Cotton and Cardboard

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The preparation for Matsutani’s edition of collected pencil shavings has taken us to new places in the city. ¬†Yesterday we went to rue Monsieur le Prince and visited a shop which sells uniforms and outfits to nurses and lab workers. ¬†I have seen these shops in many cities but I have not been inside one. It was a shop full of all kinds of things which I have never needed. ¬†There was a large selection of special rubber shoes and clogs which are made for easy cleaning. They can be put into dishwashers and sterilizing machines. ¬†There were tops and trousers in matching sporty colours and there were a lot of white ensembles with coloured edging on pockets or sleeves. There were short sleeves and long sleeves. There were a lot of things in plain white. The whites of the various uniforms varied a lot. There were bright whites and whites which looked greenish in the light. We chose five knee-length lab coats in white cotton. We did not want anything sporty. ¬†We wanted the whitest white at the cheapest price. We certainly did not want the white which looked greenish in the light.

Earlier we went to a small factory on the rue de Charonne called Cartonnages Laramée.  They are makers of cardboard boxes which are then usually covered with paper or cloth with a name printed on the top. There were boxes for very fancy shops and exclusive products and there were simple rough boxes with the printing right on the cardboard.  The whole time we were looking there was a background sound of big cutters whacking down on piles of thick cardboard. It was a dull heavy Thunk. We had the throbbing Thunk in our ears for the whole time that we examined box options.  There were so many types and styles and thicknesses.  There were many questions to ask and a lot of possibilities to explore. We went through hundreds of boxes on tables and shelves. The men in charge were a little confused by us because maybe they are accustomed to designer sort of people who arrive with a distinct plan or a particular product and then ask for a box in one colour and shape. They were not used to four people with so many questions among themselves. Our questions were in English and French and Japanese. The men could only respond to the questions in French.  Maybe they are used to these kind of discussions.  Maybe everyone who arrives is just as finicky.  We did not know exactly what we wanted but we knew we would know it when we saw it. One man went back to his desk and the other man hung around to answer our questions. A column nearby was coated with thousands of pieces of paper.  Maybe these were order forms.  It was some kind of colour-coded filing system and I loved it.

I did not go to the glass man nor to the wood suppliers. I went along to visit the man with the shop full of things made of wood. ¬†He has the boxes we finally agreed upon but we need more than he had in stock. ¬†He has had our order and a deposit for three weeks now but he has yet to contact the factory to order the extra boxes. ¬†We are beginning to feel nervous as we know that eleven wooden boxes are not enough boxes for the pencil shavings in Matsutani’s buckets.


Source: Cotton and Cardboard