Design for Purpose: Whitelines

PURPOSE: Sketchbooks for persnickety designers

Sometimes the mother of invention is not necessity but frustration. This was the case with the designer Olof Hansson, who found that the crisscrossing black lines of his graph paper detracted from the simplicity of his sketches. So the 36-year-old Swede set about developing an innovative kind of paper that uses white (instead of traditional black or blue) lines on a toned background. The light-gray color not only reduces glare but disappears when scanned or photocopied, leaving behind a cleaner image. Launched in Sweden in 2006, Hansson’s patented stationary, appropriately named Whitelines, recently made its debut in the United States.

His company practices green, local production and is the first of its kind to display carbon-footprint information prominently on the covers of its notebooks. And though the products were originally intended for the design-minded, they have made a splash in schools, especially among students with learning disabilities, who find the paper easier to focus on. Hansson is thrilled with the unintended outcome but demurs, “That wasn’t the basic idea. I was just really annoyed by the way the lines are.”

Design for Purpose:

Whitelines: Sketchbooks for persnickety designers

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