As you’ve probably already noticed, we at Book Therapy are mad about stationery from Thie Studios, a Hamburg based design studio run by internationally recognized mastermind Katja Kirchner.
Katja, what was the initial idea behind Thie Studios?
Sorry, there is no great story waiting, like “it has been always my dream...” Founding Thie Studios happened a bit by chance after working several years as an art director and designer in a big German advertising agency. Anyone with an affinity for design who has ever stood in front of a greeting card shelf knows the dilemma: There is an insane amount of choice. But it is also maddening, because you have the choice between old-fashioned, tacky, overloaded, childlike and lovingly illustrated cards or cards with extremely dubious humour. In some cases, you even find everything mixed in one card. Modernity paired with a sense of style was hard to find in commercial stationery at that point in time. I wanted to change that and thought it’s an idea, which is quite easy to implement from the start.
I wanted to design minimalistic and high-quality greeting cards...
With the attempt to offer something new and unseen, the initial idea was to use only geometric shapes always with the aim less is more. I liked the idea to tell a typical greeting card story through abstraction. I wanted to design minimalistic and high-quality greeting cards, which can be treated like a little piece of art. So that you want to keep it, because it is too special to end up in the trash.
What do you feel are the main aspects that make your products stand out?
Thie Studios’ approach is to shake up the mainstream boredom of the greeting card scene with a style that fits the zeitgeist of design-affine people. The stationery is minimalistic, timeless, young and distinctive – while still serving all important themes and occasions. It comes very often with a twinkle in the eye and a subtle sense of humour or an outstanding idea behind it. Our aim is to have a contemporary reference with influences and quotes from pop culture, design and fashion.
What achievement of Thie Studios are you the most proud of?
Of course, I’m generally proud that Thie Studios is so well-liked and appreciated by our customers and retailers over the years. But my personal highlight was, when we got an enquiry pretty much at the beginning of Thie Studios in 2017 from the legendary Colette in Paris. Having our little pieces on the shelves at Colette was our guarantee that we are on the right track to offer something extraordinary. Even if it is “just” stationery.
By the way it was also in 2017 when we met Jiří, the husband of Petra and co-founder of Book Therapy, on a trade show. This was also the beginning of our very warm business relationship which we appreciate a lot ever since.
Your products are not only beautiful, but also eco-friendly. Has there been any big challenge on the way?
For our eco-friendly products it’s always a big challenge to produce without compromising on style and appearance. It has been a long process finding a premium recycling paper with the right shade of white and pleasant haptics. As well as finding the best and environmentally conscious way of printing which is still profitable. But I guess especially with everyday products and disposable products it is imperative to keep an eye on the important topic of sustainability and our limited resources. Therefore, we also spend a lot of time in paying particular attention to the entire production process.
What do you love the most about your job?
What I love the most is the feeling that I get after I had a new and unseen idea. Even though it sometimes happens that I reach a point where I’m afraid whether it is still possible to create something novel and minimalistic out of geometric shapes. Because with this abstract visualisation, designing is often limited. And of course, I always want to remain true to my reduced and abstract style and that is sometimes quite difficult. That’s why I’m a bit surprised myself when a new collection is created once more and holding finally happy in my hands.
I always want to remain true to my reduced and abstract style
Going on trade fairs has also always been a very enjoyable part of my work. As many other aspects of our daily lives and the way we do business, this chance to directly interact with customers and colleagues has sadly not been possible due to the pandemic. Therefore, it seems to be unfortunately quite forgotten in the meantime. But this was definitely a part of my job which I liked a lot. Even if it was always a very tough and stressful time. It is so much fun to meet our present and new retailers personally. To see the smiles and chuckles on their faces when they look at the new collection for the very first time is such beautiful feedback which I miss a lot. Since then, we mainly get the feedback when it comes to new orders. Of course, I’m smiling too with every incoming order – while sitting at home on the couch. (smiles)
And one book question: Do you judge a book by its cover?
Yes! I definitely judge a book by its cover and a bottle of wine by its label. Shame on me. But isn’t this the main problem of every designer?