May 9, 2013 • Sarah Schwartz
Market Style Update: The Stroke of a Pen
Other than those depicted on product, if there’s an elephant in the room at National Stationery Show (NSS), it is this challenge, as voiced by Notes & Queries’ Vanessa Harnik: “How do we continue to make paper relevant in this era of iPads, iPhones and instant messaging?” The vice president of key accounts and product development continued, “Yet, each year, in spite of this challenge, the marketplace is filled with new paper designers. That is simply amazing and speaks to the power of paper and greeting cards!”
Much of the most meaningful and ultimately successful designs are personal, underlined Carolyn Suzuki of Carolyn Suzuki Goods. “Many designers are making things they love and want themselves. This is definitely how I approach all of my designs from season to season.”
Another major trend is product that is made in America; it can be the selling point to turn browser into buyer. “(There’s) lots of talk and products; hopefully it will turn into sales, since it comes with a higher price,” observed Jac Zagoory of Jac Zagoory Designs.
For many retailers, the key is not to please everyone, but knowing your brand and curating accordingly. If your venue is modern and sleek, only stock merchandise speaking to that aesthetic. There are so many stories being told in the industry — as our annual look at the baby, bridal, greeting card, office and holiday markets reveals — the trick is to pick one and tell it well.
The wedding market is all about cohesively expressing the couple’s personality. “Paper products have been trending towards personalized and unique imagery, to preview the event and tie the day together,” noted Amy Ruth Townsend, founder and designer, Amy Ruth Designs. “Every detail — Mr. & Mrs. Signs, gift tags, welcome bags — reminds guests of the theme of the day.”
What’s Hot: As a result, there are as many trend stories out there as there are couples, but one macro trend is gold, sometimes expressed via gold foil and combined with letterpress. “Gilded Gatsby inspired elegance will be making its way into wedding styling,” emphasized Deborah Hefter, co-founder and co-owner, Envelopments. “It was a beautiful time period and a fantastic era for elegant weddings.”
Also look for: Patterns and back patterns; chalkboard-inspired details; weddings that are pared-down in terms of accessories, but those chosen are exquisite and very functional; full-bleed solid color with white typography; oversize typography; lace; subdued colors; custom artwork featuring everything from portraits to initials and wedding date; and a return to nature.
Tried & True: Mixed types, especially scripts, using fantastic fonts; fun details like wax seals or thread or ribbons tied around invitations; navy blue; and fern and nautical motifs.
Designer Quote: “I find inspiration all around me — a building, a color palette, a piece of clothing, a photograph. Whatever catches my eye, I try to dissect what it is that drew me to it and transfer those qualities onto paper.” — Sue Corral, Page Stationery
“Right now what is becoming available in the baby market is really fun, on-trend design,” said Julie Schaffroth, founder and creative director, Vanilla Print. “You can see modern typography, color, pattern and sentiments. The selection has grown from traditional and cutesy to modern and on-trend.”
What’s Hot: Chalkboard and watercolor textures, transparencies, layers and brighter colors including neons. “We are seeing an increase in multi-photo birth announcements, large refined typography as an overlay on a full bleed photo and gender specific colors mixed with neutrals,” described Ashley Woodman of SimplyPut by Ashley Woodman.
Tried & True: Monograms of all types and traditional gender colors — sometimes updated by adding different shades of the color for a modern tone-on-tone look. Other popular icons: onesies, strollers, buttons, safety pins, strollers, bottles, baby shoes/booties, pacifiers, storks and ultrasounds. “All over patterns will never go out of style,” said B.T. Elements’ Theresa Kuo. “A pretty floral for girls or a bold stripe for boys.”
Designer Quote: “My inspiration comes from … well, everything. The best part of designing is seeing everyday objects and transforming it in different ways.” — Theresa Kuo, B.T. Elements
Whether handmade or letterpressed, a greeting card succeeds based on how well it celebrates the bond between two people via spot-on sentiment or humor. While fresh design is important, so is value, “something that exceeds their expectations,” Harnik said. “That value can be measured by the special treatments like foiling, embossing, debossing, cut outs and other 3-D elements.”
What’s Hot: “Bold graphics, soft lines, bold and cool colors are hot,” remarked Nicky Burton, owner and managing director, Calypso Cards. Then again, even unorthodox choices are welcome, added Egg Press’ Tess Darrow.
“We like to use colors that aren’t always traditional for specific occasions or holidays. Though we are sometimes influenced by the colors of the moment or season, we often find inspiration in colors that are a little off or ones (that) do not obviously complement one another.”
Also look for: Owls, foxes and squirrels as well as nostalgic icons like vintage radios and rotary phones.
Tried & True: Stripes, polka dots and patterns. “Sometimes a pattern can capture the mood of the sentiment better than words alone,” Darrow explained. Laser-cut designs, glitter and fun typography are also favorite elements.
Designer Quote: “We are inspired by other cultures, colors, textiles and by paper as a medium. We follow our hearts and think that it resonates. There is no set formula. This principle can apply to any market.” — Kara Yanagawa, Egg Press
Winter paper goodies take center stage in a home, if only temporarily, pointed out Nancy Dickson, creative director, The Gift Wrap Company: “We always look to fashion and home décor trends for our holiday lines. Trying to hit that sweet spot of where a design coordinates with current fashion is our goal. We want to (give) the consumer the option to create a gift display which complements their space and serves as an important part of the holiday decorating theme.”
What’s Hot: Gold, unusual materials like metal and plastic, glitter, typographic designs and foil stamping are all trends to watch, detailed Alison O’Keefe, owner, Allie Munroe. “We used light colored matte foils like white on earthy toned dark papers a lot this past season (and) expect to show more next season.”
Also look for: Textures garnered from chalkboard and Kraft looks as well as clever sayings and quotes. The rustic woodland luxe trend, reported Dickson, is typified by weathered and patina treatments, lovable critters and pretty woodland greens, all accented with sparkle and shine for an upscale finish. “It’s sort of an oxymoron, a combo of natural materials with accents of synthetics.”
Tried & True: Monograms; traditional reds, greens and metallics; hand-drawn types and calligraphy lettering; snowman and Christmas trees; vintage-tinged designs; and polka dots and stripes, be they multi-color, monocromatic or at any scale.
Designer Quote: “I’ve noticed a resurgence in clients wanting elaborate holiday photo cards. This is so refreshing after four to five years of scaling back. Customers seem to be in the know as far as letterpress and foil for the most part, and are willing to pay more for the gorgeous results.” — Rachelle Schwartz, Wiley Valentine
The worlds of work and home have lately greatly overlapped, making the quality of life in both spaces paramount, suggested Ben Busko of Ben’s Garden. “When you surround your life with pieces (that) personally speak to you, you (make) your space your own. Then you enjoy spending time there (and) are simply more comfortable and more productive.”
“Every little detail counts in this category,” agreed Kevin McNulty, creative director, ACCO Brands. “Something as small as the perfect color on an end-sheet, textured paper, the ideal font or a contrasting trim can delight and excite the end user.”
What’s Hot: Wood grain and animal prints; mixed fonts and icons; pattern play; and the ever-popular bling factor. “If it sparkles, it’s hot!”said Colin Littler, marketing director, Design Design.
Also look for: Metallic and leather touches, as well as wallpaper-inspired designs. “I am totally inspired by all things vintage wallpaper,” commented Marcia Leichter, designer. “Floral designs are my fave.”
Tried & True: Geometric patterns, chevrons, stripes and dots; clever gadgets and sleek portable electronics. The stylus market continues to trend strong. “Digitally oriented desks seem to be less cluttered with papers, so it is a chance for some very personal accessories to shine and speak volumes about one’s sophistication, hobbies or general interests,” stated Jac Zagoory, president, Jac Zagoory Designs.
Designer Quote: “We live in a world full of stuff, some essential, some special and a lot of it not. In order to uniquely distinguish and position Ben’s Garden in an ever-growing world of stuff, I find the personal touch and sincerity to be essential.” — Ben Busko, Ben’s Garden
Special thanks to: ACCO Brands; Allie Munroe; Amy Ruth Designs; Ben’s Garden; B.T. Elements; Calypso Cards; Carolyn Suzuki Goods; Design Design; Egg Press; Envelopments; Jac Zagoory Designs; Marcia Leichter; Notes & Queries; Page Stationery; simplyput by Ashley Woodman; The Gift Wrap Company; Vanilla Print; Wiley Valentine