January 6, 2015 • Sarah Schwartz
10 Designers to Watch in 2015
Check out these stars on the rise, plus established players who continually surprise
Gia Graham | Betsywhite Stationery, www.betsywhite.com
Clean, clever and very colorful, this upbeat range hits the exact notes young stationery shoppers are seeking.
Aesthetic of the Line: My collection walks the line between modern simplicity and whimsical charm. With bold typography, engaging color palettes and hand-drawn details, the line takes a new school approach to classic design.
Current Bestseller: The “I Hate This” card. I think people like that it’s a heartfelt but matter-of-fact sympathy card without trite sentiment.
Personal Favorite: The Mail Flair stickers, especially the Flair Flags. Maybe it’s the ’80s-sticker-collecting kid in me, but I’m obsessed.
Surprise Hit: The trio of “Decades” birthday cards (’70s, ’80s and ’90s), particularly the 1980s card. It’s one of those designs that I went back and forth about keeping. I’m glad I did.
Iconic Selection: The Best Couple Ever card. It’s clean, simple, modern but still classic … and the little gold heart adds just the right amount of sweetness and charm.
Favorite Color: I’ve been really fond of warm gray lately and use it entirely too often. It’s such a perfect neutral.
Current Design Obsession: Minimalist posters. I’m always impressed when a designer can convey emotion or tell a story in such a precise and succinct way.
Favorite Flower: Tulips! Always and forever.
Favorite Indulgence: Food. Specifically any and all types of fried dough. Hide your donuts. And funnel cake.
This artisan single-handedly breathed new life into blank books, underscoring that they should be as vibrantly crafted as the thoughts, sketches and memories within.
Aesthetic of the Line: Our handmade books have a unique, functional design. Exposed bindings add beautifully clean, simple lines.
Current Bestseller: Small 5-by-5-inch leather books. This was the first book I designed for myself. The square shape coupled with its compact size makes it a draw for many.
Personal Favorite: The Extra Large Leather Book. I love its commanding presence. I begin a new one each year, challenging myself to fill it with my most substantial work.
Surprise Hit: The Rainbow Box Set. I’ve been so pleased to hear all the creative, personal ways people are using them.
Iconic Selection: The Spectrum Hardback Collection, made up of 18 brilliant colors that encompass the visual spectrum. I love watching people discover and connect to their color. Having such a wide selection makes each feel as unique as the individual who possesses it.
Favorite Color: Bright orange, it stays in trend all year round.
Current Design Obsession: Indigenous design and building methods. I’m fascinated by how things are constructed without machinery or contemporary material processes.
Favorite Flower: My family owned and operated Twigg’s Greenhouse in Ohio for a few generations. The sight and smell of bright red geraniums always take me back.
Favorite Indulgence: Tools I don’t yet need, but want to need. I seem to always find justification to have more — even if I haven’t figured out how or when I will use them.
Kristen Ley | Thimblepress by Kristen Ley, www.thimblepress.com
The creative force behind this dynamic range puts her joyous, artful spin on each creation, garnering her a devoted and huge following on Instagram and other social media.
Aesthetic of the Line: Every product is hand-drawn or painted by me and hand-packaged by my awesome team in our downtown Jackson, Mississippi studio. We want to create solutions, emphasize and celebrate some of life’s smallest, but greatest, events and happenings. We know life is meant to be enjoyed, and one philosophy of mine is to “celebrate the good, simple and unexpected!” I love color and lights, and my love for color runs deep in almost every product we create. I want my products to make people happy, feel good or even just feel loved by someone else.
Current Bestseller: Champagne and blow bubbles card with letterpress gold detailing.
Personal Favorite: Je t’aime rose gold foil and embossed card featuring my original painting in the background.
Surprise Hit: Willow Doodle Hug Card.
Iconic Selection: You Are My Sunshine letterpressed card.
Favorite Color: I go through periods where one color is loved more than others. For the past few years, light mint green, has been my go to. The closest (PMS) to minty-white would be PMS 566.
Current Design Obsession: Clean white walls, vintage brass anything and pops of color. I’ve repainted my studio walls all white recently. I feel like (they) make for a brighter space, especially when sunlight beams in through the windows.
Favorite Flower: I love lilies, but I have a cat, so I can’t keep them around. I also love Queen Anne’s Lace, peonies and hydrangeas.
Favorite Indulgence: Traveling for fun, but day to day I would say either a night of Netflix where you have an entire season or (even better) two of a show ready and waiting to be watched, or a day of finding treasures at flea markets.
Cat Seto | Ferme à Papier, www.fermeapapier.com
You’ve heard of farm to table, Cat Seto’s Ferme à Papier, or Farm to Paper, collection infuses stationery with delectable, painterly flair.
Aesthetic of the Line: Ferme à Papier is an illustrated collection inspired by everyday joys. Its mood is Paris meets Brooklyn and takes on both a modern and artisanal feel. The eco-friendly collection is printed on 100 percent PCW paper.
Current Bestseller: Our foiled Palms Thank You was a summer release but has been strong all year long.
Personal Favorite: Apricot Hat Girl. I thought of my dearest girl friends when I sketched this.
Surprise Hit: Our eco desk calendars are about places of “wander,” and we work with local craftsmen to create our walnut bases.
Iconic Selection: The Woman in Coat card was one of the first sketches I illustrated after I came back from my first trip to Paris. It represents freedom and exploration.
Favorite Color: Navy is our black. The richer and deeper, the better.
Current Design Obsession: Neutral, minimal office supplies. I’ve been on an organization kick lately.
Favorite Flower: Peonies are just gorgeous. They often appear in beautiful Japanese tattoos alongside Koi fish.
Favorite Indulgence: Ice cream. People always think I’m joking when I say the only diet I’ll go on is an ice cream diet, but I’m dead serious.
Eliza Gwendalyn | Eliza Gwendalyn, www.elizagwendolyn.com
Hand-lettering continues its reign of popularity, and this artisan creates distinctive, fanciful takes on the art form.
Aesthetic of the Line: Eliza Gwendalyn aspires to preserve the magical art and craftsmanship of calligraphy in a world where uniform type and impersonal emails are replacing handwritten notes, snail mail and love letters. We dedicate ourselves to crafting individually embellished, embossed and glittered products for weddings and events.
Current Bestseller: Our custom monogram crest. Clients customize them by picking floral motif and letters.
Personal Favorite: The menus and table numbers that I hand letter on mirrors, chalkboards, slates and wood slabs.
Surprise Hit: Hand-painted, Swarovski crystal table numbers.
Iconic Selection: Our Half+Half wedding invitation suite. The client names and monogram are hand-lettered by me, and the rest of the design is printed. It’s perfect for clients on a budget.
Favorite Color: Our brand color, a pale pink we refer to as vintage rose, Pantone Coated 1767.
Current Design Obsession: Calligraphy and all things hand lettered. The movement of the pen to paper is so therapeutic, like watching a ballerina gracefully dancing across the paper stage.
Favorite Flower: It’s hard to just pick one, but if I had to, I would say the gardenia. It’s so delicate, like calligraphy, and who can resist its sweet scent? A close second would be pink peonies. I always have an arrangement on my desk when they’re in season.
Favorite Indulgence: I love to indulge in a sexy pair of Jimmy Choos, a delicious Napa valley wine, and a hot steamy bath, not in that order.
Bonnie Marcus | Bonnie Marcus Collection, www.bonniemarcus.com
With licensing domain constantly expanding, the reach of this fashion-driven brand, a celebrity favorite, continues to intensify.
Aesthetic of the Line: With a background working with Diane Von Furstenberg, I’ve always had a “passion for fashion.” The Bonnie Marcus Collection launched in 2002 because there was a void in the market in terms of fashion-forward, stylish stationery. Over the years, we’ve expanded to books (15 out this year), fashion accessories and apparel.
Current Bestseller: Our Balloon Girl design, available as a birthday card with fun sparkle embellishments through American Greetings, as well as through Bonnie Marcus Collection as a custom party invitation.
Personal Favorite: Our Couple Silhouette stamp, part of our new collaboration with PSA Essentials.
Surprise Hit: Our Love at First Sight Sonogram Frame. I launched it seven years ago when I was pregnant and realized that there wasn’t a fun, fashionable frame to hold a sonogram.
Iconic Selection: My Fashion Style Book (published by Parragon) is iconic of everything my brand represents (and) features many of our illustrations.
Favorite Color: Do sparkles count as a color? With three little boys, I balance out all of blue at home with my favorite color HOT PINK at the design studio.
Current Design Obsession: Nail art. I have a new Nail Design book coming out through Parragon that features our illustrations and patterns on nail embellishments and stickers.
Favorite Flower: Anything my little boys give me from our garden, especially our pink roses.
Favorite Indulgence: Date night. It’s easy to get lost in all the to-do’s of my business and family. Having a Saturday out with my husband is my reward for a successful week.
Sarah McCoy | The Permanent Collection, www.thepermanentcollection.net
This letterpresser’s offerings have a timeless feel that pays homage to the art form’s history while still feeling completely fresh.
Aesthetic of the Line: Letterpress work that gives a nod to American printing roots while also paying close attention to contemporary typography. I seek to make distinctive work and because of the quality of materials and design, it will stand the test of time.
Current Bestseller: Lately holiday cards or city-specific cards.
Personal Favorite: Goldfinch, it’s our state bird and I love the graphic quality of the yellow and black together.
Surprise Hit: Farm Sweet Farm Print. I created it originally as a custom project for a client and then had a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm pick it up and has been a strong seller from there.
Iconic Selection: My Bike Series. I am always celebrating the bicycle.
Favorite Color: Red. Always. PMS 199
Current Design Obsession: Printing stripes and debossing quiet elements.
Favorite Flower: Hollyhocks, my Granddad grew them on his farm. They are a reminder of him and carefree summer days.
Favorite Indulgence: Time spent hiking or snowshoeing with my husband and daughters. Lattes and Belgian beers.
Emily Ley | Emily Ley, www.emilyley.com
This design dynamo’s mission to organize and add meaning to women’s busy lives has elevated her into a social media sensation.
Aesthetic of the Line: Our brand is inspired by my life as a mama, wife and career gal. It’s clean, minimal and colorful to encourage women to build joy and simplicity into every day.
Current Bestseller: Our Simplified Planner. After the birth of our first child, my life was flipped on its head. This tiny ball of goodness demanded more of me than I thought I had to give. Learning to walk the tightrope that is working motherhood, I created the Simplified Planner to give myself a fresh start every morning — a place to hold my schedule, to-do list even our dinner plans.
Personal Favorite: Outside our Simplified Planner, it’s our Simplified Journal. In the evenings, I often found myself lying awake staring at the ceiling just spinning with ideas, forgotten to-dos and memories. I created the Simplified Journal to capture all the swirling thoughts that overwhelm us from time to time.
Surprise Hit: I work from a home office, and I craved an organized, happy space. (So) I designed a collection of Memory and Magazine Boxes. They’ve really taken off like crazy.
Iconic Selection: Our “Grace Not Perfection” print sells year-round. It’s a phrase that’s meant a lot to me over the years and something women of all ages can relate to.
Favorite Color: Oh, this is so hard for me. Kelly green. No, navy. No… coral pink. It’s so fun and still classic.
Current Design Obsession: Minimalism. Gorgeous use of open white space. It just makes me feel like I can breathe when it’s done just right.
Favorite Flower: Tulips. All day long. Bright pink ones.
Favorite Indulgence: Pink Starbursts. Red wine. Mid-afternoon naps on the weekend. In that order.
Karla Cushman | Kleinfeld Paper, www.kleinfeldpaper.com
Thanks to its creative director’s savvy vision, the invitation house that evolved from Manhattan’s premier bridal gown emporium anticipates and reflects consumer trends just as well as its apparel counterpart.
Aesthetic of the Line: Kleinfeld Paper wedding stationery honors the importance of a couple’s wedding with timeless looks they will cherish decades in the future. Inspiration, such as art, interiors and of course fashion, is elegantly translated to products that are as much about the exquisite paper and fine printing as the designs themselves.
Current Bestseller: Unity, a classic suite with the added drama of light engraving on black paper.
Personal Favorite: I come from a nautical family so I have a soft spot in my heart for our Maritime wedding invitation suite.
Surprise Hit: The black and white Whimsical Charm suite.
Iconic Selection: Wedding Heraldry is the perfect example of classic with a twist.
Favorite Color: PMS 5415. A medium-value grey-blue that is mysterious, calming, sophisticated and versatile. I got married on Cape Cod, so it was an obvious choice for my wedding color.
Current Design Obsession: While trite, I could not live without my daily dose of Pinterest. The moment I open the app, my head starts racing with new ideas.
Favorite Flower: White Spider Mums because of their bold graphic look and chartreuse centers.
Favorite Indulgence: Trips to Europe with my husband Matt. We drink in all of the different cultures, especially their art, architecture, and food. So many good memories and endless inspiration.
Rebecca Ashby | The Pink Orange, www.thepinkorange.com
This compendium of both custom and ready-to-wear offerings melds luxe touches to clean presentations, not an easy effect to achieve!
Aesthetic of the Line: Simple with a twist of rock ‘n’ roll. This has been the way I’ve always described my own personal style. I love to infuse it into everything I design.
Current Bestseller: Anything with an ampersand on it continues to be included in four out of five orders.
Personal Favorite: The Rio Carnival suite from our ready-to-order line. (Whether) letterpressed, foiled or a combination of, it continues to impress.
Surprise Hit: My “It would be an honor” card. It came (about) because it was originally designed for one of my brides. I decided to include it in our line sheet (and it) continues to be a sell out.
Iconic Selection: When designing for weddings and events, I love taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary for the one special day.
Favorite Color: Anything in the purple family.
Current Design Obsession: Oh boy. Where do I begin? I have many mini-messages to myself on my phone or in my sketchbook for my brain dumps. Currently I’m obsessed with expanding the home office and art prints collection. They’ve both been doing so well I can’t help but to add to it.
Favorite Flower: A big bunch of peonies.
Favorite Indulgence: Is it bad that I have so many? In no particular order, ice cream, shoes and of course paper and stationery!
— By Sarah Schwartz, editor