January 31, 2023 • Sarah Schwartz
Creativity, Conceptualized

Illustrator Chris King brought the ethereal peace of the forest to picturesque life for the newest collection from LEUCHTTURM1917.

LEUCHTTURM1917’s latest release activates the senses to think on paper

As every new year dawns, many stationery publishers agonize over their new releases, but having been in business for over a century, LEUCHTTURM1917 is guided by a crystal-clear mission. Now in its fourth generation of family stewardship, with Axel and Max Stürken at the helm of this Hanseatic, multi-award-winning company, at the heart of every release is the conviction that writing by hand is thinking on paper.

“Thoughts grow into words, sentences and pictures,” notes the company’s literature that reads more like prose than marketing copy. “Memories become stories. Ideas are transformed into projects. Notes inspire insight. We write and understand, learn, see and think — with the hand.”

This approach is summarized in the company tagline “Denken mit der Hand,” Philip Döbler, managing director of LEUCHTTURM1917, pointed out. “(This) German phrase expresses that we write, understand, see and think differently, probably better and more creatively if we take the pen to paper and think through our hands.”

With that lofty philosophy, the 2023 Find Your Nature collection invigorates the senses to jumpstart that process. Stationery Trends interviewed Döbler to learn more.


ST: How long did it take to bring the Leuchtturm1917 Natural Colors collection from drawing board to trade show and retail display?

PD: Usually we need eight months from the colors concept idea to the launch. These days, with the global supply chain hiccups in the U.S., Europe and Asia, we have to start about three months earlier. So time-to-market is almost 12 months — a true challenge.

ST: The collection is inspired by the natural world, but the colors selected — forest green, mint green, fox red and light gray — have a really lovely contrast to them when presented together. Were these specific shades selected first, and the collection developed around it? What kind of internal process goes into branding a collection through color as this brilliantly does?

PD: Wow, this is quite a complex process. We try to incorporate as much input as possible in the beginning and then distill a concept with our new colors in a multi-step process. It is a magic mix of teamwork and decisions of very few. Yes, we sometimes circle in one or two colors first. It helps to have a starting point.

LEUCHTTURM1917ST: We love the campaign design by Chris King! Can you provide any insight to the process by which he came up with the collection’s vibrant imagery?

PD: The colors inspire associations, and this often triggers a campaign idea which leads to a conversation with the artist who then translates it in his handwriting… the campaign visual.

ST: The image of the fox on the rocks by the forest waterfall is an especially gorgeous depiction of the idea of communing with nature. Was it selected from many potentials, or was that specific image envisioned from the start?

PD: There are endless ways to visualize the new colors, of course. This design is Chris King’s interpretation of the interaction of these four colors and our claim [of Denken mit der Hand]. What you see is genuine, and there was no alternative design.

ST: As always, your displays are exquisite, with all of them incorporating the lovely “find your nature” image and messaging, playing on the connection between the natural world and getting in touch with one’s true self. That is such a powerful tagline — was it devised early in the process, or later, as all the elements came together?

PD: This materialized in the moment our creative director saw the final colors and certainly indicated a direction for Chris King and his work.

ST: I love how this release includes the Drehgriffel Nr. 1 pen and Drehgriffel Nr. 2 pencil, as often American stationery releases don’t include writing implements. What do your American retailers who do better with the writing implements do that other retailers may not?

PD: The Drehgriffel is not just an accessory to our notebooks. The starting point was to develop a writing implement that has the potential to be sold as stand alone. It took us years and many design approaches to get there. To answer your question: Our retail partners understand this and allow us to present both, our Drehgriffel and notebooks each in their relevant environment, and the most successful ones connect both presentations with each other with communication and a certain physical proximity.

ST: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Stationery Trends readers?

PD: Enjoy! Enjoy what you do. Enjoy making up your own mind and take the time to enjoy the process of thinking with the hand.

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