Trade fairs form a regular part of our routine, with annual pilgramages to all sorts of exotic places from Olympia here in London to the NEC in Birmingham and the Messe in Frankfurt. In recent years though the dominant show for stationery buyers (like us) has been the London Stationery Show. Here in London, handily, as the name would suggest. It has certainly put the other UK shows in the shade, and we have been invited to be judges on the show's stationery awards panel for three of the past five years. Last year we sent Mishka there for a day to soak up the stationery-love (read her write up here) and this year we thought we would go nuclear and send the team. The irony here is that I didn't go - too much happening back at Stationery HQ - but Jo went with Isaac on the Tuesday and then Mishka went with Pawel and Faisal on World Stationery Day. Read on to see what they have to say about the show.
Our highlights of the show were:
- Kaweco - their stand included a machine to let you customise and make your own fountain pen. This one had everyone talking!
- Lamy - long-time favourites of ours but always good to meet them and of course the new dark lilac Safari was the highlight of their stand.
- Castelli - they went with a sleek, minimal stand to showcase their new black-and-gold range.
- Palomino and Midori - some of the more exotic stationery and which we are always happy to see.
- Lots of new suppliers, some of which we are not at liberty to divulge...trade secrets. Mum's the word!
The Stationery Show is always an good visit and this year was no exception with a couple of tempting new suppliers. Increasingly we find nothing to interest us at Spring/Autumn Fair, the two big UK trade shows in Birmingham and this year, for the first time, I didn't even go. Most of our key suppliers are at the London Stationery Show so we get the chance to say hello and have a look at anything new. Kaweco had a fantastic stand with the option to make your own Ice Sport pen, which we all did. Very interesting to see how the pen is constructed. Hopefully we will be able to take on a few new items from the show but just for now they will have to remain under wraps...
This was my second visit to stationery show, so I knew what to expect.
Lovely stationery everywhere you looked and meeting people that we deal with every day - suppliers, distributors, reps...
This time I kept finding Faisal's signature on paper pads everywhere :) It was great to go and enjoy the day out with the rest of the team (expect their thorough reviews on our Stationery Wednesday blog).
For me, my first experience of the show was through my pen crazy colleague Mishka who attended last year. Leaving my phone with inundated with messages and photos of the weird and wonderful. That excitement trickled down and stuck with me so I was delighted this year I was given the chance to visit. And who better to go with than with the stationery guru herself (and Pawel!).
Walking through the iconic doors at the Business Design Centre and being handed my neck strap was more thrilling than it should have been. Holding our badges up proudly, we wandered down the rabbit hole and popped out into a swarm of cheery pink booths. It was overwhelming at first the sheer number of places to visit. Buzzing with excitement, the only thing you can do is just pick an aisle and see where it takes you.
Now to be honest, there are quite a few stands aimed at the supermarket and bargain bin consumers or the pretty-on-the-outside-nothing-of-substance-inside but you’ll find a handful of diamonds in the rough. When you do, it’s brilliant. There’s nothing quite like using fantastic paper from the far east or feeling the smooth precision of a German pen and then getting to talk about it with similarly passionate people behind them.
Going to the show isn’t all about new suppliers and products or prices (for me anyway!), it’s about having a little fun peek behind the curtains and hopefully finding something inspiring to share with the world.
The Stationery Show was a great chance to see what’s been happening in the world of stationery recently, and from what I saw, that seems to be primarily colouring books. Aside from that though we were given the opportunity to forge our own Kaweco pens, although forge might be the wrong word there were two rather ingenious machines that simply required that you place each part in and pull the lever in order to seal them together. Having made my first red Kaweco with a clear barrel I also decided it would be the perfect pen to turn into a red eyedropper when I got back to the office, which turned out pretty brilliantly!
Also on another fun stationery note one of my favourite stands at the show contained seemingly thousands of collectible rubbers in the shapes of animals, food and other brightly coloured things. The whole place looked just like a sweet shop, and even I couldn’t resist taking a free hedgehog to keep on my desk, very adorable.
As one of the newer members to the team, this was my first chance to visit the show, and I’m glad I did! It was great to be able to see some brand new stationery, and I’ve definitely noticed a black and gold trend at this year’s show. Many of the products that caught my eye also caught the attention of Jo and Mishka, so hopefully we’ll have lots of tantalising new items to offer. The Kaweco stand was especially fun, as they brought along their pen assembly machines and anyone who wanted to could walk away with their own “handmade” pen.
However, I have to say that the aspect that stuck with me most was being able to finally meet all of the great people that make up our suppliers, and that I pester every day with my emails. It can be easy to forget that you’re dealing with other people in today’s online world, so having the opportunity to put a face to a name was invaluable, and it was fun to geek out a bit about stationery new and old!
And as a final personal note, as a budding artist it was quite the “kid in a candy store” experience to see so many different art supplies – I don’t think I’ve seen so many Copic, Faber-Castell, Pentel, and Caran d’Ache pens and pencils in one place!
It was nice that we were able to send so many of them team this year. We talked about it after #LSS15 and agreed that when #LSS16 came around we would send anyone in the team who wanted to take it all in. They certainly seemed happy to see it all, especially since it removes any lingering doubt about how un-exotic trade fairs really are, and this was one of the nice ones! Wait till we pack them off to the NEC for the day... Of course it is a bit odd that yours truly didn't make it, again. Too much on, same old story. I am sorry I missed the Kaweco machine in particular but such is life. I'm not sure I need another fountain pen just yet.
So here's looking forward to #LSS17, World Stationery Day 2017 and more stationery enjoyment in the spring sunshine in North London.