Founded in Matosinhos, Portugal, mishmash is a stationary brand defined by high-quality products, a variety of sizing options, and creative collaborations. They’ve recently worked with Guggenheim museum to produce a notebook inspired by Swedish abstract expressionist Himla af Klint, and have worked with brands such as antalis, The Art of Plating, Porto Design Biennale, and COS Stores.
Their minimalist, design-led take on notebooks is a treat for those of us who delight in taking pen to paper, and who are inspired by the promise of a blank page. Sure, we have lots of digital devices these days, but is there anything better than cracking the spine of a new notebook?
We spoke with mishmash founder and Creative Director Beatriz Barros about the design process, minimalist aesthetics, and what makes a good notebook:
Tell us about the inspiration for mishmash
The seeds of mishmash were planted in my childhood. My grandfather had a popular stationery shop in the 90s, and I spent my childhood there, amongst the smell of all those different types of paper. Later, I decided to mix my design degree with my passion: office items.
When did you start mishmash? What was the process of starting your company like?
We started thinking about mishmash in late 2014, but we only opened the company in June 2015. In September 2015, we launched our Kickstarter campaign. The process of opening a company was hectic. But to be honest, the processes seemed more difficult than they actually were, because I was totally immersed in it.
Please talk about your sourcing and production practices. Is it hard to source materials? Is it something that changes often?
Sourcing and production are a natural offshoot of being a designer. We decided to start with notebooks because, aside from being passionate about them, the production is easy to control. As a designer, one of my specializations was editorial design. Binding and paper research was something I already did on a daily basis. When we started, I thought I knew a lot, but three years on I’ve realised that this type of technical learning never ends; I am always discovering new information. The important thing to note regarding production is that we are always learning.
All mishmash products are made in Portugal. Being close to our suppliers is something we value, and we know that the relationship we have with them allows us to make the products so high-quality. We have a handful of suppliers for each particular part of the notebook. It can be quite hard to manage all of them at times, but we wouldn’t change it for anything.
What are the characteristics of a good notebook? What are the considerations that go in to designing them?
It is really a matter of taste. For me, a notebook needs to stimulate me. I need to have different sizes, types of paper, and textures. I don’t like plain notebooks with a nice cover; that’s boring and doesn’t represent my personality at all. Function and purpose are a key in the development of our products.
As we increasingly have more options for recording memories or calendar reminders from our computer, phone, etc, what continues to make notebooks relevant? Do you think they’ll ever be obsolete?
I consider myself a technological person and I make the most of digital tools. I have my full calendar on the cloud and can’t imagine life without these things helping me build a meaningful brand.
That said, I can’t develop a product looking at a screen. There’s someting about creative thinking that just isn’t possible to run on a screen; I need a pen and paper. That keeps me believe that notebooks will never be out of style.
How should a person using a mishmash product feel?
A person using our products should feel empowered to believe in his or her dreams, and just go for it. We believe mishmash products are tools to build something bigger.
What is your perception of Scandinavian style or aesthetic?
Scandinavian aesthetic is minimal, thoughtful, clean. Less is more.
Do you agree that your brand is a “Scandi Dandy?” Why or why not?
I am inspired by the Scandinavian aesthetic, and since I can’t distance the brand from my own influences, I would say yes!
Where can people find mishmash products?
You can find them online, or all over the world in over 100 stores.