In 1964, Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan coined the famous maxim: “The medium is the message.” Anna Carter would agree.
When living abroad with her husband, Air Mail founder and former editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair Graydon Carter, and their daughter, she yearned for a more memorable yet modern way to keep in contact with their friends back in the States. Texting was lighthearted and quick, but not great for longer correspondence. (Admit it: no one fully processes every detail in a big blue block of iMessages.) Emails came across as cold and corporate, especially for milestone moments like engagements or births. Letters were memorable, sure, but took forever to reach their recipients. “I felt, in this new, hurried, technology-focused world, there’s no charmingly personal or way to be in touch with friends and family in the digital space,” Carter says.
So, six decades after McLuhan, Carter decided to take his thesis one step further, designing the desired medium for these messages herself.
Launching today, Electragram is an online stationery company that puts custom correspondence on artfully designed, vintage-inflected templates that “inspires the same delight as sending or receiving a handwritten card,” Carter says. Old-fashion Western Union telegrams served as an initial style cue: the first layout for Electragram, which was dreamed up and drawn out by Graydon in France, features their signature all-capitalized black typeface, beige background, and bold banner. “It made sense as an aesthetic because telegrams revolutionized correspondence,” says Carter. “They were used as bearers of momentous things—the sort of things you couldn’t ignore, everything from declarations of love to declarations of war.”
Others evoke the anglophilic air of Buckingham Palace correspondence, adorned with crown emblems or “royal post” stamps. (Anna’s father, once an assistant private secretary to Queen Elizabeth, inspired her lifelong love of stationery: “I was completely in awe of the fabulous limitations he would receive with the royal crest,” she says.) Some are designed with nods to certain occasions: think a candle-lit cake motif, or a martini glass. (“Drinks tonight?” the latter reads.) Others are designed with no occasion in mind: what you want to write on the card bearing a Vespa or a pineapple is your choice entirely.
Carter stresses Electragram’s versatility. “You can use it for dinner and event invitations, birthday wishes, holiday greetings, love notes, expressions of sympathy, thoughtful apologies, and so on,” she says of its various uses. The one thing every template has in common, however? “It captures your attention.”
Electragrams can be delivered both via text or email, and can be saved as keepsakes thanks to an archive function, an internet equivalent to stowing things away in a shoebox or desk drawer. After all, if there was a message within the medium of Electagram, Carter herself describes it best: “The beauty of the Electragram is in the emotional connection that it creates.”