Friday, February 25, 2011

Stationers of Delight: Interview - Mitchell & Dent

Mitchell and Dent is a bespoke stationer, producing beautiful and quirky cards and invitations out of Leederville, Western Australia; the brainchild of graphic artists Angela Mitchell and Leah Dent. Angela had studied fashion and textiles before settling on graphic design, and Leah was formerly  a high school music teacher. Their ‘silent’ partner, hiding behind a dramatic black and white floor-to-ceiling curtain in their studio, is their letter-press, 105 year old ‘Herbert’.

How did you meet and begin working together?
We met while studying graphic design at Central TAFE. We had a mutual admiration for each other’s work, as well as a shared love for nostalgia. We always knew that we wanted to work together but we also knew we needed to get experience in the field first. We worked in other design studios for a few years which was valuable in some ways, but exhausting and unsatisfying in others. We both felt that we wanted to do things differently, which is why we decided to set up Studio Bomba.

What’s different about Studio Bomba?
It’s a much more open, collaborative environment than you find in the larger studios – we work at one giant desk, sharing ideas constantly, and we deal directly with our clients, so it’s very much about relationships.

How did Mitchell and Dent come about?
Our Studio Bomba designs respond to our clients’ ideas and needs. The Mitchell and Dent line gives us the opportunity to express our creativity in ways that resonate with us personally.

What's included in the Mitchell & Dent range?
Our bridal range is really taking off. It includes printed, letterpress or bespoke stationery, and some couples really appreciate the value of having something different, something designed to reflect their day. But we also do birth announcements, engagements, special birthdays, corporate events etc

How did ‘Herbert’ come to join the team?
Our range already included letterpress stationery, but we were having it printed elsewhere. We found Herbie on e-Bay and had him shipped over from Victoria in a giant box which even included some dirty old cleaning rags! He’s a tricky little beastie and we’re learning as we go but we enjoy the craft of the print process and the element of surprise that comes with having so many variables.  Letterpress is more textural than other printing, and the cotton paper feels beautiful, lasts longer and allows for a greater impression.

Is Herbert a grumpy old man?
He’s very gentlemanly but he needs little adjustments. And he runs slowly – the paper has to be hand-fed. [Leah] My husband, Duncan feeds the paper in. He’s a bass player so he’s got good rhythm!

The language on your website is unusually playful and full of curious words. Who writes the copy?  
[Angela] That’s Leah. [Leah] I’m a huge reader and we keep a collection of words for the studio, divided into nouns, verbs, adverbs and sayings. Sometimes, we listen to Big George on BBC Radio Talkback. His show is in the wee small hours so the people who ring up are either nutters or drunk people. We get a few new words there!

Can you tell me about a particularly memorable mailbox of delight experience you’ve had?
[Angela] Can it include things you order on the internet? I was pretty excited when I received an Audrey Kawasaki print in the mail.

[Leah] When I was 9 years old I went on holiday to Busselton and made friends with a girl called Gemma Jones. We became pen pals. I lived on a farm and I was always begging my parents to drive into town to see if there was a letter from Gemma. Because it was the eighties it was all about smelly pens, different papers and Garfield stickers so her letters were always exciting to receive. After a few years we lost contact, but then last year, I emailed Outre Gallery in Melbourne to order a book, and received an email back from my old friend Gemma Jones! So we are now, once again pen pals, although this time the stationery is a bit more classy!

If you want to delight someone's mailbox, their online store is a great place to begin. 

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