November 9, 2021 •
The Ultimate Resource
Across its many brands, Design Group Americas delivers stellar style that resonates.
Design Group Americas has many familiar, storied brands that shine strongly on their own as they unite into one impressive crown. Together, LANG, Artisan by LANG, The Gift Wrap Company, Wallies, C.R. Gibson and NIQUEA.D, among others, combine to exert a certain ubiquity in the contemporary stationery marketplace.
Yet every SKU under its broad roof shares a certain unifying quality, explained Julie Smith, CMO – Design Group Americas, Upscale & Specialty Division. “There is a reason we are called Design Group – design is at the heart of everything we do. Our studios are leaders of trend, product and retail knowledge, which is reflected in our diverse design capabilities. We have the best designers in the industry with expertise in working with surface pattern, illustration, packaging, photography and 3D visualization, and we have the capability to apply and translate licensor style guides into commercial product across all formats. We partner with on-brand, talented and popular artists to create curated, art-driven product collections.”
Stationery Trends interviewed Smith to learn more.
Broadly speaking, what are the category and design trends consumers crave right now?
JS: Inspirational messaging and uplifting artwork are around to stay! Given what the world has experienced with the pandemic, consumers have shifted their mindset to wellness, both physically and mentally. We see this playing out across all of our categories and brands and don’t see this going away anytime soon. We’ve also seen a focus on gifting – to loved ones, friends, family – experiencing a renewed interest, which we feel ties back to consumers embracing that uplifting mindset in the midst of a pandemic. In addition, as consumers have spent more time at home both for work and with loved ones, we continue to see home décor/home improvements being around today.
Should we expect these trends to continue to develop?
JS: It goes back to the pandemic and the entire world experiencing a shift towards acceptance and wellness. Gifting, too, feels as though it will stay top of mind, as we all continue to show appreciation and gratitude. We do feel that these will continue to develop as social and cultural influences.
Please share a bit about the new C.R. Gibson Branding Mark. What is the intention behind it, and what highlights should retailers specifically look out for?
JS: Our new C.R. Gibson Signature line is a relaunch of our iconic brand into the upscale channel. While we will still have a strong presence in the mass market under the C.R. Gibson brand, it was important and intentional for our customers and our consumers to know that C.R. Gibson Signature is a step up and exclusive to the upscale channel, with a new focus on design, development and innovation. Retailers should be on the lookout for new product launches, new product formats and new design across stationery, baby and partyware.
LANG is all about exquisite, artist-driven designs from different backgrounds and perspectives. Can you speak to this importance?
JS: Artists are so very important to what we do at LANG that it’s our tagline: We Start with Great Art! We LOVE our artists, over 70 of them! It’s equally as important to partner with artists with diverse backgrounds and styles. This way we can provide our customers, and ultimately the consumer, with the look they want for their items, whether a calendar, Christmas card or even a coffee mug. We are always looking for new artists and styles to complement the LANG product line!
NIQUEA.D has been an exciting release! For those unfamiliar with it, can you provide some background?
JS: Founded by Dominique Schurman, NIQUEA.D is charting a future shaped by modern, relevant and elegant design for the sophisticated consumer. The brand encompasses products that are high quality, unique, and worthy of sharing or collecting. We have launched this year with a curated line of premium greeting cards. Designed for those who live in daydreams, embrace beauty, seek adventure and celebrate life’s journey, NIQUEA.D believes in a world where moments, relationships and gestures of kindness are always noteworthy.
Wallies is such a fun brand — I have enjoyed watching its evolution for years. Has the huge popularity of vinyl stickers spurred recent releases?
JS: Over the past year, our product focus with Wallies has been on home/ office organization with dry erase and chalkboard wall decals, children’s educational wall décor/decals, and the addition of our new baby wall décor/ decals. The driver behind this was in response to how we navigated through work-from-home and school-from-home lifestyles due to COVID. Our future development will include inspiration from the popularity of vinyl stickers, as we have plans to introduce themed vinyl sticker assortments as part of our new 2022 product launches. In addition, we will be offering individual wall decal icon sets in a variety of themes — such as rainbows, sprinkles and stars — offering the consumer a way to customize and personalize their home/office walls, baby nurseries, furniture and more.
The Gift Wrap Company’s ArtLifting collection does just that — elevates every gift into a work of art. But it has a cause-related element as well, creating a path of financial stability for artists. Can you share other ways you help advance its mission to “make their invisible talents visible?”
JS: In their own words, “ArtLifting is about creating opportunity, empowerment, and validation.” We offer artists the chance to secure their own income through the sale of original paintings, prints, and products. By showcasing and selling artwork via ArtLifting, artists gain self-confidence that permeates all aspects of their lives. As a social enterprise and benefit corporation, we are using “business for good.” Every artist earns 55% of the profit from the sale of their work; 1% from each sale goes to a fund, which provides art supplies to art groups nationwide; and ArtLifting uses the remaining 44% to further our mission. We realize that in order to make sustainable change, we need to run a financially sustainable business. Sales of our Artlifting product line contribute to our mission to “make their invisible talents visible” through retailer and online placement.
Can you give us any sneak peeks into any of these brand ‘22 introductions?
JS: Be on the lookout for some great things from the Design Group in 2022! At C.R. Gibson, we are launching a license with influencer and creator Kailo Chic to bring her bright rainbow color palette into holiday décor and desk accessories. Within the core celebrations line, we are focused on making eco changes within our packaging to reduce or eliminate plastic, and we’re developing a new line of entertaining pieces focused on sustainable, recyclable product. We have some exciting introductions planned with our Baby line too: a new Classic/Luxe Memory & Milestone Collection that includes our best-selling core formats: Memory and Photo Books and Keepsake Calendars, along with new gift pieces that can easily be personalized with baby’s name and important milestone dates. Within our Kitchen categories, we are excited to launch two new collections, one partnering with artist Lisa Audit!On the LANG side of the business, we are expanding into advent/countdown calendars, which complement our dated and Christmas business, along with signing on new artists!