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Domestics & Stationery

Living Coral: 2019 NSS, NY Now & Surtex Edition

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CORAL, as in: Conscientious, Organized, Retro, and Animated Living. From the floor of the 2019 National Stationery Show (NSS), Retail Renaissance NY Now, and Surtex, TLL brings you the latest in home, stationery, and surface design trends.

This year, all three shows were held simultaneously in New York City’s Jacob Javits Center. And despite a date move (about a month earlier than usual), exhibitors reported healthy crowds.

Living Conscientiously

To start, as a general trend covering all consumer goods—shoppers aren’t just looking at product quality and cost, but also are considering whether a product is manufactured in an environmentally conscious and/or socially responsible manner. In the past, it was enough for a product to be cause-driven (e.g., donate a certain percentage of profits to charity).

Today, an increasingly-connected consumer is demanding greater supply chain transparency. It’s not enough that a nail polish (TLL counted three separate water-based, ethically-sourced nail polish brands on the floor), for example, is made out of all-natural ingredients—are those ingredients not procured through slave or child labor? Sustainable? Non-toxic? What about the packaging—is that recycled, too?

Living Organized

Despite this trend towards sustainability, that doesn’t mean paper products like greeting cards, calendars, and stationery are out entirely. (Just, manufacturing is getting better about it.)

There are roughly two groups of consumers pushing paper—the core or traditional base of Boomers aged 55-plus, and Millennials in their 20s and 30s who are, as first-time exhibitor MAILennia self-defines, “a person who was raised in the digital era, but has a shameless love for paper products.” (Ed. note: Don’t use your trademark as a noun. Or a verb. Use it as an adjective. If you want it to stay as a mark, anyway.)

This new, younger base is seeking out brand new formats for the journal and personal planner to help organize its goals and optimize its time (versus the traditional annual, which still sells well among the soccer mom crowd). A defining key point of these products is that they require some time-intensive personalization: the author typically spends a good amount of time contemplating, drawing, and lettering.

For licensees like The LANG Companies, one way to capture the younger base is by working with up-and-coming artists from social media, who come with a built-in fan base and actively help to promote their lines.

On the other hand, Kineticards is infusing tech elements into the traditional greeting card, without losing the paper touch, by adding augmented reality (AR) elements.

In home decor, small appliances, and accessories, this trend takes its form in products that are multi-functional, compact, and—rather than being easily storeable—look good out on display (who has the time or space to store things, anyway?).

Living Retro

Far from being on the outs, retro subjects and themes remain firmly in demand. Everything from classic prints to furniture designs is getting traction. We cover some erstwhile personalities Americans seem to be eager to take their cue from here.

Classic workmanship is also an aspect of this trend, with handmade (or as close enough as you can get it) becoming increasingly popular. In keeping with this trend, asymmetrical or otherwise slightly imperfect designs were preferred. In surface design, woodland and nature themes have replaced the classic farmhouse. But don’t worry—it’s still retro.

In kitchen and dining, stainless steel and plastic are out in favor of materials with an Old World flavor but a modern twist: ceramics, wood, and cast iron. Think analogue design, but upgraded to electric instead of being hand-powered. Despite the trend towards bright colors described below, the trend in home furnishings and decor was towards more muted tones such as burnished and matte metallics like bronze or steel, rich creams, faded greys, and soft primary tones.

While handkerchiefs aren’t going to be making a comeback (beyond the bachelorette party crowd, per one exhibitor with a bold selection), Fydelity is serving up fanny packs in dozens of colors and prints as well as cassette tape-inspired wallets.

Living Animated

When it comes to color schemes, everyone’s taking their cue from Pantone’s color of the year, Living Coral—a bright, upbeat tone that shows up everywhere from makeup to notebooks to cutlery. In home, the color is used as an accent in a muted, sophisticated setting to show some personality. Note that the only officially licensed product we saw on the show floor was from the delightful Brown Trout Publishers.

The pink-orange tone isn’t the only one being used—any variant on the color spectrum will do. Vivid surface designs that use bold colors are popular in printed textiles and paper goods.

But the biggest entry in our animated living trend is metallics—gold, and to a smaller extent silver and bronze, is playing a role not only as an accent, but as the main attraction in everything from purses to pillows.



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