Winter 2020
Stationery Status Quo By Sarah Schwartz

Our design abecedary delves deep into the consumer mindset

Let’s face it, Americans love stuff. According to the LA Times, there are 300,000 items in the average U.S. home, and we don’t have the space for it; our 50,000-plus storage facilities number over five times the amount of Starbucks, notes the Self Storage Association. And research indicates that the amount of goods each individual consumes has doubled in the last 50 years. 

But the pendulum always swings sooner or later, and consumers are starting to be more discerning about their acquisitions. So what are we craving exactly, other than novelty? When it comes to stationery, authenticity immediately sets offerings apart. Clean designs echo our desire for organized spaces, yet the air of retro still exhibits appeal. Keep reading for more design insights into the current consumer mindset. 

A. Authenticity.

I regard this as more of a millennial trend that thankfully caught on! It’s no wonder that in our era of “fake news” accusations, the genuine is elevated and appreciated.

Hazel + Dolly Greeting Card
Hazel + Dolly

B. Black and White.

I’m hopeful that this trend mirrors the unity within America’s diverse melting pot, not an inability to question one’s beliefs.

Girl of All Work Washi Tape
Girl of All Work

C. Clean.

With all our clutter, there’s a fresh appreciation for simple lines and scaled-back styling.


D. Deconstructivism.

Combine the clean trend with attention on organic shape and material, and the effect is absolutely artful!

22STUDIO's Merge Tape Dispenser

E. Extreme Situations.

With authenticity, we reexamine what was previously considered an “ugly truth” — and we can even make it beautiful!

Beat This Card from Girl W/Knife
Girl W/Knife

F. Fantastic Planet.

That which simultaneously celebrates the earth in both design and manufacturing practices finds a most captive audience.

Michael Roger
Michael Roger

G. Gold.

This precious metal continues to exhibit mass appeal and form the framework of many a best-seller!

Woodvale Studios
Woodvale Studios

H. Hand-Lettering.

This trend has overlapped into the DIY niche — and offers manifold opportunities for savvy retailers.


I. Introverts.

Overlooked for years — just as they would prefer! — this personality type is literally all around you just waiting to find merchandise that speaks to just them.

Katie Vaz
Katie Vaz

J. Just like a Painting.

The touch of a painterly hand infuses merchandise with an artful vibe.

Greenleaf Signature Reed Diffuser

K. Kaleidoscope of Collage.

Forget grade school scissors and jagged edges! In the hands of today’s makers, these assemblages infuse stationery with precise and very pleasing presentations.

Inkwell Cards
Inkwell Cards

L. Letterpress Packaging.

Getting into different gift categories is natural and expansion for the letterpresser, and one for which they are perfectly suited!

Smudge Ink
Smudge Ink

M. Mod.

The 1970s and 1960s are impacting fashion — so it wasn’t long before that design would impact our domain!

Here Comes The Sun Personal Planner from Workman

N. Not Your Mother’s Merchandise.

Profanity and vernacular are appealing due to their novelty and authenticity — just make sure the presentation is as smart as the language!

Smarty Pants Paper Co
Smarty Pants Paper Co.

O. Office with Sass.

These look like regular office supplies at first, but they infuse work environments with levity and style!

Tiramisu Pens

P. Planners.

Be they dated, undated, spanning the academic or calendar year, their increasing numbers each year is testament to the idea that some things are still best written down.

Happy Is The Only Plan from Compendium

Q. Quirky.

Authenticity brings with it an open embrace of our individualities — our passions, eccentricities and distinctive approaches to life.

Aqua Vespa from Carpe Diem Papers
Carpe Diem Papers

R. Rainbow.

These meteorological phenomena are visually appealing, but their meaning to and acceptance of the LBGBT population lends these designs a deeper dose of meaning.

Tombow Mono Edge Highlighters

S. Straws.

Meet the next essential eco-friendly accessory — straws! These will be heading en masse to a cash register near you.

Straws from Gem Water

T. Techno-Accessories.

Dressing our electronics has become a bona fide industry niche!

Mrs. Grossman’s Paper Co.
Mrs. Grossman’s Paper Co.

U. Unplugged.

Conversely, appreciating the stillness and wisdom that can arise from powering down is not without appeal.


V. Very Organized.

Thanks to all our clutter, the $8 billion home organization industry has more than doubled since the early 2000s and is growing at a staggering 10 percent each year, according to Uppercase. Claim your stake!

Archive Collection from Savor

W. Watercolor Hits Home Décor.

Usually gift trends travel to stationery, not the other way around, but here is a merchandising-friendly crossover for the card and gift shop!

Mud Pie
Mud Pie

X. Xtreme Statements.

If jewelry is not to be streamlined and ultra-modern, it goes in the entirely opposite direction in this bifurcated market!

Queen Bee Earrings from John Wind
John Wind

Y. Young Feminists.

Infusing young girls with pride in their personhood is a major, Mom-led movement.

Love Bubbly
Love Bubbly

Z. Zest for Color, Shape & Line.

In the end, stationery is a domain of design; those who cherish correspondence remain devoted to sharing what visually speaks to them along with their innermost thoughts.

Stationery from BiBA Letterpress Studio
BiBA Letterpress Studio

Sarah Schwartz

Social Connections

Gift Shop Plus Fall 2023
Get one year of Gift Shop Plus in both print and digital editions for just $16.

Interested in reading the print edition of Gift Shop Plus?

Subscribe Today »

website development by deyo designs