paperAs a fan of technology and a part of web development community I love to see the latest trends where businesses create solutions that help elminate paper trails or solve having those huge filing cabinets of invoices and paperwork. Companies like Enliven Software are at the forefront of these type of solutions.

But there’s another darker front that is also occuring. People are actually reading the printed word less and less these days. Newspapers and magazines which used to be quick reads are now being replaced by quick clicks over to the latest news websites or blogs. Twitter gives you that type of information instantly. Absolutely fantastic but what a sad world it will be when we have lost the experience of turning the pages of a good old book or magazine or digging through a newspaper and discovering little gems of articles hidden within the folds. The tacticle experience is something that just can’t be replaced virtually. Also that sense of wonder and nostalgia with older books as your browse that old antique book store. Not staring a dead screen but hold a nice leather bound book with some worn paper.

I recently visited a paper store in Ann Arbor called “Hollanders.”  They have a viariety of decorative and commerical papers for artists and printers as well as book binding supplies and unique gifts. I’d forgotten how wonderful different papers are. Intricate package designs with unique paper stock give such personality to a design piece and a whole different creative layer to your design work. You simply don’t get that in a web design or downloadable PDF. The hand made papers are especially impressive where they actually put leaves into the fabric threads of the paper. Each piece of paper is intricately unique and begs to be felt and examined closely. The vibrancy of colors and pigments in combination with texture are a more visceral experience that we’re continuing to lose upon each generation after us and that experience can’t be recreated in a design program.

I admit myself that I don’t read a good book as much as I’d like and I will continue to try to read paperbacks more often now as I feel inspired by the tradition of paper again and it’s craftsmanship. Technology can be cold but when we work with materials and paints and papers we get back in touch with our humanity a bit more. It’s something that we can all connect to across different societies and languages. So next time you see some interesting paper texture stop and examine it closer and appreciate it, It’s a fading art form.

Below are some samples of the paper from Hollander’s that I took photos of. If you are ever in downtown Ann Arbor I highly suggest you stop in.