Today, G . F Smith will open a door on Eastcastle Street, W1, to a fascinating new space dedicated to celebrating the visual and tactile experience of paper.
Housed across two floors in an elegant dark-grey building just off Oxford Street, the striking multipurpose Show Space will be a place to meet the paper consultants; act as an event and exhibition venue, and offer an immersive insight into the company’s remarkable products and history.
For the papermakers and curators of G . F Smith, Show Space marks the beginning of a new chapter in its 131-year story, and gives the company a unique central London venue to explore and share the possibilities of paper with its audience of designers, luxury brands and anyone passionate about the creative power of print.
Against an ever-changing backdrop of displays and exhibitions, G . F Smith will share its decades of expertise with visiting brand owners and creatives, whether offering guidance about print, developing brand-bespoke papers or simply walking them through the sheer scope and scale of the G . F Smith Collection.
Show Space is an entry point into all of the industry-leading specialist services G . F Smith provides, with areas devoted to telling the stories behind the hand-made photo-books of Make Book, the custom digital-image framing facility of Make Frame, and the 50 colours of the core Colorplan range.
Brands and designers looking to explore the influence of colour and texture in their printed communications and consumer touch points will be able to discover the astonishing possibilities paper can offer – and find new ways of pushing their creative boundaries.
The architectural concept and creative direction of the 4,000 square feet Show Space has been developed by long-term G . F Smith creative partner Made Thought, and designed in collaboration with architects d-raw.
Bold, contemporary and engineered to keep paper centre-stage, the space has a dark grey palette matched to one of the most popular Colorplan shades, and designed to provide the perfect backdrop to showcase the visual and textural subtleties of paper.
At the heart of Show Space, the 14-metre Collection Wall presents every paper G . F Smith has created or discovered, spanning every shade in the iconic Colorplan range to the most precious, technologically advanced and unique papers from around the world – sourced everywhere from the Lake District to Japan.
Downstairs, the White Space gallery presents a shifting series of exhibitions, ranging from creative takeovers from partner brands and designers to illuminating insights into art and science of paper-making. At launch, the gallery will host an installation entitled Tidal, the ocean-themed G . F Smith contribution to Kyoorius Designyatra festival, held in the pink city of Jaipur in September, to mark the launch of Colorplan in India.
Designed by Made Thought, the installation fills the space with a spectacularly colourful undulating seascape created in vertically installed rolls of Colorplan paper.
Meanwhile, Turbulence is Show Space’s equally eye-catching window installation, inspired by air, echoes and intensifies this riot of colour, where rods of coloured paper are seemingly hurled from one end to the other, creating an explosive and dynamic visual effect.
John Haslam, Joint Managing Director, G . F Smith, said: “G . F Smith has always had the desire and ambition to inspire the creative world and Show Space is yet another landmark moment in our phenomenal history. We wanted to create a space that challenges, inspires and wows.
"Students and creative directors alike will be welcome to visit us; we promise innovation and education with our ever-changing curated installations and showcases. Beautiful paper has the power to sway decision, the authority to communicate emotion, the tactility to hold your attention.”
Show Space opens with an exhibition offering an insight into the tools and techniques behind the development of a signature paper: Mulberry Green. G . F Smith created a Colorplan Bespoke paper for the beloved British fashion brand – this exhibition tells the story of the collaboration, detailing the sheer technical feat of achieving such a highly saturated green tone while maintaining the fine quality of the paper.
Alongside a showcase of Mulberry Green paper, products and packaging, a film directed by the award-winning Ben Stevenson and narrated by Mulberry Creative Director Johnny Coca lifts the lid on the journey of Mulberry Green from idea to reality.
The Mulberry Green exhibition will run for three months, after which it will be replaced by another paper-led project showcase with a G . F Smith creative partner, featuring high-impact photography and progressive design from some of the most respected names in their fields.
Via Creative Boom submission | All photography by Guy Archard