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23 May 2014 – French Savoir-Faire

LCK reinvents stationery

La Compagnie du Kraft

Béatrice Delamotte

It all started with a chance encounter, between Nicolas Recoing and an old forester’s notebook in a beautiful house in Landes.

The story might have ended there, but this thunderbolt gave birth to the La Compagnie du Kraft. Leaving the conception and the commercialisation of the technical software to the CAC 40 companies, they took it upon themselves to embark on an adventure. “When I took over this factory that was founded in 1930, I had no strategic or economic vision,” he admits. A lack of preparation that was nearly fatal to the company, up until an order from merci and Le Labo came through asking them to design a scented book. From there, the success was immediate.

“La Compagnie du Kraft is the most unproductive manufacturer of notebooks in the Western world,” boasts Nicolas Recoing with a twinkle in his eye. “This is part of its charm!”.

From the print shop to the making of notebooks for foresters and butchers, everything had remained unchanged for nearly a century. And then, a change fell upon the atelier: 1960s machines and lead block letters. Although the workshop is mechanized, there is very little space and the method is paradoxically very delicate. Made by typographers who are very sure of their art, but whose actions may seem hesitant, La Compagnie du Kraft makes the most beautiful books in a somewhat surreal atmosphere.

“Our notebooks are fully assembled by hand in our workshop. They are indestructible, but rechargeable. And customizable from the first stage,” says Nicolas Recoing.

At the store’s “notebook bar”, the client chooses the cover, the inner paper (white or yellow), color of elastic, the type of binding…Before finally customizing the interior with a phrase, for example your cat’s email address or a heartfelt quote. The covers are made from naturally dyed kraft – just like the original notebooks used by Landes foresters of the early twentieth century – in an air chamber in a recycled truck for a more urban look or luxuriously covered in vegetable leather from Aveyron. Each book is unique and reflects the personality of its owner. A simple and beautiful luxury!

Notebooks La Compagnie du Kraft are keeping with the times and seem to improve with age. © Sophie Brandström

Many manipulations are necessary for the function of the books . © Sophie Brandström

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