January 5, 2012 • Sarah Schwartz
10 Designers to Watch in 2012
There are so many talented stationery designers out there, what garners one admission to ST’s exclusive 10? I thought a lot about this as I compiled this year’s list, since although I knew whom I wanted to include, I wasn’t sure exactly why.
I finally came up with these criteria: Do their designs feel completely of our time, yet still one-of-a-kind? Is there a surprising quality to their work? These are difficult, subjective qualities to distinguish, true. But hopefully learning more about the engaging personalities behind some of most distinctive lines out there will give you insight into our industry – as well as the talented individuals who make it so dynamic.
Amber Favorite | A. Favorite Design, www.afavoritedesign.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Classic Americana with a focus on typography … imagine a Midwestern flea market.
Current Bestseller: Hands down the Wedding Carnival Ticket.
Personal Favorite: Hmmmmm, that’s a challenge. I’ll say gift giving matchup, which I enjoyed designing as well as copywriting.
Surprise Hit: You’re Just My Type: I’ve always been a typography junkie but didn’t realize there was such a huge typography market.
Iconic Selection: The Carnival Ticket cards. Every show I’ve done, someone says, “You’re the ticket card company.”
Favorite Color: PMS 199, yummy.
Current Design Obsession: I’m continuously obsessed with typography, especially when well executed.
Favorite Flower: Peonies.
Favorite Indulgence: Flea Market Sundays.
Cheree Berry | Cheree Berry Paper, Chereeberry.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Unique and playful stationery chock full of surprises. Whimsical designs and patterns feature clever copy and pops of foil woven throughout.
Current Bestseller: We first designed the Tiffany Jewel invitation for “TODAY throws a Martha Stewart wedding” and it’s been our No. 1 seller ever since. Our clients love the type treatment and they make it their own by customizing the envelope liner. Traditional with a twist at its best!
Personal Favorite: My favorites come and go, but the XOXO design has stuck with me the longest. I love the unexpected shape, the poetic layout of the type, the playful yet bold envelope liner patterns, the delicate but no-fuss black thread bow and the miniature black envelope.
Surprise Hit: To my surprise, our Sweeping Script design has been an industry hit. I designed it several years ago for a client who was searching for something different. I have to say I didn’t really like it at first, but over the years it has grown on me and we’ve perfected it along the way.
Iconic Selection: I love our octopus motif. Since we work on so many beach themed weddings, we’re always challenging ourselves to come up with unique beach visuals and motifs. We love seashells and sailboats but there is something about an octopus that makes you smile.
Favorite Colors: My wedding invitation palette. I love palettes that include an unexpected pop of color. My base color palette was orange, fuchsia, red with an accent of Tiffany blue and plenty of gold foil pops.
Current Design Obsession: I’m loving very thin slab serifs. I can’t get enough of the font, Archer.
Favorite Flower: Ranunculus.
Favorite Indulgence: If you’re talking paper, I love pops of foil. If non-paper, Fran’s Salted Caramels.
Claudia Smith | Fig. 2 Design Studio, fig2design.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Whether it’s one of the wedding lines or our various products, everything is clean and crisp yet fun and festive, and always colorful!
Current Bestseller: The You Really Are Just SO Awesome striped neon card. It’s got just enough neon for the color shy.
Personal Favorite: I love the various gift tags because I’m a sucker for giftwrapping. Right now, I’m loving the metallics.
Surprise Hit: Thanks for Bringing Sexy Back. Who knew neon and calligraphy were such a sexy combo?
Iconic Selection: Cheers to You card. Confetti is fun and festive, so it showcases the Fig. 2 brand perfectly.
Favorite Color: Way too many to choose just one. But if it’s bright and cheery, I’m bound to love it.
Current Design Obsession: Calligraphy. I wish I had the talent for it, but lucky for me I get to collaborate with wonderful calligraphers.
Favorite Flower: Peonies. They’re so lush and pretty.
Favorite Indulgence: I’m not patient enough for a spa and don’t look forward to haircuts, but I absolutely love summer pedicure dates with my best friend. Sitting in a massage chair and chatting while drinking coffee is the best way to spend a Saturday morning. Having perfectly painted toenails when I wear cute sandals is icing on the cake.
Dyna Kau | Girl of All Work, girlofallwork.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Fun, contemporary and innovative paper products and accessories, ideal for office and personal use.
Current Bestseller: Our Raval Page Flags, and I love how this originated with me just playing with watercolors at breakfast.
Personal Favorite: Page Pockets hands down. I actually rely on these quite a lot when I’m carrying my sketchbooks. They get filled with all sorts of inspirational ephemera that I don’t have time to tape down.
Surprise Hit: Our Peel and Stick tabs. I guess there are a lot of stylish, organized people out there.
Iconic Selection: Haiku Page Flags.
Favorite Color: A strong shock of citrus yellow.
Current Design Obsession: Sonia Delaney’s vintage textiles. I love both her innovative design and her business acumen, especially at a time when it was unusual for women to spearhead large companies.
Favorite Flower: Gladiolus.
Favorite Indulgence: Winding down the evening with a book in bed.
Jason Arbuckle | J. Falkner Fine Stationery & Cards, jfalkner.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Bright Palm Beach colors with chic images and playful phrases. Our philosophy? Share color, spread happiness.
Current Bestseller: May All Your Gifts Be Shoes birthday card. The bright color really popped and the elegant linework brought it upscale.
Personal Favorite: Seeing You Is Like Champagne card. Jackie O’s words could be as stylish as her outfits, and we gave this phrase extra charm by shaping it into a champagne glass.
Surprise Hit: You’re the Bee’s Knees birthday card. Who would have thought this Jazz-age expression would still charm everyone today?
Iconic Selection: Never Change Your Stripes zebra birthday card. Simple type, a charming image and strong color are what we’re all about.
Favorite color: The punch of Hermes orange. We designed a whole card range around this hue.
Current Design Obsession: We can’t get enough of Diana Vreeland. She had a brilliant understanding of color and always a definite point of view. Every time we dip into her biography – “DV” – we are inspired anew.
Favorite Flower: White orchids. They remind us of butterflies frozen mid-flight.
Favorite indulgence: A well-made Italian blazer. As Tom Ford said, “A good blazer is better than a face-lift.”
Melissa Foster | Elum Designs, elumdesigns.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Elum couples high-style modern designs with eye-opening color combinations and sumptuous materials, making their collection of letterpress and paper products must-have fashionable accessories for life and home.
Current Bestseller: Poppies & Posies is a modernized spin on 1960s floral table linens. We chose a really fresh pumped-up color scheme. This design across the letterpress and offset product line is striking a cord with consumers. I think because it just makes you feel happy all over.
Personal Favorite: Without a doubt, for me it is Snakeskin. I can’t explain it, but something about this pattern is both relaxing and lively at the same time. I even used this pattern on our Lucidity invitation suite, and when the color is toned way down, the pattern morphs into something completely different and tells a whole new story.
Surprise Hit: This wedding invitation we did for our Umi custom invitation line called Confidential. The concept was risky; a very abstract vibe for the wedding category and it incorporated edgy tongue-in-cheek verbiage throughout. But you know what? People really GOT IT. We had couples putting their own creative spin on the wording and really having a lot of fun with it, which was the absolute intention. Never underestimate the ability to connect through the use of a little bit of humor.
Iconic Selection: Our Garden Aviary collection was first released in 2006 and it still sells like crazy, particularly in the yellow. I think the power of using just one color to create a look is often highly underestimated. This bright hue is fresh and simple, which can stand out in a sea of multi-color designs.
Favorite Color: Ahhh, Pantone Warm Gray #4. It’s you and me forever baby. It may seem boring, but it relaxes me and I never tire of it, plus you can pair it with anything and be as fickle as you want with that pesky other color.
Current Design Obsession: My new office. We moved our warehouse and I am in the midst of designing and decorating my new office. I covered an entire wall with synthetic hedge to get a bit of that “secret garden” vibe and now I am going to offset that with a modern and super graphic metallic wallpaper along with two 1960s inspired lamps that I am going to doctor up with gold mirrored interlined shades. I am geeking out over this, seriously.
Favorite Flower: Ranunculus, they have hidden layers of color mystery inside every bloom
Favorite Indulgence: Scouring an antique shop for a hidden treasures to blend with my modern aesthetic. What? Did you think I would say something about food?
Rebecca Schmidt Ruebensaal | Mr. Boddington’s Studio, www.mrboddington.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Mr. Boddington’s Studio stays on its design toes with evolving the old, historic classics. Wit, patterning and inspiration from delicious little alleys around the world are critical to finding this balance. Everything we do is done by hand.
Current Bestseller: Our custom wedding line. We whip the visions of our lovely brides into paper.
Personal Favorite: Crimenals du Monde 2012 Wall Calendar. Illustrations highlighting spies and criminals around the world, but not the mean ones, rather the chic Parisian cat burglars and handsome Cary Grant types.
Surprise Hit: Our daringly witty ABC Manhattan poster! It’s a bit insider… but funny all the same.
Iconic Selection: Every lady and gentleman with a pen should consider owning a set of luxury paper stock. Not to jot down bread and milk groceries, but for the occasional memorable note. Our boxed sets with hand-lined envelopes are perfect for this matter.
Favorite Color: This always changes, but I must say the blues are driving me mad lately. Love Williamsburg blue, and its relative, antique blue.
Current Design Obsession: Any drop of historic imperialism, ideally of the Russian or Indian type. I dream about the grand balls held in the palaces around New Delhi, where the women wore gold saris and the men tuxes, and the curries were served in Limoge and silver tureens.
Favorite Flower: The palest of pink peonies. My charmed mother has been giving me a bunch every birthday for years and years.
Favorite Indulgence: Sitting in a dark movie theater with my husband, watching the previews while eating popcorn and M&Ms. Rare occasions while raising a toddler!
Rhonda Wyman | Figs + Ginger, figsandginger.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Figs + Ginger makes party goods and jewelry for every stage of life. We”re inspired by flora, fauna, mountains and clouds. We’re kind of turning into a Bohemian Collection.
Current Bestseller: Our Bunting Cake Toppers! People love that they can customize their cakes with initials or short words. It’s fun.
Personal Favorite: Wooden Keepsake Bunting. It’s highly customizable so I think people enjoy picking out the perfect phrase for them selves or as a really lovely and special gift. It’s been a great hit in the world of wedding décor and photo props also.
Surprise Hit: Mother’s Day bunting card. It’s a card and a keepsake. Easy gifting!
Iconic Selection: Our Family Series necklaces, which isn’t exactly stationery, but we wouldn’t be able hop into stationery and party goods without them. They’re probably what people would recognize as Figs at this point.
Favorite Color: #f47f65. I wear a lot of grey, but my scarf is that pink color and it makes me happy.
Current Design Obsession: Industrial Design and vintage plates. I love the whole “form vs. function” debate, and old things that remind me of my Babush (Polish for grandma). I think I draw a lot from those two concepts.
Favorite Flower: Moonflowers. We have a massive moonflower vine in our backyard this year, and last year we had a smaller one in the front.
Favorite Indulgence: Books on tape + Fantasy/Sci Fi, currently BBC’s “Doctor Who”!
Sarah Sheffer | Doc Milo, docmilo.com
Aesthetic of the Line: Sassy chic.
Current Bestseller: Pretty in Pink Bride invitation
Personal Favorite: Pretty in Pink Baby Shower invitation
Surprise Hit: Fabulous is a Full-Time Job list pad. I knew it was my job, but who knew there were so many of us!?
Iconic Selection: Chic Crib Mom invitation.
Favorite Colors: Pink & Green
Current Design Obsession: Animal Prints … as always.
Favorite Flower: Peonies and hydrangeas.
Favorite Indulgence: Anyone else blow-drying my hair!
Theresa Kuo | b.t. elements, www.btelements.com
Aesthetic of the Line: We always stay true to our core belief that good design should be clean, simple and remain timeless.
Current Bestseller: Our Whitmore invitation is the perfect mix of fun and sophistication and can be found in our newest Bar & Bat Mitzvah collection.
Personal Favorite: London from our letterpress collection. It’s amazing what you can do with just one font and one color of ink.
Surprise Hit: Harold was an instant hit. It incorporates bold, modern design as well as being completely functional. Yes, we also believe invitations should be functional, not just pretty to look at.
Iconic Selection: Our signature favor boxes, made to order in the color of choice, are certainly iconic to b.t.elements. No one does it quite like us.
Favorite Color: Pink
Current Design Obsession: Rediscovering the beauty of basic letterforms.
Favorite Flower: A white daisy. They are nothing more than what they are – simple, pure and innocent.
Favorite Indulgence: When you spend most of your waking hours running a small business, an evening at home with absolutely nothing to do becomes a priceless indulgence.