for the tangible, the durable and the handmade that led Swiss entrepreneur Fabian Hotz to create contemporary paper and writing brand Hieronymus. Having spent the last 25 years transforming his father’s printing company into a group for brand-oriented business development, he sees Hieronymus as a culmination of this expertise and a continuation of his heritage. Hotz launched Hieronymus in 2014 after four years of careful product development. His goal was to create an international brand that would embrace the traditional heritage of paper, printing and writing but in a resolutely contemporary style.
The product range, which encompasses all manner of personal correspondence accoutrements, is tailored to the design-minded consumer. Fine paper, bespoke stationery, writing instruments, notebooks and leather goods are all designed in-house and handmade to the highest level of quality in its own manufactory or by selected craftsmen in France, Germany and Italy.
‘Hieronymus’ roots lie in the “black art” of letterpress printing,’ explains the brand’s creative director Thorsten Traber, who, with his small design team, has steered Hieronymus’ development over the last six years. ‘Forty years ago, the Hotz family printing company used an old Heidelberg letterpress. It was slowly replaced by offset printing before being retired to the basement. Five years ago, we put it back into service. It’s used for Hieronymus’ blind embossing, letterpress printing and hot-foil stamping, all carried out by a craftsman who has worked at the company for more than 30 years.’
Indeed, Traber has ensured that craftsmanship is at the heart of everything that the Switzerland-based brand produce, starting with its paper. Uncoated and 100 per cent cotton, Hieronymus’ paper has a fine surface that facilitates smooth writing while also being soft and generously thick, making it perfect for embossing.
It’s exclusively produced in four very subtle white tones - Cotton White Cream, White Red, White Green and White Blue. Each sheet is finished with the characteristic silver top edge and a tiny hallmark in the bottom left-hand corner. ‘Our brand is discreet and subtle,’ explains Traber. ‘We wanted it to be haptically and visually clear without having to show the logo.’
Equally considered, leather goods are made entirely by hand using only full-grain, fleshside leather calfskins. Leather-bound notebooks are distinguished by trademark rounded spines while leather pen cases, bags and clutches are lined with soft Alcantara. In terms of writing utensils, Hieronymus’ offering runs the gamut. Letter openers, desk cases, trays and pens are offered in noble metals while letter cases are crafted in lacquer, leather and horn.
The fountain pen, in particular, has proved to be a runaway success. Produced only in small quantities, customers must now sign up to a waiting list to get one. With a cap and shaft painstakingly worked from 925 sterling silver into a clear cylindrical form, the pen’s rhodium-plated writing nib is made from 18ct gold and ensures a flawlessly smooth stroke.
Meanwhile, a full bespoke service for stationery allows customers to personally select everything from design, layout and font to paper stock and printing technique. Leather goods can be personalised with a monogram, while all notebooks can be tailored with coloured edges, silk endpapers, textile headbands and bookmarks. These products are available at the flagship store in Zürich and at the Hieronymus Online Shop.
The attention to detail that is applied to each Hieronymus product is naturally extended to the brand’s flagship store in Zurich. Opened in 2014 and realised in a palette of bronze mirror, marble and special travertine, the store is a harmonious homage to paper and writing culture. ‘We wanted to create the perfect stage for our many products,’ says Traber. ‘Glenn Sestig Architects clearly understood our philosophy from the outset.’ Of course, just like Hieronymus’ paper and stationery, it’s the attention to detail that truly elevates the experience; a custom-made scent fills the air while music composed in-house creates a calm ambience. ‘It’s the harmoniously co-ordinated details, minimalistic design language and sumptuous materials,’ says Traber. ‘All these elements combine to create the Hieronymus aesthetic. Our passion for detail means we are always seeking perfection.’