As part of our ongoing Factory Friday series, we are delving into the stories behind some of the Scottish Manufacturers on the Make Works Directory. This week, we've interviewed Colin Kirkwood, Director at Piccolo Press, a bespoke printing press in Nairn, specialising in high quality stationery.
Who is the typical client that comes to Piccolo Press?
We are a bespoke printer and people come to us to turn their concepts into printed reality so by their very nature every job is different which is what makes the work we do so interesting and often challenging.
I would typify the categories of client we have as follows: brides looking for (mostly traditional) invitations or suites of wedding stationery in which the type colour matches the bevelled edges on the invitations which are held together with a silk ribbon in the same colour and inserted into an envelope lined with issue paper also in the same colour; livery companies looking to diestamp their arms on heavy card with rounded, gilded edges for subsequent overprinting with invitation information for smart dinners; designers wanting to produce fabulously thick and distinguished letterpressed and duplexed business cards for their clients; ladies in the country who have just moved house and want some correspondence cards headed with their new address.
What’s it like running a press in Nairn?
Not terribly different from running a press anywhere else I imagine although our somewhat unlikely location seems to lend a certain charm to the business – “cottage industry meets industrial craftsmanship in a business supplying beautiful printed ephemera to customers throughout the UK and the world”. I think our location in the north of Scotland is intriguing to customers but also somehow lends it elements of authenticity and trustworthiness which may be perceived as being absent from online printing businesses which appear to exist only on the internet. Our customers need to discuss the nuances of their requirements with a human being and are reassured by the idea of our supplying Bond Street quality and personal service with Harbour Street overheads.
Where can we see your work out in the world?
Get yourself invited to a livery company dinner or an embassy garden party, play golf at Castle Stuart or Trump International, get onto the R & A’s Christmas card list, become a member of the Carnegie Club at Skibo or go to a smart wedding anywhere in the UK!
What has been Piccolo's most defining recent project?
Probably all the stationery for guests at this year’s Qatar Goodwood meeting which involved several separate diestamped invitations in silver, claret, yellow and red with bevelled coloured or gilded edges, embossed race card covers, notecards, correspondence cards and other stationery – all to a very tight deadline.
How do you see the bespoke stationery printing industry evolving over the coming years?
Letterpress has enjoyed a revival in the UK and the US in recent years and I expect to see that continue with designers in particular pointing their clients towards it for some of their printed collateral, but also for their own business stationery where the client appreciates the importance of the impression made by their letterhead or business card. While far fewer letters are sent these days, those that are tend to be of a higher value and importance; businesses should consider the cost of the time put in to composing and sending a letter and then put the cost of the stationery on which it is sent in that context – the medium is definitely part of the message.
Also when guests receive a beautiful invitation on heavy card such as Piccolo produces and which has been created specially for the occasion, they will be under no illusion that this is going to be a party worth going to!
Diestamping remains a very niche, purist process mainly for the luxury market but Piccolo has just put a young man through a diestamping apprenticeship and we have sufficient work to keep him fully occupied so the demand is there for this too and the results are of unparalleled quality and distinction.
We are anticipating growth too in our personal stationery business and are just about to launch an ecommerce section on our website for ordering correspondence cards and writing paper.