From Sunday, May 18 through Wednesday, May 21, New York City's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was stirring with attendees for the 68th Annual signature mix marketplace, the nation's leading market for the social stationery industry and related lifestyle gifting. The tangible, savable, giftable pieces that were on display here bring meaning through words and design, and some of these brands are truly on the cutting edge of design. In an era of online communication and detached conversations, the stationery and greeting card industry is thriving, and you can look no further than the signature mix marketplace for proof.
Through three sections — Creative & Lifestyle Arts: tool , kits, embellishments and supplies for every creative pursuit; Gift>it: design-driven gift and lifestyle accessories, decorative objects, toys and more; and the National Stationery Show: greeting cards, invitations, paper products, and prints — the signature mix marketplace brought exciting change, including a partnership with Etsy Wholesale. It's the perfect marriage, really. Etsy represents the idea that a gift, an item, a piece of stationery becomes that much more special when establishing a relationship with the artist crafting it. The Etsy Wholesalers were sprinkled across the show floor and were some of my favorite booths.
At first glance, it was no surprise that the show was experiencing a refreshing revival, with experimental introductions, product rollouts, and beautifully designed booth layouts. The Javits Center was a buzz. In fact, the National Stationery Show experienced a 31 percent increase in attending stores for the event and featured nearly 800 exhibitors and some 11,000 attendees.
Trending throughout the show were bespoke desktop items, greeting cards with a Southern charm, Design-It-Yourself packs, travel-themed accessories and prints that are taking a cue from interior décor, elevating the home to a place of text-heavy design. Take a look back at our Market Trend Report we produced for readers following Day 1 of the show. In that report, we also mentioned a renaissance born from Pinterest and Etsy, inspiring buyers to take a step back from the modern commercialism and carefully select products with a homemade, arts-and-crafts feel.
Another incredible piece of the signature-mix-marketplace puzzle was their 18th Annual Best New Products Awards. Along with other industry specialists, we had the opportunity to judge nearly 500 exhibitor entries in various categories based on the innovation of product design or concept, how the product answers a specific industry need, the aesthetic appeal, the creative use of materials and the innovative packaging. Eight signature mix marketplace exhibitors were honored with the Best New Product Awards, and we were thrilled to take part in awarding such deserving companies.
Best of Show: Party Partners for their Mini Cake Decorating Kits — each kit made of paper, twine and wood picks, contains 5 cake toppers and mini flag bunting.
Luxury: Someday Designs. Their Gold Foil Luxury Stationery Set, available in several designs/color choices, as well as special order hand calligraphy for personalization, really impressed the judges.
All Things Wedding: Galison/Mudpuppy for their Wedding Party Photo Props, a personal favorite of mine. Keeping up with all wedding photo booth needs, these props are entertaining, adorable, and bring art into an everyday item.
Celebrations: Party Partners (again!) for their Mini Cake Decorating Kits.
Eco Chic: Thimblepress for their Eco-Friendly Push-Pop Confetti, a festive way to celebrate while being environmentally responsible. Not only is Thimblepress a letterpress studio, it's also an art studio, a woodworking studio, a sewing studio, a design studio, and anything these Jackson, Miss.-based girls want to try their hand at next.
Lifestyle: Twigg's Bindery for their In Rainbows Box Set, a dramatic façade of the box set, which captures the eye and imagination, making them an exceptional addition to any shelf.
The Desktop: Emily Ley. A personal favorite, Emily Ley's The Simplified Planner was designed by Ley to intentionally bring joy and simplicity to the lives of busy women. And does it ever.
Do It Yourself: Little B's Designer Cutting Dies allow the user to mix and match shapes and inserts to create endless possibilities, made especially for the DIY audience.
Paper Love: Pink Orchid Press for their Connect the Dots Collection — letterpress printed on fluffy cotton paper in scarlet red and midnight black inks.
These brands, products and companies all represent the heart of what the stationery industry strives for. Constantly producing fresh designs with the efficiency and functionality that consumers look for, these products embody the best of what was new this year, and from our editors' eyes to yours, we believe these are sure to fly off the shelves.
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