Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen will be at show in person for GBCC greeting card launch
With his flamboyant dress, exuberant turn of phrase and lavish designs, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen knows how to flaunt the max out of maximalism, and he’s now turned his frills and flair to creating a range of greeting cards with The Great British Card Company (GBCC).
The lavish new card collection will be launched at next week’s Progressive Greetings Live trade exhibition – on Tuesday and Wednesday, 6-7 June, at the Business Design Centre – and Laurence will be there in person to add his own blend of exuberant style to the show.
There is only one Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, the master of style and substance, who has built up a widespread following for his elaborate design aesthetic, distinctive eloquent verbosity and adroitly-delivered witticisms.
Having achieved fame and a strong following from his 30-year TV career, notably through flexing his interior design skills on Changing Rooms he has returned to his fine art roots, setting up his own glamporium showroom in Cirencester, his hometown for the last 15 years, and sharing his design acumen through various collaborations.
As if primed, Laurence countered: “I suppose because I’ve been around for 2,000 years I am recognised, that said, I’m more frequently mistaken for David Grohl of Foo Fighters fame, Captain Hook or Dick Dastardly – the first has great kudos, the latter two less so!”
Somewhat at odds with his full-on persona, the collaboration with GBCC came about as a result of some chilled-out mooching by the publisher’s creative director Lucy Ledger.
“Lucy had recently joined GBCC, which is based locally to us, and happened to pop into our showroom. Lucy is great and it’s so lovely to be able to work with businesses on your doorstep, something which has definitely become more prevalent since Covid,” Laurence added.
The idea of collaborating on a collection of greeting cards was something that chimed with Laurence, both for personal and historical reasons.
“My wife Jackie and I have always been big greeting card senders, hoovering them up when we see something beautiful or a design we think would be perfect for someone we know,” he revealed.
“I feel proud to have been involved in developing a greeting card range with Hallmark back in 2002, which I still believe was very influential in that it took ornate damask and tapestry patterning, largely monochrome, into greeting cards.
Now, over two decades later and with the consumer’s pattern barrier lifted, Laurence has turned up the colour and luxurious flourishes with the designs for his inaugural GBCC greeting card collection which exudes his own richly-decorative fine art.
Laurence positively rejoices in his lavish creative outpourings, his burgeoning archive now bulging with thousands of pieces of his artworks, with some of his fine art pieces due to feature in a dedicated art exhibition later this September year.
“I greatly admire William Morris, but he only created 67 patterns in his lifetime. I have 2,500 designs in my collection and I’m still alive and creating! The explosion of digital printing makes it a very exciting time to be a creative. Instead of having to commit to reams and reams, I can be capricious and produce a single metre of special fabric if I so choose, which encourages wild experimentation,” said Laurence.
The master is also delighted fashion has caught up with his penchant for over-the-top patterning, quipping: “I am the original gangster of maximalism, it’s just lovely to see so many people joining me now! There’s room for everyone.”
Laurence accepts that pre-modernism was a period in the 20th century “when society needed to be equalised, but too much of the baby got thrown out with the bath water”, and to his mind, an obsession with “not wanting to be seen as bourgeois” meant a rejection of anything overly ornate.
Now he’s rejoicing that patterning from the past is being embraced by the consumer, as “historical art styles offer us the most extraordinary dressing-up box of opportunity which can then be combined with your own creative ideas,” and he feels very glad to be able plunge right into this veritable dressing-up box, as evidenced in the greetings range with GBCC.
“Tradition somehow has more meaning with consumers, irrespective of their age, and greeting cards are part of this. Greeting cards are a very important part of making and retaining relationships. The sending of a greeting card is not AI, it’s something real, based on real emotions, creativity and craftsmanship, and I feel privileged to being part of this,” said Laurence, spoken like a true greeting card gangster!
Laurence will be leaving his Glamporium to visit PG Live on the first day of the show, Tuesday June 6, arriving late morning and will be on GBCC’s stand 228 on the main mezzanine.
To attend the show, click here to register, with free refreshments, free lunch and free opening night party all part of the experience.
The full list of PG Live’s 200+ exhibitors can be found here and, for a taster of just some of the product newness that will be on show at PG Live, flick through the extended Innovations section in Progressive Greetings’ June edition by clicking here.
A longer article about the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen x GBCC collaboration appears in Progressive Greetings’ June edition, which can be read online by clicking here.
Top: Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen surrounded by maximalist loveliness