Talent and talented at Top Drawer

PaperAwards winners revealed and Cath Kidson talks collaborations


Celebrating talent and hearing from the talented was evident at this week’s Top Drawer S/S, as winners of the PaperAwards were announced, while Cath Kidson and Toni Murphy were among the RetailFest guests.

Greeting card publishers Alphablots, Elsa Rose Frere, HeraldBlack and Raspberry Blossom claimed the honours in the PaperAwards at this week’s three-day show organised by Clarion Events, which ended on Tuesday, 17 January, at London’s Olympia.

Above: Raspberry Blossom’s Rebecca Green
Above: Raspberry Blossom’s Rebecca Green

Having announced the 27-strong shortlist across the four categories before Christmas, judging took place live at Top Drawer, and show manager David Westbrooke said the judges – who included The Design Museum’s buying and merchandising manager Preena Patel, and Sarah Holmes, founder of Elgin indie retailer Pencil Me In – had a hard time making the decisions as “the talent seen across our exhibitors truly is second to none”.

Above: Stephen Dow of HeraldBlack
Above: Stephen Dow of HeraldBlack

David added: “We’re thrilled to have hosted the PaperAwards this week – a truly special celebration of innovation, imagination and individuality in one of our most exciting and creative show areas. The talent seen across our exhibitors truly is second to none.

“We were touched to see how many industry-leading buyers and experts jumped at the opportunity to join our judging panel for the return of the PaperAwards, a true testament to the connection and community that sits at the heart of Top Drawer.”

Above: Elsa Rose Frere with her Sending Hugs design
Above: Elsa Rose Frere with her Sending Hugs design

In Exciting Use Of Colour, the judges commended winner Alphablots’ “fun approach to design” and highlighted how much they enjoyed owner Sarah Lewis bringing “something fun and different” to the market. And they named three runners-up – Cath Tate Cards, Archivist and Mahin Hussain – because the standard was so high.

Newbie HeraldBlack won Engaging Print, with Matere Designs and Mahin Hussain as runners-up, and the judges said they were most impressed with the “bold colours and striking, almost-brutalist imagery” seen in winner Stephen Dow’s designs, which he also offers as blank greeting cards.

Above: Alphablots’ Sarah Lewis
Above: Alphablots’ Sarah Lewis

The judges commented on the “simple but impactful design” seen in Elsa Rose Frere’s Sending Hugs card which won her the Emotive Design category, noting the way it “successfully elicited such powerful emotion”. Runners-up were Joy Nevada and Ricicle Cards.

And Raspberry Blossom’s Rebecca Green collected the new Innovation In Design award for its Keepsakes collection as the judges commented on the “appealing and novel” 3D element of each design. Alphablots and HappySelf Journal took the runners up slots.

Above: Cath Kidson (left), Tori Murphy (centre) and host Priscilla Polara
Above: Cath Kidson (left), Tori Murphy (centre) and host Priscilla Polara

Meanwhile the RetailFest programme drew good audiences, with Monday’s highlight being an exclusive discussion between Cath Kidson, who founded her namesake brand in 1993 then left in 2015 and now runs surface print design studio Joy Of Print, and Tori Murphy, founder of the eponymous textile and lifestyle brand.

Entitled A Life In Design – Creative Collaboration, the pair discussed how partnering helps innovation and looking for the next opportunity, and helps reach new audiences, and they spoke of how keeping the personal touch is really important in retail today.

“It’s how you can make the whole experience a joy,” Toni said, with Cath adding: “So much stuff is now automated, but that personal feeling and communication is so important. Really great, well thought-through customer service is so important.”

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