The web may be the first port of call, but print is a luxury that high-end brands need to consider as part of their communication strategy. The death of print has been grossly exaggerated. With the rise of digital, its demise has been bandied about for years. But we know that luxury consumers respond to touch, smell and texture, leaving the screen way behind in terms of its ability to connect, engage and encourage customers to linger and return. We thought we’d share you a few new spins on an old medium that we’ve found recently – and show how luxury print design can help brands stand out.

Business cards for luxury introductions

We worked on a luxury print design job for an art gallery a couple of years ago and costed producing business cards from very slim, etched marble, surely the most luxurious way to schmooze new clients. They didn’t come to light, but we realised how cleverly executed business cards can provide real stand-out to high-end brands.

Hungarian designer Réka Neszmélyi produced business cards for a photographer that constantly transform their appearance; the reflective foil component on the card constantly changes colour according to the light, so it never looks the same twice. On the same theme, the Supernatural juice and smoothie bar chain wanted a standout card; Lyon & Lyon Creative produced luxurious hand-made cards by individually dipping each in liquid gold.
The finish is absolutely spectacular.

Printing outside the box

The drinks market has moved on a lot since chianti bottles in straw baskets. Buddy Creative in Devon commissioned illustrator Kate Forrester to design a Christmas wine label that could be used to create a DIY wrapping paper print, laser-engraved into rubber and wrapped around the body of the bottle. A brilliant example of packaging with a built-in second use.

The Griffiths Brothers premium gin brand’s new label is printed on a clear material with a large, bold design – and a heat-responsive ink, which turns blue when the gin is cold enough to drink. At warmer temperatures, the blue fades, telling you to put it in the fridge.

On a grander scale, Tiger Beer has commissioned the world’s first ink created from air pollution. Using technology too complex to detail – 🙂 – the brand is harvesting carbon emissions and recycling into artwork in conjunction with leading international artists. The soot is processed to a purified, carbon-rich pigment that is then used to create the ink and paints. It’s a great example of brand using luxury print design and emerging technology to make a positive change in their communities.

Books for brilliant branding

We have produced many, many sumptuous coffee table books for luxury brands – from property developers and Greek antiquities galleries to the aviation industry – and this one really stands out to us. ‘This Book is a Planetarium’ contains various functioning paper gadgets, which goes way beyond normal print. Using sophisticated pop-up elements, it offers a means to both explain and demonstrate scientific concepts that is immersive and easier to read than words.

Just how to define a book is posed by the Water is Life charity, which is dedicated to providing safe drinking water throughout the world. Their Drinkable Book draws on cutting-edge purification technology in a book and combines education with practicality: water safety tips are written in various languages, and when you tear out a page, you can use it as a water filter. Slip it into the filtration tray (made from the packaging the book came in) and pour water through. The paper is impregnated with silver nanoparticles which kill bacteria as water passes through the paper. Sheer genius.

Premium packaging perfection

We’ve always been fond of clever paper handling techniques, and Japanese brand Triad is resurrecting origami with a superb range of luxury memo pads – called Omoshiro Blocks – that reveal a minutely detailed architectural model as each page is pulled away and used. The laser-cutting technology is precise enough to render tiny leaves and details on the facade of the building.

A different take on paper comes from Fabulous Cat Papers in Athens, who specialise in hand-embroidered notebooks with Japanese paper covers decorated with anatomical, floral and geometric designs. The detail, finish and sheer difference of the stationery mix the everyday with high art, an ideal position for luxury brands to occupy.

One final example of engaging packaging comes from a preserved seafood company. Not the most elevated of brands, but with a clever spin on the ordinary. NORD STREAM’s packaging features a silhouette of one of five products, using eye-catching moiré which causes the image to look like its moving when opened. It cleverly points to the freshness of the products inside, with a sardine fin that wiggles or a crustacean with moving claws and legs. Total stand-out on the supermarket shelf.

And the most innovative concept we’ve found? Toyota has pushed sensory advertising to the limit with its new Camry range print ad that takes viewers on a multi-sensory journey. The magazine insert features two door handles equipped with built-in sensors; when you pull then, the car’s interior is revealed, with a ‘new car’ smell and a real-time heart monitor on the car’s dashboard that measures your heart rate. Talk about an ad that engages the reader.

No, we’re happy to say that print certainly is not dead. The recent innovations in the use of paper – from print to folding to cutting – shows that it still has a long life left, and its tactility and ability to engage makes it highly relevant to luxury brands.

If you are looking for luxury design for print we would love to help. Please complete the enquiry form at the bottom of this page or head over to our print design services page to find out more.