The scent of cedarwood and persimmon envelops visitors on arrival at Papierladen Carta Pura, a Munich emporium dedicated to fine papers and related accoutrements sourced from around the world. Founded in 1985 by Jonathan Osthoff, the intimate, design-led shop sits in the city’s academic and arts area – three Pinakotheken (art museums) are in striking distance – drawing aesthetes, architects and artists who come in search of rare and unusual paper, as well as scissors, greeting cards or spools of satin ribbon in saturated hues of fuchsia, indigo and emerald.
Floor-to-ceiling racks line the walls, holding papers that are “curated by colour, pattern and texture, so that they speak to one another,” says Osthoff, while weightier varieties hide in sleek, white drawers. Neatly stacked shelves display albums, stitched books, pencil cases (€18) and a sculptural array of handmade boxes (from €25), each covered in Florentine Carta Varese or Japanese Chiyogami papers.
The knowledgeable staff – many of whom have been with Osthoff since the mid-1990s and who have designed items such as elastic-band folders when they couldn’t source their own – encourage customers to touch and feel the stock. Bestsellers include the Rivoli paper (€36 for 100 sheets of 120g A4), available in “a special light grey-pink tone that is out-of-this-world beautiful,” says Osthoff of a particular shade that harkens back to correspondence papers of the past. Among the most dazzling papers are artisanal Japanese offerings – stencil-dyed, silkscreen-printed Katazome varieties (€24) in exuberant geometric patterns; handmade, acid-free Kizuki and Nishino fine art papers (€8); and pure gold and silver Chiyogami silkscreen-printed papers (€18).
Carta Pura also does a strong line in cotton mould‑made papers (combining the consistency of machine-made paper with the character of handmade), supplied in varying weights for watercolours; the Ingres varieties by German maker Zerkall, ideal for charcoal drawing, feature uneven deckle edges. Elegant stationery – German bookbinding scissors (from €30), awls (€17), an exquisite Japanese brush pen (€55) and Czech Koh-I-Noor mechanical pencils and lead holders (from €6) – round out the shop’s niche offerings.
Bespoke commissions include unusual projects such as a love letter – “we talked the customer through writing his first missive, right down to the selection of card stock and pen” – and colourful catalogues for jewellery maison Hemmerle. “We love to advise about paper colour, thickness and which inks work best for each commission,” says Osthoff.
Central to the experience is an antique green till that sits in the middle of the shop and functions as “a piece of practical art,” says Osthoff. “People love the nostalgia that this register evokes, and while of course we can process credit cards, this machine helps to transport people to a different, simpler world.”