Laser Cut Luxury With Cutture

Cutture's Helen Sharland shares her luxurious, laser cut stationery expertise

Planning a stylish event? You’d better start with the stationery. Toast.Life chats to Cutture’s co-founder and director Helen Sharland to hear more about how their luxurious laser cut stationery adds unrivalled elegance to any event, and we get the lowdown on what to consider when commissioning this beautiful art form.

In this digital age, the thrill of receiving a beautiful, physical invitation can be a rare thing, and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to receive one of Cutture’s  creations in the post, then you’ll understand why they are without doubt one of the most highly regarded and highly sought-after suppliers in the events world. From simply elegant to wildly creative, their team of artistic designers, combined with their specialist laser-cutting service, create stationery and accessories like no other, and produce hand-finished pieces that are considered works of art.

“Our work is 3 dimensional, intricate and illustrative - we are storytellers” explains Helen Sharland, co-founder and Director at Cutture.

“I am a firm believer that paper products for events need to not only be about aesthetics but about purpose and longevity - they should evoke and create memories. An invitation that is storytelling is sure to be one that is treasured for years to come, place cards that are personal to your guests become a favour. Even table numbers can become a keepsake if you create ones that tell that story. It’s all about the details that create memories” 

Eddie Judd Photography Cutture Stationery

Helen and her husband Dominic have been busy running businesses since they were fresh out of university together. Interior architects by trade, they initially decided to launch a multi-disciplinary design practice working on interior architecture and graphic design projects. In the early days, they both trained in an architecture practice as model makers, so this alongside other freelance work funded their start up and in addition meant that they gained additional skills which turned out to be invaluable.

“In 2004 we basically needed more money as we were both full time on the business and expecting our first child, so we asked local architects if they need a model to be made, and they did” recalls Helen. 

With every new model commission they undertook, Helen and Dominic invested the money in to a new piece of workshop equipment, which they set up in ‘a brick shed’ in Parsons Green. This became a company in its own right and eventually in 2006 they bought a laser cutter to help with model making.

“That’s when we discovered what it might be able to do with graphic design. The technology then was relatively new and rarely used with graphic design, and after we experimented with it I remember pushing the pram around the block and we were coming up with all these ideas! We used it within client projects initially, then gradually got commissions for people’s wedding invitations where we illustrated their life stories and laser cut them. That was the moment it all happened!”


Cutture Estee Lauder Invitation

Cutture Wedding Invitation Laser

Helen and Dominic handpicked inspired, imaginative designers and experienced, meticulous production staff, and began creating bespoke pieces, ensuring that each design was enhanced by the latest laser-cutting technology and hand-finishing. Helen, Dominic and their team thrive on the conceptual design involved, as well as the making and the experimenting with new techniques in order to perfect a product. To create their unique and exceptional products and designs, they initially draw either straight onto the computer or by hand and then digitize, before it is then converted in to a specialized ‘vector file’, which the machine can then read and cut. The machines can either cut, score, engrave or perforate, and many years have been spent perfecting settings to ensure minimal burn and clean cutting.

“It cuts with a laser beam, so essentially this is fire, therefore it takes some perfecting!” explains Helen. “Acrylic and paper are the most common materials we use, mirrored acrylic or neons have been fun as table numbers, but also acrylic candle holders are defective or paper lanterns as table numbers and place cards. There are so many ways to be creative, that is the beauty of bespoke design”

Cutture Snow Globe

Cutture Amara Invitaiton

Cutture Corporate Invitation

The result is truly exquisite invitations that your guests wouldn’t ever want to say no to; beautiful, intricate and incredibly stylish invitations that create intrigue and excitement in such a way that recipients will feel they simply cannot miss the experience – so much so that client feedback demonstrates that Cutture’s invitations have in fact increased attendance for many events by an average of 60% compared to previous years. Additionally, Cutture’s bespoke event accessories, such as decorative menus, table names, centerpieces, signage and more, maintain similar style and excitement throughout the event, whilst providing an impressive talking-point.

“We’re very lucky to create many memorable projects - every day is different and each day our invitations are being shipped out to events that are so creative, it’s often quite mind blowing! One we have become quite renowned for was when we created a theatre in a box for a BBC2 documentary all about the bespoke world at Christmas. We had to convey the essence of the incredible venue Aynhoe Park and the playfulness of a children’s party, so we created an invitation that became a toy theatre in a box where parts moved and spun around. They were delivered to children via elves and a wonderful party was held for the documentary, and then for all the local children in the area raising money for charity. We still get asked about those 5 minutes of fame 3 years on!” Helen laughs. 

“And a personal highlight for me has to be when we were asked to create Zaha Hadid’s memorial invitation by Zaha Hadid Architects. With our history in architecture, Zaha was a true inspiration on many levels - for female architecture, for equality in both feminism and race and her work is just out of this world, her creations are enchanting. To be approached by her studio was a complete honour, it was very daunting and many hours were spent creating something that we seemingly simple but it was very clever and intricate to make”

I explain to Helen that I am of course playing devil’s advocate, but I can’t help but ask the question – in this digital age, is there really such a necessity for paper stationery? Why spend the money, effort, and time commissioning invitations, buying stamps, writing and addressing them and sending them to your guests, when you could just type a few lines and send an instantaneous email or Whatsapp? It is 2018 after all…

“There is definitely still a place for paper invitations. We work mostly in the luxury sector with corporate brands and they fully understand the importance of paper goods for their marketing campaigns - our invitations increase attendance to their events and stay on people’s desks for a long time, as you strike an emotional chord by producing something so tactile” explains Helen.

“For our private clients we provide a bespoke service and create a piece of art that is all about them. It’s a beautiful gift for them to give their guests and so refreshing to receive in the post. We are craving tactile goods now - if you notice, digital companies have exceptional paper goods to reinforce their branding, so I think there’s a really interesting marriage happening between digital and paper goods. They work well together and hopefully will continue to do so.”

Home Invitation Cutture

Cutture Invitation Storybook

Cutture’s workshop is now based in Bedfordshire, having recently made the move from London, where its small team laser cut and hand finish every single piece of work that they produce. Helen feels that it’s hugely important to keep manufacturing in the UK, as well as keeping a tight hold on their well-earned secrets and tricks of the trade.

“Ultimately everyone at Cutture only wants to create the best for each and every client - we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and our team are all the same, they are so passionate about it and hopefully that shines through” enthuses Helen.

Cutture Table Plan

Knot Cutture Table Number

Another key to their ongoing success and outstanding reputation is the fact that this dynamic and driven company never rests on its laurels – instead it continues to evolve. They’ve just launched a fresh new rebrand which includes a snazzy new logo, new packaging and new experiences for clients. Their rostra of luxury brands, ultra chic weddings and style-savvy private clients continues to grow, but there is one particular individual who Helen has her laser beam-esque vision set upon… 

“From day one I’ve said once we are working on Elton John’s invitations we’ll know we’ve made it!” she laughs. “We’ve worked on events for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, but I’ve always wanted to work with him directly. After all, he really is the king of parties!”


Is laser cut stationery expensive?

Laser cutting is a specialist print finish, and it usually is in addition to another specialist print finish, such as hot foiling, therefore the price does reflect this, and then you also have to factor in hand finishing every product. However, there are ways of being very clever about how things are made. Obviously, we have to work to budgets and so we are very creative in managing to reduce costs if necessary. There will be an element of compromising, but we try not to have this impinge on the design too much. We very much encourage our clients to tell us their budgets from the outset, then we can work to that budget without disappointing and without compromising on design. 

What advice would you give to someone considering some beautiful laser cut creations at their next event? 

Bring as much to the table as possible, tell your designer everything, from how you want your guests to feel to how you want to tantalise their senses at your event, and why! The more you tell us, the more you will get out of us. Use your designers’ expertise - listen to their suggestions and most importantly have fun together! Also, don’t underestimate how long things take, from drawing to the making, try not to be last minute and force that pressure on someone who is working passionately creating the perfect item for you, there’s nothing worse than being time pressured when making something bespoke!

What do you think will be this season’s trends?

There seems to be both a huge shift to monochrome for weddings, alongside very colourful bold events, a bit of contradiction but that’s definitely what we are seeing at the moment. We like to play with both 3 dimensional formats and clever 2 dimensional formats - that is really the beauty of bespoke work - it doesn’t really follow trends other than print processes. Hot foil doesn’t seem to be going anywhere too soon!

If you’d like to work with Cutture you can find their contact details and more info on their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.

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