Back in 2010, I went to my first National Stationery Show in New York City. It was packed, booth after booth, aisle after aisle, with thousands of people filling the top floor of the Javits Center. It was paper heaven and I wanted to look at everything! I took four days to cover the whole show, but I saw it all. I’ve been almost every year since, rarely missing NSS. I love seeing all the new items, connecting with the makers, and finding those trends and gems. This year, the show moved downstairs to the smaller area of the Javits, switching places with ICFF, a show that also takes place at the same time as NSS each year in May. It wasn’t packed like years past, but the message I kept hearing from buyers and booths alike was “quality over quantity.” There was enough quality to fill several posts here on Design*Sponge, but I rounded up some of my favorites and want share a few of the emerging trends I spotted at the show.
Something about letter writing in the time of so much technology leaves me nostalgic. I was an avid letter writer as a child, from writing to friends while at summer camp, to my weekly exchanges with my grandmother. When I used to travel for work, I would stockpile postcards from my travels and mail one to every friend I had. The joy of getting a card in the mail, knowing that the card was handmade (from maybe a person working out of their garage) — in this day and age — makes me so happy. As I wandered the rows of booths at NSS this year, I felt a pull back to the art of letter writing from years past. From the vintage inspired art on the cards to actual stationery sets, like the ones from Mr. Boddington’s Studio featured below, letter writing is here to stay. So, grab a pencil, because that’s also the hot new thing, and get to writing. It will make the recipient’s day and you might just get one back.
Along with the vintage designs that jumped out at me, hand painted and art illustrated cards and designs were prevalent throughout the booths. The hand-brushed art made its way onto clutches, like from Our Heiday to the painterly looks from Moglea, by way of cards, notebooks and art prints. Seeing artists take their fine art backgrounds and turn them into full fledged businesses is inspiring to say the least.
I also saw so many new artists showing for the first time, as well as a lot of European lines, which all wowed me. I like this new direction of paper goods: quality over quantity. I’m already booking my visit for next year… I’ll be back for sure. —Erin
Photography by Erin Austen Abbott
Image above: Cotton candy-scented pencil box, filled with pink pencils from Hadron Epoch.