The first few weeks of any given year are a manic whirl for the retail trade, as buyers take stock after Christmas and come out in force the January and February shows in search of hot new merchandise to help seal their fortunes for the year ahead.
Alongside the major British exhibitions including Top Drawer and Spring Fair, Gifts & Greetings Review also attended the primary European exhibitions organised by Messe Frankfurt, including Paperworld and Ambiente.
First up on the mainland came Paperworld at the end of January, which runs alongside the complementary sister events Christmasworld, Creativeworld and, new for 2017, fresh lower and plant show, Floradecora.
Product categories here ran a broad and useful gamut from Christmas ornaments and seasonal decoration, fresh flowers and plants, hobby, craft and art supplies, through to contemporary giftware, stationery, gift wrappings and greeting cards.
By all accounts the exhibition was hugely successful, as 2,938 exhibitors from 63 countries were visited by more than 85,400 trade buyers from 154 nations. “Our Frankfurt consumer goods fairs Christmasworld, Floradecora, Paperworld and Creativeworld are the international hub for the trade all over the world”, commented Detlef Braun, Member of the Executive Board of Messe Frankfurt.
“The top purchasing decision-makers for all sales channels are represented – more visitors made their way to Frankfurt than a year ago, especially from Germany. At the same time, the high international spread of 60% provided tremendous export opportunities for the manufacturers”, he adds, having had numerous discussions with associations and exhibitors. They encounter highly complementary product ranges here – unlike at any other exhibition”.
There were some great trend showcases located throughout the complex of exhibitions, from the colourful Curious Funfair and traditionally luxurious Solid Grade of Paperworld, through to the Delightful Moments highlighted at Christmasworld, where festive joy merged with nature and modernity was blended with tradition.
All the tread features were curated by the bora.herke.palmisano trend bureau, while Holland’s Rudi Tuinman and Pascal Koelman of 2 Dezign created a merchandising extravaganza for the seventh year running.
Using the theme of ‘Surprise, Surprise’, they inspired visitors with colours ranging from candy to loud shades and an exuberant, astonishing spectrum of decorations, including a giant birthday cake and pink-blue elephants.
As always with the 2 Dezign showcsae, fresh flowers and plants were the star attraction. “The focus is not so much on individual products as creating an atmosphere and making something different to surprise customers.
It was clear as well, from all angles, that retro and vintage looks will remain a key trend throughout 2017, whether these are expressed with a touch of cheeky humour or infused with luxurious glamour. Funny figures from the world of comics and fairytale were also apparent across the festive presentations, while products made from natural materials and home fragrances are essential in the seasons to ahead.
Paperworld has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years and is an impressive international showcase of greeting cards, stationery, gift wrap and related product. More than 1,500 of the world’s leading manufacturers and interesting start-up companies make this the most international trade fair in its sector.
A smattering of first-class British publishers were exhibiting, including Portico Designs, Go Stationery, MGML and Carte Blanche Group, which appeared with its Dutch distributor TMS.
We also enjoyed seeing the strong contingent of luxurious Italian paper companies, which put on gorgeous displays of gift wrap in particular, while Tel Aviv based design house, The House of Turnowsky, launched stunning new greeting cards, stationery, calendars and gift wrap collections.
Of the three bora.herke.palmisano stationery trends our favourite, by far, was Solid Grade, with its focus on quality natural materials and craftsmanship, high functionality and classic aesthetic.
Not only did we prefer Solid Grade for its classic, high-quality visual aesthetic, but we think it also has great potential for male gifting, still a notoriously tricky area for many buyers. The trend incorporates themes drawn from the world of nature: Birds, frogs, insects, reptiles and other creatures merge with botanical plant illustrations, old fashioned maps and Phileas Fogg-inspired motifs, such as hot air balloons, classic cars and vintage aeroplanes.
High quality, traditional polished wood and brass desk accessories, leather-bound journals that are built to last and discreet notebooks are all part of Solid Grade, along with luxurious textured gift wrap in deep, calm and muted colours.