Photos by Fabrice Fortin for Paris By Appointment Only™
You’d think that gorgeous paper goods would be extinct by now. But one of the amazing side effects of our plugged-in lifestyle is a renewed craving for objects that are pleasantly tactile and reassuringly permanent.
No better sign o’ the times is the rising success of Intaglio, an independent printing press based in Paris.
A couture paper company with the friendly appeal of a neighborhood candy store, Intaglio (which means ‘engraving’ in Italian) is owned by Stephan Le Sauter and his wife, Anne. Together the affable duo has turned the rare art of foil stamping (an inkless printing process that permanently presses pigment into paper using weight and heat) into stationery so sophisticated and stylish you wonder how you’ve ever lived without it!
“Our designs are really influenced by the technique,” says Stephan, who learned the tricks of the trade while working at a printing press in San Francisco after college. “My roommate got me a job taking care of the paper stock. After a couple of months I was doing my job in three hours. The rest of my time I spent learning how to engrave,” explains Stephan, who returned to Paris after three years in California to round out his education with three French master craftsmen.
Unlike his tutors, Meilleurs Ouvriers de France committed to perpetuating classic French graphics, Stephan decided to combine age-old techniques with modern typography for a twist on tradition.
“An attractive letter, printed on 100% cotton paper by foil stamping is really one of the most beautiful things. It’s small, but its impact is huge.”
Instead of classical curlicues and frou frou detailing, he proposed chic, understated fonts and designs on luxurious, impeccably printed paper. From the second he placed his inaugural card (his son’s birth announcement) in his shop window in 1996, he realized he had tapped into something. “One mother came in, then another,” remembers Stephan. “And I realized that I could do it the old-fashioned way and become a printer for everybody’s needs.”
His flagship, offices and printing press now take up an entire street in the quiet corner of Paris’ 17th arrondissment where he and his family live. While a second shop, located near the Luxembourg gardens in the space that APC used to occupy, opened last fall.
From wedding invites and birth announcements to business cards and thank you notes, every Intaglio design is made-to-measure. After you choose your typeface, layout, paper stock, and letter pigment, a magnesium foil stamp die (carved metal plate) is made with your design. The plate is then hand finished and placed in an original Heidleberger machine where it seizes, heats and depresses pigment, producing a permanent de-bossed lettering without the use of any ink. If you’d like an embossed detail added, Intaglio has a battalion of hand-engraved stamps to choose from, too.
In addition to their custom products, Intaglio also sells ready-to-wear collections of artisanal cards, notebooks and paper towers at both of their Paris locations. But be warned: one visit to their shop and every other paper thereafter will pail in comparison.
That’s why my order’s on its way.
Intaglio: 3 rue de Fleurus, 75006 and 91 rue Lemercier, 75017
Prices: Greeting Cards (€3/piece), Business Cards (€150 for 100), Birth Announcements (€300 for 100 w/envelops) Wedding Invites (starting at €5/piece)