Port West Stationers

Location 

Kent, UK

Which boxes are they in?

Nellie

Founded by

Khalifa & Shaun

Why we love them? 

Notebooks designed by architects are a joy to use. Every element, carefully considered.

 

Port West Stationery grew out of West Port, Khalifa Abubakar and Shaun Ihejetoh’s architecture firm. The pair first met studying architecture at Edinburgh and had remained friends throughout their twenties, through various underwhelming jobs at architecture firms. 

It was easy to get lost in the big firms, to spend your time drawing toilet cubicles, designing buildings for very rich clients with no real thought for the world around them. Architecture didn’t seem to have the same social conscience the pair had hoped it would at university. 

Their dream was a firm that cared about the things they did. Equity vs equality, sustainability, beauty, the social politics of spaces. Khalifa decided to do a masters in urban design and city planning hoping to learn more about how to make spaces that meant something, that conversed well with the world around them. Khalifa came away an even stronger believer in the power of creative thinking, in its ability to build resilience in cities and nations.

As Khalifa was finishing his masters, the pair set up their firm with their friend Colin Cheng in 2016, all drawn together by a shared belief in what good, well thought out architecture can achieve.  

The second part of the story begins with Khalifa and Shaun trying to find notebooks for their firm. At first they hoped to find a stationer who would print their logo on pre-existing notebooks. But the detail-oriented duo couldn’t find a notebook that matched their values. All the notebooks were printed on virgin paper and Khalifa and Shaun couldn’t understand why it was so hard to find well-designed ethically made notebooks. 

And so they decided to make their own. For Khalifa, as much as having ethical notebooks it was another way of acting out his values. He had always been interested in seeing other people’s notebooks, looking at their drawings and watching their ideas being generated. Notebooks were where cities and nations began, with people plotting out their hopes and dreams. 

These days Port West sits happily alongside its parent company, making distinctive curved edge notebooks with high quality recycled paper. Other than the paper, which is manufactured in Italy, all stages of the notebooks’ manufacture happen here, in the U.K. In both companies the duo remain driven by a commitment to the belief that great ideas should not be hard to come by.