Hot off the press

To find out what’s tickling designer’s fancy, Design Week asked four consultancies where print trends were heading and how they used them in recent work.

Darren Foley

Realisation director at pearlfisher

We have noticed quite a big move towards ‘greener’ materials. But beyond saying that this or that material is ‘recyclable’ (most materials are!) the new generation of materials is truly environmentally friendly. In printing, vegetable-based inks have been developed, and new paper stocks such as Monadnock’s Astrolite PCR100 ( are on the market. It has a 100 per cent post-consumer waste recycled content and has Forestry Services Commission accreditation, yet is still very white – without being treated with chlorine – and prints extremely well. VIP Paper’s Shoebox paper and board, which is again made from 100 per cent PCR, uses organic dyes to create a colour range that looks natural and authentic.

At the other end of the spectrum there has been a lot of development in iridescent and pearlescent inks and coatings, which were originally pioneered by the car paint industry. These have now been successfully transferred across to the paper and ink industries, giving designers the opportunity to create some really interesting effects across a broad range of processes, including offset, flexo, silkscreen and gravure. Merck Chemicals ( is one of the companies behind these developments, with a range of diverse pigments available for printing processes (for example/ Iriodin, Xirallic and Colorstream).

Tactility is another emerging area and you can see this in developments in inks and materials. In ink terms, new technology has brought a sensory dimension to branding through printing – this was traditionally the domain of an expensive or impractical embossing process. Sun Chemical’s Liquid Inks has some early examples of tactile inks (that sit proud of the surface of the substrate) that will ultimately be able to be used in wide web gravure and flexo printing. Tactile varnishes have long been available in the narrow web flexo/letterpress label printing by using the press’s silkscreen station. Originally devised to help the visually impaired, these effects are now being specified as part of more mainstream designs, to add sensory/tactile values.

We’ve started to see some enhancements to the quality and lustre of metallic inks, the mainstay of graphic effects. Aroma-chromic, thermo-chromic and holographic effects are also available but, as they’re still often seen as too gimmicky, tend to be used at the more promotional end of the market.

Ben Parker

Partner at Made Thought

There aren’t new developments in print, it’s more a case of doing and combining things in a new way. Creating a brochure for The Piano Factory, a property development in London’s Clerkenwell, we had to capture the spirit of the area and appeal to potential customers. Given the limited budget, we were constrained to four-colour printing, but overprinting with black allowed to us to be more playful and add ‘abstract’ images under the black to add graphic interest and depth. The text pages are printed on a continuous concertina fold over 60 pages. This is then printed in four colours only, using the foil set of fully oxidised process inks, and placing three process colours down first with an overprint black. A wrap dust jacket is slipped around the text pages and printed in black with an interlocking varnish in male and female.

For Established & Sons, the new British-based furniture company launched at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, we created two invites, one for the press and one for a launch party. Both invites are specified on thick Dutch grey board: one litho-printed in one colour and the other foil blocked in copper. Two different foil blocks were used to allow the solid background to be printed in one hit, and then a second foil to allow the more delicate areas to be defined. Interest comes from the contrast between a perceived cheap, rough board and seductive shiny foil.

Bryan Edmondson

Director at Sea

Staverton’s office furniture is beautifully designed and crafted, and the brochure we created had to reflect this. The finish of the text pages is high gloss – we used a shiny stock and then UV varnished it. This matches the finish of the furniture surface – ultra smooth, ultra clean. The cover is acrylic with the Staverton logo welded in. The whole brochure is tactile, mirror-smooth and totally desirable.

Many processes went into producing the White Book, which showcases nine ranges from paper company GF Smith. These include foil blocking on the cover, five-colour print and half-tone images on coloured stock. However, for that extra edge we decided to use an old technique called end-blocking. We could only find one printing company in the country that could meet our needs. The silver end-blocking is very distinctive and is a beautiful finishing touch.

Dave Simpson

Creative director at Love

We were asked to create a book to accompany a multidisciplinary exhibition – Where Are You? – at the Lichtaffen Gallery in south London. We wanted to create an almost throwaway feel to the book, as if each leaf was scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet or piece of card found lying around. Hence the use of papers and boards more often used as packing materials, carton boards, newsprint and so on.

Using kit that could cope with consistent ink weights across the various calibres of substrate, full-colour images were printed on to the reverse of boards and coloured, grey and uncoated surfaces, giving them an accidental quality. The finished item was then bound in the least obtrusive way, so that each ‘postcard’ retained its own individual characteristics. 1 To accompany an exhibition at the Lichtaffen Gallery, Love used paper and board packing materials to produce a book that has a throwaway feel

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