⟨ Misc ⟩

POSTALCO

Analog tools. The coexistence of sentimentality and rationality

Words / P Yue
Photography / Courtesy of POSTALCO
Translation / Iris Heung

每每看到網上關於「類比」與「數位」的討論,離不開是感性對決理性的套路,感覺好像喜愛類比工具的人,都只管情懷不理實用性,而這實在是太冤枉了。為甚麼類比工具的愛用者,就不能是情感與理性的融合呢?

今天要介紹的POSTALCO,是成立於2000年的生活用具品牌,主理人Mike Abelson偏好於布料,皮革和紙張等材料,而在其日常生活中,也堅持以紙和筆,作為記錄生活和設計時的媒介,是個十足的類比派。在他設計的生活用具中,既充滿理性的設計巧思,同時不失對經典設計樣式,以及傳統物料的情懷。

Whenever I see netizens debating whether analog or digital is better, I feel like the arguments very often fall into the binary opposition of “sentimental” and “rational”. Why do we tend to assume people who prefer analog tools are weighing sentimental value more than practicality? It is a total misconception to think that analog users cannot maintain a balance between sentimentality and rationality.

POSTALCO is a brand founded in 2000, specializing in stationery and leather goods. The co-founder Mike Abelson likes using fabric, leather, and paper as his creative medium. In his personal life, he insists on using pen and paper to document his daily happenings and his creative ideas. Looking at this persistence, it is rather natural to regard him as an analog person. Looking at POSTALCO’s everyday objects, they are surely products of practicality that take in countless rationally designed details. Yet simultaneously, the classic designs exude the brand’s sentiments towards traditional materials.

以小信鴿為品牌標誌,正正對應了品牌從布魯克林轉移至東京的「遷徙」。

Using a carrier pigeon as the brand logo echoes with the brand’s story from Brooklyn to Tokyo.

以一隻小信鴿為品牌標誌,POSTALCO經常被誤會是日本原生品牌,實際上卻是由美國設計師Mike在布魯克林成立,後來Mike隨妻子Yuri喬遷東京,這個品牌才在日本落地生根、發揚光大。在這裡特別提起太太Yuri,全因品牌的起源,正是Mike與Yuri這對設計系夫妻的恩愛故事。

當時Yuri在紐約從事平面設計工作,經常為了要帶著一疊累贅的A4設計原稿而煩惱不已,Mike則貼心以自己喜愛的布和皮革,打造出一個紙張收納袋,也就是品牌首件商品「Legalenvelope」的原形。其後Mike一不做二不休,索性推出自家品牌,以收納袋和手帳產品為品牌的商品主軸。

POSTALCO’s brand logo is a carrier pigeon. Many would easily mistake POSTALCO as a Japanese brand, but it was actually co-founded by the American designer Mike Abelson in Brooklyn. The brand moved its base to Tokyo only when Mike decided to move to Tokyo with his wife, Yuri. Who is Yuri? She is the other co-founder of the brand. It was the love story of this designer couple that gave birth to this beautiful brand, POSTALCO.

Back then, Yuri worked as a graphic designer in New York. Like many other graphic designers, Yuri found carrying decks of presentation pages around to visit the clients a rather unpleasant part of her job. Mike, therefore, made a document case for her using leather and fabric. This document case has eventually become the brand’s first product, the Legal Envelope. Mike then launched POSTALCO, which specializes in everyday objects like cardholders, cases, and bags.

Legalenvelope是品牌的首件商品,也是Mike為愛妻Yuri解決生活難題的信物。
The Legal Envelope is the brand’s first product; it was also a gift Mike made for his wife, Yuri, to make her life easier.

開頭提到Mike仍堅持以紙和筆,以作為設計工作的媒介,這除卻感性的理由,倒是他認為靈感到來時,只要打開手帳,就可以盡情書寫和繪圖。不像手機和平板受限於電力,還要忍受開機解鎖等拖延靈感的障礙。而因為愛用各式紙張記錄,包括影印紙、回收紙和宣傳單張等紙類,於是他開發了POSTALCO的另一名作「SNAP PAD」,這款可以自行訂裝各種紙類的商品。

而為求提高紙張的耐用性,「SNAP PAD」及其他POSTALCO的手帳產品,均壓附上一層撥水棉纖,提供輕度防潑水之餘,更會隨著年月而淡化,添加歲月痕跡,成為品牌文具類商品的特色之一。

Is Mike sketching out his designs with pen and paper just because he is an old school person? Apart from the sentiment he has with these analog tools, he also finds it a more practical way of noting down inspirations. Opening a notebook to start writing or drawing is, to Mike, more convenient. He does not need to be worried about the electronic devices running out of battery, or let the sudden inspiration be forgotten while unlocking the device. Another signature product of POSTALCO, the Snap Pad, is a result of his preference for pen and paper. With this paper board, one can easily reuse all types of scrap papers that are printed on one side and pin them together into a notebook.

POSTALCO’s paper products, including Snap Pads, all have a layer of starch-pressed cotton bonded to the cover. The colors of this water-resistant fabric will lighten with use.

「SNAP PAD」的開發來自於Mike使用各式各類的紙張,可以把雜亂的思緒統整起來。
The Snap Pad is inspired by Mike’s habit of reusing scrap paper. Scrap paper flying around randomly can be held together systematically by this notepaper cover.

不過隨著時間的推移,POSTALCO已不滿足於只生產文具,以及皮革、帆布包商品,野心逐漸擴展到服飾等的類別。近來最讓我怦然心跳的,可是「FREE ARM RAIN JACKET」這系列的雨衣商品。

啟發自十九世紀末夏威夷甘蔗工人的裝束,其無肩線的設計,不僅看來更簡約俐落,提供優良的運動性,也使揹背包時來得更舒適。此外,外套使用Shear-Dry加工技術,比一般防潑水性更耐用,也帶來高科技物料通常缺乏的透氣性,是一件表現優異的日常雨具商品。

While POSTALCO started with mainly stationery and leather and canvas goods, they certainly are more ambitious than staying with only the existing lines of products. The brand has recently started to launch their own clothing line, among which their Free Arm Rain Jacket is definitely the item that fascinates me the most.

Inspired by the rainwear worn by Japanese workers harvesting sugarcane in Hawaii in the late nineteenth century, the rain jacket is designed without shoulder seams. Not only does this give a clean design, but it is also more comfortable when wearing a backpack and makes it a suitable outfit for outdoor exercise. The rain jacket is produced with Shear-Dry nylon, which is more durable than other water-resistant fabrics. When compared to the hi-tech material, Shear-Dry nylon is also more breathable. With the sleek design and high-quality material, Free Arm Rain Jacket is surely a product that exceeds the functionality of regular rainwear.

無肩線設計使外套看來更俐落,也為雙臂提供更好的活動性。
Taking away shoulder seams gives the rain jacket a sleek outlook and allows ease of movement.

從收納袋到手帳,又擴充到服飾領域,品牌表現出的似乎是一套生活哲學。如果老派的方法管用,何況把這種基礎發揚光大;滿足老派情懷的同時,也不等於要犧牲生活的便利;當人們再談論起,感性與理性的對決時,POSTALCO的答覆是:為何不能兩者兼得呢?

POSTALCO produces a wide range of products from cases to notebooks to even clothing. All these products have one thing in common – they are promoting a lifestyle philosophy that embraces traditional designs that are highly functional and practical. The brand is satisfying the needs of the nostalgic ones, without sacrificing efficiency and practicality. If someone asks once again whether sentimentality or rationality should be the way to go, POSTALCO can confidently answer, why can’t we have both?