Tucked in the heart of Singapore's Holland Village, Bynd Artisan stands as a contrast to the "smart nation" image the city-state is trying to build. The store's concept? Fully customizable paper notebooks that are hand-bound by craftsmen (and women) in the store.
The brand is the brainchild of Winnie Chan, heir to Singapore-grown printing and bookbinding company Grandluxe, and her husband, James Quan.
The store in Holland Village is their fourth outlet since the company was set up in 2014. The shelves are filled with a wide selection of papers, covers and twin-wires. At the center of the store is an island, much like a craftsman's corner, where the notebooks are put together in about 10 minutes. On selected days, the store holds bookbinding classes conducted by a 71-year-old expert in the craft.
Starting at a time when bookstores across the country were shutting down, Chan, who is CEO and founder of Bynd Artisan, wanted her concept to stand out.
"We tried to be very English, in the way we named our collections. We did not want to be seen as Asian," Chan told CNBC.
However, the idea backfired and the company faced difficulties getting retail space.
So, at the suggestion of renowned New York-based photographer John Clang, Bynd Artisan rebranded to promote its Asian roots and heritage, which include decorating their outlets with old photographs, newspaper cuttings and pages taken from old order books that belonged to her grandfather.
It was the just another step in Chan's learning curve.