Interview: Sarah Richardson’s Latest Launch

When you have the kind of devoted fan following that Sarah Richardson attracts, every move you make piques interest. So when Sarah recently unveiled her new stationery and greeting card line for Hallmark, we couldn’t wait to see what was up her sleeve. Her breezy graphics could end up adorning your own home office, or at the least, make your next baby shower gift a little more pretty. The line includes greeting cards; tissue; bags and sheet wrap from $1.99 to $29.95, all available exclusively at Hallmark Gold Crown stores across Canada. The collection also includes journals, boxed notecard sets and two stationery box sets that feature designs from Sarah’s Kravet fabric collection.

Here’s what Sarah has to say about the importance of the written word, her go-to baby shower present, and her favourite way to embellish a gift.

House & Home: How involved were you in the design of this line? Did you write the copy inside the cards?

Sarah Richardson: I actually designed a lot of these files myself; I got a crash course in Photoshop from someone here at the office. It was a collaborative process and hands on for me. I love the written word. Tommy (Smythe, you can see a gallery of his houses here) saw the cursive cards in House & Home design editor Morgan Michener’s office that she got from school because they were getting rid of them. He posted the photo on Instagram and it elicited a dramatic response from people who say how can you stop teaching cursive?! Someone said to me: “paper goods are irrelevant.” Are you kidding me? Don’t you love seeing a coloured envelope come through your door? There’s nothing more exciting in a sea of bills. It’s the thing that stands out and makes you feel excited and good and makes you feel that somebody cares. It’s nice to send an email, but if you take the time to put pen to paper, it’s a tangible way to communicate that the recipient can touch and keep. I think it means so much more. That was the foundation behind this collection.

H&H: How does this line relate to your work in interior design?

SR: I wanted to offer the sensibility of my prints and patterns and fun colour combos starting at a price point of $1.99. I studied printmaking and I loved it. I originally wanted to be a graphic designer. When I was in grade 5, I used all my allowance and bought myself a drafting table on Queen Street and all the markers and pencil crayons. I loved it so much I always have been a bit of a closet graphic designer, and I would be one if I wasn’t working in decor.

I wanted the collection to reflect that. I’ve done a fabric collection for Kravet but the price points may be beyond the reach for some fans and people who watch my shows. So how do you make it accessible? I created boxed sets that combine the patterns in this collection, such as paisley, and applied them to the paper. I tried to create something that is flexible. You don’t want 20 cards that are exactly the same. 

The blue and green paisley and diamond pattern are taken exactly from my fabric line, with no labeling on the outside so you can use it on your desk to keep organized. It’s a nice way to add print and pattern and fun to a home office. When I got through some of the designs for the paper line, I thought: I want this as bedding! Wouldn’t these make amazing drapes? We will see if it can go the other direction. The success of a product, no matter what it is, rests in the design. Design and colour first.

My sensibility in terms of interiors tends to be more neutral, but that could be dull for gift wrap. I think people think of me more for playing with colour and not being afraid to mix patterns together (see examples in this gallery of Sarah Richardson’s rooms). The number one thing is the pale greens and blues: that is the signature that people expect from me.

H&H: Where do you get your inspiration for the art?

SR: I take photos everywhere I go, and sort them in an inspiration file. Tommy and I went to Sweden on a press tour for Ikea, and this card (below) was taken from a photo in an arcade in Stockholm. It depicts the globe pattern reflected from a light fixture on the ceiling.

I write all the copy. I spent a lot of time looking up fonts…days! I love marbling. When I think about my first experience with paper I think about the Florentine marbled paper my dad used to give me as sets, so I needed to include a marbled paper in this collection.

H&H: How do you like to like to embellish a gift?

SR: I love grosgrain and rickrack. These papers are matte; you can almost see them as wallpaper. In the past I have used maps as wallpaper. You could decoupage or cover boxes or a small piece of furniture with this gift wrap, or use it for  scrapbooking and crafts. I got to experience glitter and flitter, but I like understated elegance. This collection is elegant in its simplicity. It’s not shiny or metal or mixed media. We applied embossing and debossing to give the cards texture; I like using traditional printing processes.

H&H: Do you have any home office decor tips?

SR: I love the simplicity of a light, bright, white, neutral office, surrounding yourself with elements that allow you to feel organized and energize your office so you enjoy being in it (my office supplies line is in the works for late 2015). I need a view. Here at my office I have four different spots where I can sit. If you are trying to be productive, ask yourself “how do I make this a place to succeed?” Don’t just say it’s a home office. Of course it matters. I like a pendant or chandelier. Install a dimmer; I don’t like to think I am being interrogated if I am working late at night. Combine the comforts of home with the efficiency of a corporate cubicle. Layer in the personality in vintage elements, lighting, and desktop accessories. What is your favourite teacup? What makes you feel you own the space? Embrace that flexibility of working where and how you want, and when you want to. Set yourself with a strategy to embrace the place and conquer the world. After all, if you don’t use your home office, you won’t be very successful.

H&H: What’s your go-to wedding, baby shower and birthday gift?

SR: As a wedding gift, everybody should own the Kosta Boda snowball votive. I have been known to give them in sets. I grew up with it, it’s an icon of design and beautiful whether on a formal or a casual table, or a kitchen windowsill. It can be used everywhere and forever. I don’t love to buy off a registry and prefer a personal gift, or something vintage.

Baby gift: A small piece of art. There is a lot to spend on when they have a baby, and then they end up with blank walls. Teach kids to appreciate art. I was down at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design and I saw these little paintings, it was $80 for a one-of-kind canvas. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s original.

Birthday: Champagne. Really I like to give things that people wouldn’t buy for themselves. It feels decadent. I know I always appreciate it!

Love Sarah’s style? See 42 rooms by Sarah Richardson Design.

Photo sources:

1-9. Hallmark Canada
10. Wendy Jacob

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