About Us

Cambridge Imprint is a small paper-making business in Cambridge, England, designing and printing patterned paper. We are known for our beautiful colours, our joyful illustration and typography, a lively, hand-drawn aesthetic, and meticulous attention to detail.


Cambridge Imprint Patterned Papers

Cambridge Imprint is a design partnership of painter Claerwen James, textile artist Jane Powell and ceramicist Ali Murphy. We use simple hand-stencilled screen-printing to create our original designs, and spot-colour lithography to replicate that studio process in manufacturing the final paper product. The result is a matte paper of unparalleled intensity and clarity of colour.

Our influences are eclectic, but it has often been noted that our patterns have a particularly English quality, with a palette that is both sober and exuberant. We export paper all over the world, even to Kyoto in Japan, probably the world capital of beautiful patterned paper: an indication that we’re producing something with a very distinctive flavour. At recent design awards Katie Law of the Evening Standard called us ‘wholly original’ and ‘trend-free’.


We are evangelists for paper and the wonderful versatility of this ancient material. There are paper’s tangible virtues: the tactile satisfaction of making a mark with pencil, ink, or paint; the way it absorbs and holds colour; the way it can be folded, sculpted, cut and glued; its surprising tensile strength and durability. This last attribute has a paradoxical element: the permanence of paper over time is balanced by its utter ephemerality, like the leaves of the trees. These qualities of permanence and evanescence remain more relevant than ever now, in a time of anxiety about the impact of humankind on the planet.

Paper is a stable, low-energy medium. A printed book, a written diary, a photograph or drawing, remains legible for decades or longer, where electronic files, with an ongoing energy bill for maintenance, can become unreadable in just a few years. On the other hand, unlike the hardware on which we store digital information, which is full of heavy metals, and will lie in landfill sites for millennia, or the information itself, which proliferates online or hides away in mysterious corners of our computers, to destroy paper is simple and the environmental consequences are less devastating.


Cambridge Imprint seeks to create an authentic product, minimising or eliminating the dead hand of the camera and the computer from the design and manufacturing process.Hand-drawing, hand-making and other pre-industrial, pre-digital design processes create a livelier texture, a more living result. The spot-colour lithographic printing we use to make the paper sets a limit on the complexity of the images and the number of colours that we can use: constraints that we find a spur to our creativity. In general, our aim is to preserve the crucial quality of improvisation in our work, to maintain an environment where happy accidents can occur and be capitalised upon.

To remain agile and responsive, it helps to be small, and to work locally. We make our products in England, and source as many of our raw materials from England as we are able. Only by keeping our manufacturing nearby are we able to maintain the necessary attention to colour, texture and other detail. This strategy also minimises the distance travelled by our products and their components during the course of their manufacture, and means that we can be sure about the conditions in which our products are made.


Virtually all Cambridge Imprint products are designed, manufactured, finished and packaged in England. Our patterned paper is printed on a lithographic press by a long-established printers’ cooperative in Bethnal Green in London. It is printed on a matte uncoated stock using vegetable oil-based inks hand-mixed for each job, a process that closely mirrors the way the prototypes are produced in our workshop. From Sheffield and Stoke-on-Trent, through Bedfordshire and Suffolk and down into Devon, our products are manufactured by various small English businesses with high levels of expertise and craftsmanship. We work with a range of box-makers, book-binders, potteries and textile printers to make our patterns and papers into enduring, resilient, beautiful, useful things.

There are a few products for which we have been so far unable to source an English manufacturer. Our birch trays are made using our paper by FormPress, a small Swedish firm on the island of Öland. Our leather Pocket Folios are made in Austria by Paper Republic, a company with the highest standards for creation of an ethical product in terms of both animal welfare and environmental impact of the tanning process. Our lampshades are made from our own patterned card in India, in collaboration with Samarkand Design, a small English business with long-term production links there.


Our paper is uncoated and printed with vegetable oil-based inks. It is therefore both completely recyclable and biodegradable. The stock we print on has Forest Stewardship Council certification, which means that it is produced from sustainable sources. Our wonderful printer, Calverts, is a long-established workers’ cooperative for whom environmental concerns are a key consideration. Calverts adopted low-impact, environmentally-friendly protocols long before such issues became mainstream, and they continue to innovate in this regard. We use the minimum of packaging compatible with preserving our products from damage in transit, and we use absolutely no plastic of any kind anywhere in our product packaging. Some of our cards, labels and notebooks are protected by a fully biodegradable cellophane sleeve.