Alessia Resta, founder of the blog and online shop Apartment Botanist, is a proudly self-professed “plant parent,” who shares her Manhattan apartment with her boyfriend, two dogs, and more than 175 houseplants. Here, she tells us about her rituals of caring for and communing with plants, and why many other millennials and Gen-Zers are nurturing their green thumbs in an age of uncertainty.
When did you first start getting into plants?
I work from home and run my own company, and wanted to take on a hobby that could just be for fun, and that I could geek out to. I’ve always had plants in my apartment—we’ve been here for almost eight years now—and with all of the natural sunlight we get in here, I just couldn’t wait to get more. At first, I mainly had terrariums with cacti and succulents, and I wanted to start understanding where they came from, and to really understand what their primal care needs were. I started delving into research on Google, and thought, “Oh, wouldn’t it be kind of funny if I started collecting really rare plants and challenged myself to keep them in a New York City apartment?” That’s how Apartment Botanist, which I founded in 2017, came about.
At last count, you were up to more than 175 plants—I imagine you won’t be moving any time soon. What’s your day-to-day like, in terms of caring for and maintaining your growing collection?
I always think, “Oh my gosh, if we ever have to move, it’s literally going to just be several days of just moving the plants. It’s gonna be so intense.” [Laughs] Caring for them is actually not too bad—I mean, watering does take a while, but it’s a little bit of a self-care routine because I have to find a way to answer to something: I have to be here to take care of my plants and make sure they’re okay, and I have to make sure I’m organized and scheduled so that I have time set aside for my plants.
It can seem like a drag, because sometimes it takes so long, usually a few hours each time, but once you start watering the plants and getting into it, it’s actually really relaxing. I just take time to see if each one is growing, or maybe needs to be trimmed back, or isn’t doing well and needs to be set aside and figured out. So it’s a little tedious, but as the collection grows, you kind of get into the habit and it doesn’t become as tough. If there’s a pest breakout, those moments of crisis control are definitely the downside, but in terms of watering and checking in on each plant, that’s the nicer part: to actually slow down, and take time with them.
Are there ways to “feel” if a plant is doing well?
Absolutely, especially when I’m watering. My morning routine is just to observe the plants and make sure everything’s okay and looks okay, and that involves a lot of touching. Also, if I’m very excited about a plant or [when] a new leaf unfurls, I love to just gently touch it because it just feels different when it’s a fresh leaf, before it starts to harden into its mature form. Some of my plants are velvety, some are thicker and some are thin. A lot of spending time with plants is completely sensory. It’s just nice to feel that variety and form a connection.
Would you say it’s more of an intuitive process at this point?
Sometimes I can tell if one of them needs to be watered just by touching it, because the leaf feels … not dry, not dehydrated, but a little like, lacking in its leaf meat, if that makes sense. It’s hard to explain. I guess you could say it felt “half-hydrated.” It’s funny, my friend—and I actually just posted this YouTube video where she blindfolded me—brought me a bunch of plants from my collection, and tested to see if I could tell which plant was which by touching them. [Laughs] I have to say, I did pretty well! But I was actually kind bummed that I got a few wrong.
You have these intuitions that develop, the more time you spend with plants. I always say people have their own superpowers. I guess plants have become a little superpower for me.
A lot of folks have pegged the houseplant trend as a millennial and Gen-Z thing—why do you think that is?
That’s tough because I can’t answer for everyone, but for me, when I get down to the nitty gritty of why I brought plants into my space, the simple answer is: I just wanted it to feel like a home. Having living things, and having something to care for, made it all feel more homey, and then it tied into other interests and curiosities around how things work, interior design, and just nesting in general—and in a feasible way that seemed within reach. My generation can’t necessarily afford a house and a lot of other things our parents could do back in the day, when they were in their twenties. It’s a lot different now. I feel like people who are in the plant community really want to feel that sense of homey-ness, and especially speaking to those in the city, they want to feel closer to nature. I’ve basically turned all of my friends and family into plant people. They wouldn’t consider themselves that, but I’ve definitely turned them. 🌱
Last week, the Earth slid between the moon and sun, inciting a heady lunar eclipse that transformed our usual relationshManitoga, a stunning midcentury home turned design center that’s nestled between a granite quarry and a mossy slope in upstate NDesigning Nature” (through November 14). Fittingly, the first piece visitors encounter is the Eclipse Ceiling Lamp, designed by the contFormafantasma in 2016, which casts new, entrancing light on its surroundings.
Nestled in a cozy pocket of Newburgh, in New York’s Hudson Valley, is an architectural gem designed in 1949 by Philip Jograppling with how to address Johnson’s legacy in the aftermath of his fascist views becoming more widely known—the property was purchased and restored by Jiminie Ha,With Projects, and art director Jeremy Parker. Determined to establish the residence as a symbol of inclusivity, the two have reimagiWolfhouse, a community-focused cultural space and incubator with public programming centered around art, architecture, and design
Squares, with their even proportions and sharp corners, evoke a sense of honest, hard-edged rationality. The shape has dKvadrat, the 54-year-old Danish textile company known for its forward-looking, often vibrant fabrics and artistic collaboration
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If you look around your living space, there’s a good chance that all the furniture in it is designed for adult use and cNalata Nalata’s upcoming exhibition, “Starter Chair” (May 14–22), celebrates furniture that was lovingly made on a different scale—one specifically for children.
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Stefan Sagmeister is a contemporary polymath. Following his curiosity through many forms, the Austrian-born, New York–baobjects, installations, and participatory artworks throughout his decades-long career. (Sagmeister speaks about some of these projects and others on Ep. 8 of our Time Sensitive podcast, and on Ep.106 of our At a Distance podcast.) While his output, at first glance, might appear to move wildly between subjects, a closer look reveals a consistent i
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From the looks of things, physical retail may well be losing out to e-commerce (and perhaps soon, shopping in the metaverse). But a comeback for brick-and-mortar stores appears to be on the horizon, and if the architects at the Paris-based firm Moinard Bétaill
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Clothing designed to endure such harsh conditions as sub-zero temperatures, damp romps in rainforests, or icy traipses tEp. 69 of our At a Distance podcast.
While fashion brands often design their garments based on fleeting trends, twin brothers and athletes Nick and Steve TidVollebak, with a more certain future in mind: one that involves environmental threats and the continued exploration of space, an
There is something universally comforting—deeply intoxicating, even—about petting a soft, warm coat, deep with pile. MayFuwa Fuwa ( “fuzzy,” in Japanese): “I reach out to touch the fluffy, soft fur, gently run my hand over the broad nape of the neck
2014 may have been the year of the booty, but it took me six cold and less-than-sterile more (plus 2020’s lockdown) to get mine into the warm seat of a Toto Washlet C200, my top pick in this rotund—or rather, well-rounded—assortment of bidet toilet-seat attachments—and love-letter the for
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Despite being among the most abundant tree species in Finland, pine has been largely overlooked and underutilized as a fVaarnii seeks to revive the use of pine in furniture making, and with it, forge a new era in Finnish design that celebrates the
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Before fast fashion became the norm, children typically learned how to make their own clothes, often from their parents Almaborealis, a line of D.I.Y. sewing kits that teach kids the value of creating garments that last.
A Digital Museum Tells Time-Honored Stories of the Indian Subcontinent Through Everyday Objects and Family Heirlooms
A gold dial Titan quartz wristwatch with a worn-out brown leather strap. A 32-caliber Colt pistol. A dekchi, or brass cooking pot for cooking the traditional rice dish biryani. A signed letter from Mother Teresa. An Imperial Bank of India checkbook. These are but five items in the collection ofMuseum of Material Memory, an online repository of objects from across the Indian subcontinent, dating from or before the 1970s, including books,
Those who have come to embrace CBD—short for cannabidiol, a chemical abundant in the cannabis plant that, unlike its sibEpidiolex, to treat rare seizure disorders; the majority of scientific studies on the chemical have been conducted on animals.) T$16 billion by 2025, fueled by users who report relief from afflictions including anxiety, depression, and stress. So it seems only natural
For Lorne M. Buchman, president of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, the creative process rarely conYves Béhar, Paula Scher, and Frank Gehry, as well as companies such as Apple and Tesla, attest to such experiences in Buchman’s neMake to Know: From Spaces of Uncertainty to Creative Discovery (Thames & Hudson), as archetypes that demonstrate the value of embracing the unknown as a way to unleash new ideas.
A Fashion Designer Transforms Deadstock Textiles and Upcycled Sleeping Bags Into Wearable Life-Saving Shelters
While producing a line of luxury outerwear, Dutch fashion designer Bas Timmer learned that the homeless father of two ofSheltersuit Foundation as a means of producing the pieces on a larger scale. Since then, the organization has given away more than 12,500 Shel
La Samaritaine, a historic Parisian department store that towers over the banks of the Seine, spent the last 16 years unDior Spa Cheval Blanc—a collaboration between the hotel chain and the French fashion house—promises “happiness in the heart of Paris,” a tall
High-quality woodworking tools are beautifully crafted objects in and of themselves. Traditionally created by artisans,
At a Los Angeles Exhibition, “Almost-Dysfunctional” Japanese Pottery That Conveys the Circle of Life
In Plato’s dialogue Timaeus, the word khôra—the territory just outside the Ancient Greek city center—is used to describe a condition that serves as a womb-like spa
According to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, a full garbage truck’s worth of plastic flows into our oceans almost every minute. While e
The ingenuity of the Parentesi lamp, first released by the Italian lighting brand Flos in 1971, is most evident when it’s handled: Slide the nickel-plated
Elyn Zimmerman Created a Memorial to the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing—Then It Was Destroyed on 9/11
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One of the biggest challenges for any great brand is to evolve and remain relevant while staying true to its roots. JaegReverso timepiece, which celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, is a brilliant example of an accessory that is both immedia
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The spareness of Scandinavian design is a school of thought—and a way of life—that’s responsible for the popularity of sTekla, the aesthetic approach means creating everyday pieces for the bed and bath that are high-quality and low-fuss, informe
Earlier this month, a stately structure covered in angled white bricks opened its doors in the East Williamsburg area ofAmant Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization that values a slow, focused approach in making and viewing art. (It has a sister locatio
“Sustainability” is stamped on so many products these days—having become corporate America’s go-to buzzword throughout tEp. 103 of our At a Distance podcast; he’s trying to tackle this issue head-on through data and analytics.
The archeologist-turned-goldsmith Loren Teetelli spent more than 100 hours hand-forging a single 22-karat gold cuff for Loren Nicole, in 2016. Jean Prounis is another millennial who’s mastered the time-honored craft of goldsmithing. The New York–based designer begins her pro
“I’m constantly looking for new links between light and color, but my collections always start as a dream,” says Claire Holographique, unveiled this week in Paris during the city’s fall/winter 2021 haute couture fashion shows, is yet another foray onto
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In his 1982 book Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives, the late futurist John Naisbitt predicted that people employed by technology companies would crave real-world social c
One year ago, entrepreneur Jaé Joseph and creative director Brianna Wise released a survey that doubled as an applicatioBlack Apothecary Office (BAO): a three-month-long accelerator program designed to help Black- and Latinx-owned beauty and wellness start-ups reBAO Universe, a digital marketplace offering goods such as velvety face oils, silky moisturizers, and hydrating shampoo from some of
“I don’t just look at stones. I need to touch them, and feel the life inside them,” says Lucia Silvestri, who sources geBulgari and serves as its creative director. “There’s sensuality in the energy of gems born in the depths of the earth.” Such v most exquisite pieces designed by the Roman jeweler to date. (Some 200 other items will be added to the collection later
Slow’s headquarters sits within Marina Marina, a sprawling multi-building campus located just outside Berlin’s city center. When it officially opens, next spring, th
When Louis Cartier designed the Tank watch, in 1917, its rectangular dial was a bold departure from the round cases of the era. Inspired by an aerial view of the
Kintsugi, the time-honored Japanese practice of using powdered precious metals to repair broken ceramics, has steadily gained poKintsugi: The Poetic Mend (Bloomsbury). In it, she interviews kintsugi masters, details various techniques, and considers potential grounds for the custom’s development. Here, Kemske discusskintsugi’s origins and why it resonates so strongly with people today.
A New Film Highlights Fashion Designer Margaret Howell’s Admiration for Understated Japanese Objects and Materials
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Yolande Batteau’s Latest Body of Work Reflects a Passionate Personal Investigation of Materials and Self
Over the past three decades, multidisciplinary artist Yolande Batteau has traveled the world to study age-old artisanal Callidus Guild. Yet while Batteau investigates materials, she’s simultaneously doing a similar kind of work within herself—an act thatYolande Batteau: Introspective,” on view at New York’s decorative arts gallery Bernd Goeckler through May 28.
Since ancient times, people have looked to the sun, moon, and stars to create a sense of rhythm and order in their livesLittle Lange 1 Moon Phase watch elevates the poetic movement with a copper-flecked, midnight-blue silver dial that shimmers like the night sky, a
Giancarlo Valle, a celebrated New York–based interiors and furniture designer with an artful, worldly eye informed by hiPlateau table lamp, created with self-taught Brooklyn ceramicist Natalie Weinberger, leans into that sensibility with a more craft-centere
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Vietnamese-American Stylist Beverly Nguyen Pays Tribute to Her Family and Friends With a New Pop-Up Shop
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Artist Eric Oglander gravitates toward materials that collapse time and space, and holds an unwavering faith in the powetihngs.com, and plans to open a brick-and-mortar shop of the same name in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens later this year). IP.E.,” is on view through May 15.
When a loved one passes, the typical death care options are both limited and harmful to the planet. Conventional burial Recompose, an NOR funeral home located in a Seattle suburb and designed by local architectural firm Olson Kundig (whose principalEp. 37 of our Time Sensitive podcast). Last year, two other NOR companies were formed in the region, signaling that the practice isn’t a pipe dream, but a r
For many diners, using “biodegradable” or “compostable” takeout containers is one way of doing their part in protecting don’t break down in a backyard composting bin and require special conditions to degrade. The Canadian company Case has a better solution: a circular system for food receptacles.
Because of its ubiquity, it’s tempting to describe Emeco’s iconic Navy Chair, designed in 1944, as basic. But that would
As the vaccine rollout continues, previously closed galleries and museums have, thankfully, continued to steadily reopenWhen Practice Becomes Form: Carpentry Tools from Japan,” on view through July 11, presents an ode to the tradition of Japanese architecture and handcraft. On display are an atōryō. The collection of beautiful saws, chisels, and planes demonstrate the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Japanese joiner
Masayuki Nishimoto, founder of the Japanese creative agency En One, knew he wanted to develop an experimental culinary space in Tokyo long before he met Ghetto Gastro’s Jon Gray on the st
East Fork imbues traditional clay tableware with a sense of delight, resulting in pieces that are instantly recognizable. The commonth)—while its expansion into the lifestyle realm, with online recipes and carefully culled pantry items, such as black gar Your products often immediately sell out. A few months ago, an article in the New York Post called your passionate fans the “new potheads.” What makes East Fork’s pieces so covetable?
Recent studies attest to what the crafters among us have known for a long time: that the rhythmic, repetitive nature of knitting, crocCelia Pym, working with her hands is more than a stress-relieving pastime—it’s instinctive. She grew up in a family where repairi
Is our obsession with newness an ailment of capitalism? Kintsugi, the traditional Japanese art of mending broken pottery, has been around for more than four centuries—but its philosophkintsukuroi, meaning “golden repair”—sees breakage as a valuable asset that adds to an object’s history. Fragments are pieced back
Textile designer Anni Albers, who was born in Berlin at the turn of the 20th century, brought a modernist touch and expe“In a Slow Manner,” the first presentation at Paris’s Maison du Danemark since it completed an extensive renovation. Opening Feb. 3, the sh
Hand-wringing and hand-washing seem to be defining this time warp of a pandemic. When it comes to the latter, we’re partSlowdown hand-wash set from the New York upstart Dally Goods—not just for its name (which, to be clear, we’re not connected to), but its ethosExperts say fantasy can provide a way through difficult times; if harmless daydreaming can get us through this moment, we’ll happily indulge in a bit of wanderlust where we can find
Technology and industry often get much of the credit for fueling the United States’ development, but for curator, writerCraft: An American History (Bloomsbury), out next week, Adamson shows how skilled laborers shaped the nation, telling remarkable, often surprising
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The culture of wellness tends to focus on trends, like meditation hacks or CBD gummies. But a new app devotes itself to Kama turns to leading neuroscientists, psychologists, somatic therapists, and other experts to help us better our bedroom hasaid in an interview with Forbes that she sees the company as a response to a “sex and intimacy recession” that’s happening around the world. “Our body
Wood boxes are something of a national treasure in Japan, where Buddhist monks began tucking stoles, prayer beads, and okiribako—boxes handcrafted from paulownia, a native tree with lightweight, durable, water-resistant timber—into the mainstream. Masuda Kiribako, which has been skillfully producing traditional receptacles since 1929.
Three years ago, French furniture and object designer Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance—whose clients include Baccarat, Bernhardt Made in Situ that champions the traditional crafts, techniques, and materials of the region through objects he designs and makes witsoenga. How did the idea for Made in Situ come about?
Imagine shopping a trove of objects that are at once elegant and ethically made—no post-purchase consumer guilt necessarGoodee, an online marketplace of homewares and clothing that make a positive impact on people and the planet. Founded by Montrundulating Pakurigo baskets handwoven by artisans in Ghana from locally sourced vetiver grass, vegan seaweed soap that cleverly uses coriander seeds and peppercorns as exfoliants, and the sought-after Goodee Hoodie, recently released in three new colors (dusty rose, Egyptian blue, and alabaster) and made from Egyptian cotton by the Kotn. There’s also a handsome German Douglas pine daybed from Danish B Corp Skagerak, topped with Kvadrat upholstery, and a Japanese windmill palm fiber “corner brush” designed to dust the undustable. Feel like decking the halls? Try these multihued Jipi Baubles tree ornaments, handmade from Jipijapa palm tree leaves by Colombian artisans in the Andes. For those on our gift lists, including the
That we’ve all likely considered relocating to another planet at some point this year may be no bad thing, according to In a recent study published in the journal PLOS One, the group describes their experiments with the organic polymer chitin that demonstrate its viability as a building matEp. 16 of our Time Sensitive podcast)—with a mineral equivalent to Martian soil. They used it to successfully construct an array of objects, including a worProject Olympus, a research initiative looking to develop structures that can be 3D-printed out of lunar dust. Working with the Austin-he recently told Fast Company. “It’s actually going to make construction on Earth even faster, even cheaper.”
Fashion brand Kilomet109, headquartered in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, is reviving the country’s textile traditions with each piece in its men’s
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“Many people think play is just for children,” says London-based designer Michelle Rinow. “But it’s necessary through alTransforming Touch, a series of knitted lights that encourage users of every age to engage in a bout of old-fashioned fun. Rinow cleverly
Wonder Valley’s hinoki body oil—a cult favorite among beauty and wellness bloggers—is formulated around a simple moisturizer that’s been embraced by va
There are roughly 2,000 species of cacti found around the world. The speciality plant store Hot Cactus, run by a collective of creatives in Los Angeles, stocks some of the rarest breeds online and at its shoebox brick-and-Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia), is made expressly with the elongated napiform root of peyote in mind. For $70, you can nab one of Morris’s Peyote Pot grow kits: Each comes with four seeds so you can germinate your own Lophophora fricii, a cactus species that’s native to Mexico and commonly referred to as “false peyote.” That is—sorry to disappoint you—n
By now, it’s a well-known fact that the multi-trillion-dollar fashion and apparel industry ranks as a top polluter world10 percent of annual global carbon emissions. It is also the third-largest consumer of the planet’s water supply—exceeded only by the oil and paper industries—and is set to double its consumption rate by 2030. Much of this water is Living Colour, the duo experiment with pigment-producing bacteria as a sustainable alternative to artificial textile dyes, which are Design to Fade, the very first bacterial-dyed sportswear collection. “We see it as a collaboration with the organism,” Luchtman says,
Japanese culture is known worldwide for its meticulous approach to hospitality—and, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, thTokyo Toilet project invited 16 world-class designers to rethink this humble, often overlooked, piece of public infrastructure.
Abby Bangser, founder and curator of the art and design fair Object & Thing, shook up the New York scene last spring with a refreshing debut that freely mixed online commerce with curated, exhibi
Toilet paper, like so many everyday items, has become a political point of contention in this maelstrom of a year, one t$31 billion tissue-paper industry in North America, as designers Benjamin Critton and Heidi Korsavong, co-directors of the Los Angeles art and design galMarta, point out. And with their latest installation, “Under/Over,” on view through Nov. 1, they’re addressing this dark underlayer of the Big T.P. industry with a group show examining thPlant Paper (which makes toxin- and tree-free toilet paper using only fast-growing, FSC-certified bamboo), Critton and Korsavong in
When New York Fashion Week announced its anemic lineup for this month’s showings, the writing on the wall was as plain aEp. 69 of At a Distance, the fashion and apparel industry is a known top contributor to environmental pollution worldwide—and, as it grapples w
To an industrial designer, plastics and metals are typically a native language while natural materials are a foreign tonBradley Bowers didn’t touch them until graduate school, at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and discovered an approach to manipHalo, debuted this past spring. Bowers’s flair for transformation shines through each fixture, where sheets of cotton paper,
Getting a full-body exfoliating treatment is an experience, to say the least—one that will leave you feeling silky smootGoshi towel, made in Gunma, a prefecture of Japan touted for its textile and silk manufacturing, is no mere loofah. Woven wit
Finding a new exercise routine that provides total-body training can be a challenge, especially as we spend more time inWaterRower rowing machine, designed in 1987 by John Duke and carried exclusively by the MoMA Design Store, is built around a patented fly wheel tthe high-tech Hydrow.)
We’re living at work, working at home, and, on good days, working out somewhere between, in the same space every day. ItSupernatural, offers precisely that in the form of a VR exercise class. The next-level experience offers a range of cardio, upper-bo
From textiles to fashion to research and installation art, creative endeavors often take on varying forms for the VenezuFragmentario, in 2016, after stints studying industrial engineering and working as a fashion designer. Here, she tells us about her
Bicycling has seen a welcome boom in recent months, as the pandemic has made restless city dwellers wary of both public transportation and gyms, and in nAngell, designed by Ora-Ïto and currently available for pre-order, may be the most stylish and affordable e-bike option we’ve inflatable prototype) can tend to look a bit goofy, the Mate City eBike combines performance and style for the more serious cyclist seeking a longer-term investment. The Danish company also pthis high-performance model with fashion brand Moncler). If neither space nor budget are an issue, look to the Dutch bike-maker VanMoof’s S3, a top-of-the-line offering that boasts a near-silent electric mechanism and a distinctive frame that conceals the batt
A skilled gardener or houseplant parent is never without a good pair of quality shears. In addition to removing damaged Felco shears have remained virtually unchanged for decades, and for good reason: They get the job done, and are a worthwhile additiothese elegant Japanese gardening tools from the Beijing- and Hangzhou-based Fnji Furniture, made with solid-cast zinc-aluminum alloy that will accrue a pleasi
People have been bemoaning the decline of penmanship since the earliest days of typewriters, the once-newfangled, speedynote card and stationery sets from the Canadian startup Maurèle add an artful, personal touch to the analog communiqué, with a range of customizable designs and distinctive typefaces