Milligram love to discover new stationery brands backed by makers with a vision and passion. So we’ve launched a new program where we want to bring you four new ranges each year from small makers – individuals who feel compelled to bring us something unique and special. Our first such range comes from stationery designer Zac Conway of Byron Bound. He harks from the gorgeous Byron Bay, Australia and we’re pleased to share a little more about Zac’s inspiration and the Byron Bound range.
What inspired you to launch Byron Bound?
I have always loved writing and the freedom to let your imagination truly wander upon a page. Years ago, I was writing every day, and getting very frustrated with the notebooks and journals that I had. They were mass produced with little love and the quality of the paper was poor, untextured, and too thin. I could not focus on my writing with such distracting materials to work with, so an idea struck: What if I made my own?
This was the beginning of a journey through bookbinding. I studied the oldest bindings to the newest; and had so much fun creating these books with the same imagination reserved for writing that I decided to turn it into a business! And so Byron Bound was born.
How did you learn the techniques required to create your notebooks?
Over the past few years I have acquired many old books documenting the oldest styles of binding and studied some of the best bookbinders around. Coptic stitch binding stood out to me as a superior and desirable binding in which I could learn and grow upon. This binding style was the very first developed for what they call a ‘Multi quire Codice’. These Codices utilised this beautiful overlapping exposed stitch which allows the books to lie completely flat on any page, whilst providing excellent strength and durability.
I have studied records analysing these codices found in tombs dating back 2000 years, in order to exactly replicate the binding, ensuring the best quality possible. And over 500 hand bound journals later, I still love binding this way.
What sort of considerations went into selecting your materials?
With these ancient bindings as inspiration, I decided to find an authentic and durable set of materials. I also wanted to develop a business with sustainable ideals, which supports Australian industry. With the challenge set, I embarked upon a many month journey to find the right materials, and stumbled across Hemp fabric for my covers, and Hemp twine for binding.
Hemp is a phenomenal fibre, with over a thousand uses. In regards to bookbinding, hemp fibre was used for the very first sheet of paper made in China millennia ago. As paper, the colour won’t fade. As fabric, it naturally repels bacteria and mould, is super strong, and sustainable above all, with 1/4 of the amount of water required per acre compared to that of cotton in its production.
Off to this sustainable start, I shortly found some unique, Australian made paper stock: Textured, weighted to perfection, and completely 100% recycled. What more could I ask for?
Byron Bay and surrounds tend to be favoured by creative people, why do you think that is?
We live in a very supportive community here which promotes creativity in all its forms. A simple walk down the Main Street will show you countless incredible musicians, artists displaying their works and a wonderful, multicultural, happy folk: all relaxed in and around the beach. The surf culture here relaxes everyone, you will struggle to find an unhappy person here. Within our creatively diverse shire, you are not ostracised for pursuing your dream, but instead supported and encouraged to think outside the box.
It’s no surprise that the Byron Shire has attracted many famous and creative folk to reside here.
Are there any other designers or stationery brands (or even non stationery businesses) that you admire, and why?
From a sustainable point of view, I am very fond of Patagonia, who have designed a type of wetsuit using natural bio rubbers (compared to neoprene) and in turn have made the technology openly available to other companies. I love this design model as it provides excellent products that help the environment, for the best price, open to everyone.
Within the stationery market, some of my favourite companies include O Check, Rifle Paper Co., Duomo, and naturally Field Notes. Each of these brands hold a unique design aesthetic which shows through in all their works. I admire these companies, and their approach to the field and the quality of their respective works is excellent and very appealing.
Where would you like to take Byron Bound in the coming year/what is your vision for your business?
Over the coming months I will be releasing various leather designs, as well as unique timber bound journals and notebooks. It’s very enjoyable coming up with new designs and working with various artists, exploring the endless possibilities within bookbinding.
Over time, I wish to grow and expand the business, gradually entering a global, niche market whilst retaining a completely sustainable design approach, avoiding mass production and retaining a hand crafted, specialty product for those that desire quality.
In time I plan to publish books, hand bound, as special editions for various international authors. All in all, I enjoy what I’m doing above all else: no happiness is comparable to that which I receive each and every day that I get to create something special for someone.