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12th December 2016

House of Paper: Inside the G . F Smith Show Space

Paper isn’t what it used to be. In the last 20 years, it has gone from being ubiquitous to something of a luxury, squeezed out of its dominant position as an everyday communication essential by the unstoppable march of digital. We don’t write letters; we make notes on our phones; our photos live online rather than in albums – paper is no longer a necessity in our lives.

All of which makes this seem like an odd time to open a space entirely dedicated to the material wonders of the stuff. Nevertheless, that’s precisely what G . F Smith has just done. 

Smack in the centre of London, just off Oxford Street, the Show Space is a two-storey temple to the creative possibilities of paper. Opening on 12 December, it spans 4,000sq ft of multitasking floorspace, acting as a gallery and exhibition venue, a consultancy studio, and a living testament to G . F Smith’s 130+-year history of innovation. 
According to Ben Parker of Made Thought, which was behind the design concept of the Show Space, the fact that paper is less important in everyday communication only makes it more precious and interesting. For him, there’s never been a better or more exciting time to launch an initiative like this:

“Paper does not compete with digital; paper offers something digital cannot. Paper can be used to create stand-out, difference and a more innate and deeper connection through touch and feel. So paper, print and creativity is a new branding frontier in the 21st Century – it feels really exciting as people understand paper’s value again.”

If you were ever in any doubt that paper can do spectacular things, one look at the window display at the Show Space should disabuse you of that notion. Rolls of Colorplan paper in a multitude of hues are captured as though in motion – hurled through the air from one end of the display to the other.  
Downstairs in the ‘White Space’, G . F Smith have transplanted ‘Tidal’, the installation they showcased in Jaipur earlier this year to mark Colorplan’s Indian launch. Here, the whole room, is flooded with an undulating paper seascape – a rainbow wave painted in Colorplan.

Upstairs, an eye-opening exhibition tells the story of G . F Smith’s collaboration with Mulberry, and reveals how the company faced the challenges of creating one of the most colour-saturated papers ever milled – Mulberry Green.
The exhibitions and installations in the Show Space will change throughout the year, but what remains constant is the centrepiece, a spectacular 14-metre Collection Wall, showcasing every paper G . F Smith has ever created or sourced – a visual and textural museum of the company’s product history. Around it, an array of stands uncover the processes behind some of G . F Smith’s landmark services – Make Frame and Make Book, as well as the chance to get up close and personal with each of the 50 Colorplan colours (soon to be 51 – more on that later). 

But you don’t just come to the Show Space to gawp at all the pretty paper; it’s also a place to turn for practical guidance and creative inspiration, whether you’re a luxury brand swanning in from Mayfair or a design maverick schlepping over from the East End. G . F Smith’s Paper Consultants are on hand to offer expertise, hands-on demonstrations and – literally – reams of ideas.

The only bad news is, you can’t just turn up – this is an appointment-only affair. So take our advice and make one.

Studio 3
De Beauvoir Block
92 De Beauvoir Road
N1 4EN

+44 (0)20 3735 5855