What We Loved At The 2017 National Stationery Show

by Erin Austen Abbott

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.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge
Bags from Sweet Bella feel vintage, mixed with clean and simple, modern lines.
National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Mid-century modern designs and illustrations from Pleased To Meet, based in Germany, fill these sweet travel bags.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

NYC-based Of Unusual Kind makes adorable, vintage-inspired paper dolls. Founder Anja has teamed up with various illustrators to create different clothes for each doll, giving them an updated twist.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

This card pulls from family ties. San Francisco-based Hello Lucky! made a series of cards from the block art of the founders’ aunt who passed away. She was an entomologist and also a talented artist. This ode to her is so endearing.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

This RAD DAD card is such a fun design, from Canadian line Banquet Workshop.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

I love a good drink recipe. These fun postcards from Florida brand, Idlewild Co. would be a great housewarming present.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Moving away from the traditional holiday colors, this beautiful Peace card takes on a twist with its colorways, from San Francisco’s Hello Lucky!

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

An ode to vintage-style cruise ships, Amy Heitman brings a bit of nostalgia with each design.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Vintage-inspired designs from Mr. Boddington’s Studio encourage and inspire you to get back to the art of letter writing.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge
Vintage-inspired design from Mr. Boddington's Studio is the perfect addition to any desk.
National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge
From the Banquet Workshop website, "We are all so moved by the resurgence of activism we have seen in the last year, this is our response to the spirit of change that's clearly in the air! A new favourite, our Radical Women screen print is inspired by the women who came before us, the feminists inspiring us today, and our sons and daughters who are up next. Including Judith, Gloria, Hillary, Michelle, Chimamanda, Susan, Carrie, Angela, Betty, Ruth, Kathleen, Raicho,Jane, bell, Dolores, Flo, Naomi, Winona, Doris, Audre, Wilma, Nellie, Cecile, Emmeline, Sylvia, Linda, Sophie, Patti, Elizabeth, Harriet, Mary, Virginia, Malala."
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I’m loving all the stripes I saw on cards and goods at NSS. This Christmas ornament from Gold Teeth Brooklyn is so sweet.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Grove Street Press, based in New Orleans, LA, is built around vintage designs. I’m loving this raincoat design.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Taking a page from her new book, Cat Seto of Ferme à Papier turned some French-inspired art into cards.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Portland, OR’s Egg Press are veterans in the world of paper goods. Their new Shape Study cards will continue to keep them on the list of emerging designs.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Hand painted notebooks are just a few things that Iowa-based designer, Moglea, brings to the emerging list at NSS.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge
More painterly designs from this year's National Stationery Show.
National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Painterly designs cover the clutches from Los Angeles-based Our Heiday.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Illustrations bring a new line of art cards from UK-based Wrap.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge

Sending a plant isn’t always the easiest. It is now, with these tiny vases and card, from Portland, OR based Tokketok.

National Stationery Show on Design*Sponge
A close-up of the tiny vases and cards Tokketok.

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  • I never knew there was a thing as a stationary show, so you taught me something. I remember the first time I ever recieved a plant in the mail. It was a baby spruce from a realtor with his business card on it. I planted it, but this was by far the coolest advertising promo I have ever received.

    Alexis|| https://lidsandtricks.com/

  • These are all amazing and beautiful! Thank you for reminding me I need to send mail to my people again.

  • I didn’t know there was a National Stationary Show, I’ll be sure to check it out next year. Thanks for introducing all of these new brands to me, they along look amazing!

  • Thank you for sharing! Had never heard of this show. And glad to see Eggpress featured. They provided the machines for my friend to use when she made my wedding invitations. They had really good customer service AND a great support system for fledgling designers. Really can’t say enough about them. Such a fun topic!