All photographs by Jeff Martin; Telephone notepad courtesty of Rifle Paper Co.
Design blog lovers are probably very familiar with Simplesong. Authored by Alexandria-based letterpress designer Suann Song, the blog is a simple, pretty catalog of the simple, pretty things she loves. It’s essentially design porn that runs right in the leagues of Oh Joy! and 100 Layer Cake, and we could spend hours clicking through the fashion, lifestyle, food, and—of course—stationery posts. Blogger land—what a beautiful place. Especially when it jumps out of the computer screen and into real life.
Fifteen/Eleven, Song’s new curated paper goods boutique, brings the refined, vintage-inspired feel of her blog and letterpress work to a brick and mortar shop. Opening today, the quaint storefront is situated in a row of white-brick townhouses and carries many of the brands that she and and fellow bloggers devote so much web space to. Rifle Paper Co. notepads, calendars, and correspondence cards are perhaps the biggest name draw, but each of the additional brands carried—Paper + Cup, Russel + Hazel, Mr. Boddington’s Studio, Fig. 2, and Baggu are some that come to mind— has a loyal internet following all its own.
Size-wise, Fifteen/Eleven feels right as a home for these small-batch vendors—the tiny store is actually the front room of the Hive at 1511, a joint studio and workshop space Simplesong shares with Kate Headley Photography and Ritzy Bee events. Song and Assistant Curator Christine Van Duyn make excellent use of the space, artfully displaying Tourne pencils ($1.50 each), Orla Kiley notebooks ($12 to $20), and Shanna Murray decals ($12 to $50) on clean-lined tables and a white-varnished mantle. Items in the "curated craft corner", such Whisker Graphics' chevron stripe favor bags ($2.50 a set) and boldly printed Smock boxes, make gift wrap feel as special as the present itself. By the front door, a display devoted to marriage (the Hive collective is well known for their collaboration on weddings) prominently features Rifle's floral-stamped "Will You Be My Bridesmaid?" cards ($18 for a set of 8).
Song's own Simplesong goods pop up less than you'd think, but they're equal parts classic and adorable in all forms. Our favorites include a Neapolitan calendar ($28) and the canvas Ballet Flat tote ($16).
Overall, the feel of Fifteen-Eleven sits somewhere between calm, cheerful, and the decidedly sophisticated side of cute. A peaceful oasis where stationery and design blog fiends can finally reach out and touch heavily coveted but hard-to-find brands, the store stands out as a sweet and unassuming first for the area.
Fifteen-Eleven, 1511 King St., Alexandria, 703-548-0018. Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 to 6.