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Editorial blog

Henri Davis looks at stationery trends that will influence the craft market

08 Jun 2019

Independent retail advisor Henri Davis takes a look at what’s hot in the stationery market.

The links between stationery and craft are always strong because so many crafting activities use mediums and materials that are core to the stationery sector too, this year is no exception with calligraphy, journaling and colouring all being very popular.

The London Stationery Show is an effective launch pad for new products and this year there were loads, here are some of the great products and ideas I saw.

Scarlet Opus, the trend forecasting agency, created a really inspirational Trend Hub in the centre of the main show area and this was a great way to get an understanding of the trends that will be influencing how we will be feeling and what we will be buying in 2020.

This may seem a way away but we know how quickly time will pass so we need to be aware of these influences as they start to filter through.

They identified four trends Game Changer, The Traveller, Fellowship and Satori each with dominant colour palettes, moods and themes. Their displays only use products being offered at the show, so that in itself highlights just how much on trend product is available at the show.

Not only that but visitors to the show can sign up for a Trend Tour which allows smaller groups to get a much more detailed insight into the trends and to be able to ask questions that relate to their business; a great return for a small investment of time!!

The show was a riot of colour reflecting the trends mentioned above including the deep blues and reds linking to the Japanese Satori trend which ‘encourages consumers to find a natural rhythm and balance in their lifestyles in order to cope with the complexities of modern life and the distractions of the on line world’. Castelli’s Shibori range was identified as fitting well with this as were the calming pastel shades available in all product formats from pens and journals through to craft kits.

Journaling is going from strength to strength and there were a lot of new products available to help you get creative in recording your thoughts, ideas, plans and goals. Be they notebooks with captioned pages to guide you through like the fabulous products from Kikki K, now available for all retailers to stock, gorgeous looking notebooks that you can personalise as you choose like the Castelli Wabi Sabi design, which is a particular favourite of mine with its strong colours and eye-catching use of gold blocking or the multi-award winning range from LEUCHTTURM1917 which celebrates the geometry of design and 100 years of Bauhaus with the “Everything starts from a dot” centenary edition described as ‘primal, primary and pure writing pleasure’ it is a real style statement.

Journaling involves words and visuals, be they icons or art pieces, and there is a fantastic selection of pen, pencil and paint products to use and the artwork being produced in journals is amazing.

One product that really impressed me was the Chameleon fine liners which blend colours using its dual ink system, where there is ink in the cap and the pen. The team demonstrated how you can instantly blend colours by switching the cap on to the top of another pen and leaving it for a few seconds so the vibrant colours blend. So with a range of 48 colours the variety of blended colour options that can be created is staggering.

Another standout product was the new EMOTT fine liners from uniball which are a great looking product, presented in eye-catching packaging described as ‘grown up fine line colour pens that combine style and substance’ and because of the range of 40 colours available there are colours for every mood. But you don’t have to buy all 40 as there are sets of fives and tens reflecting specific colour palettes too.

Journaling has led to an increased interest in modern lettering and calligraphy and Manuscript Pen Company has a really broad range which has a pen for most needs including their Callicreative Switch Tips Range - a complete set offering a brush tip, a fine liner and two italic nibs that can be used in one single pen, making it the perfect solution for creatives of all disciplines and then there are the recently added oblique Calligraphy Set and a more comprehensive Modern Calligraphy Set. These sets are ideal for experts and beginners alike and a new pack of Duotip Brush Markers in ten great modern calligraphy colours completes the set!

As I write this article it is Mental Health Awareness Week which is helping to increase our awareness of mental health issues, encouraging people talk about it and ways we can manage stress and anxiety including how important it is to keep a good work/life balance. Learning new skills and creative ways to spend our time when we are not at work can be a really effective emotional outlet and a few years ago this led to a huge increase in colouring for adults which continues to be popular today.

Frighteningly we are beginning to realise that some children need a digital detox too, as many of them resort to phones and ipads for entertainment a lot of the time. Manuscript Pen Company, known for their calligraphy ranges were exhibiting their new children’s colouring range Lionheart. Reassuringly, the research they did when developing this range suggested that younger children do like using pencils if given the opportunity. So they have developed an early learners writing and colouring range of ten fun and exciting characters who aid a child’s creative development aimed at encouraging children to write and draw with exciting and stimulating products. The range is supported by a selection of writing instruments and a range of activity books to assist children’s development from their early years up to nine years old.

Whilst the interest in colouring continues to grow other areas of creative interest are emerging too. Beginners are using demonstrations on You Tube to learn new skills, and kits of components with instructions are a great way to get started too. I found some great kits at the show and enjoyed having a go with the West Design’s Marabu Screen Printing Kit, which made creating a design on a t-shirt so easy and, with a bit more time, I would have loved to have tried the Simply Make Weather Mobile kit too, which produces a great finished product.

Derwent’s Inktense range of pencils and blocks is proving very popular and they have added a second Inktense Paint Pan Set with 12 new colours. When the fi rst set launched last year they found it appealed to a whole new demographic of artists because of the products painterly qualities, its versatility and the portability of the set, so the addition of 12 colours will give a really rich set of additional tones that can be achieved by blending and mixing them.

For those who want to treat themselves to something really special Derwent’s newly restyled metallic pencils are now highly metallic and blend beautifully to create vivid and striking metallic effects, particularly on dark paper. The new-improved and extended range of 20 metallic colours are a non-soluble formula which makes the colour shimmer and shine on the paper and the new accessories which are really eyecatching will be available shortly. If you like modelling products Staedtler’s latest edition to the Fimo family Fimo leathereffect opens up a whole new world of crafting opportunities.

It mimics the look and texture of real leather but, crucially, remains flexible and elastic after hardening so it can be cut, sewn, braided, pierced and embossed. It is available in 12 colours which can be bought as single blocks or a pack of 12 smaller blocks for those who want to enjoy its design scope and versatility; I thought it was amazing!

There are so many great new products being launched that whatever the retail sales trends from the British Retail Consortium suggest, manufacturers of craft and stationery lines still have the confidence to spend time and money developing innovative products. This fills me with excitement as it gives us great new products to offer our customers. So let us make sure that we stock it and take this opportunity to drive our sales this year!!


Henri Davis Independent Retail Advisor

As an independent retail advisor to businesses in the cards, gifts, stationery and heritage industries, I combine 35 years of retail experience with my knowledge of trends and consumer motivation to analyse markets and identify new opportunities.

I have worked at Habitat, Next, WH Smith and the National Trust and I now work with many small and medium-sized businesses, including multi-site retailers, visitor attractions and national and international manufacturers and suppliers.

I am the first retailer Deputy Chairman of the Giftware Association. For more information, visit

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