New York City had a new star this week with the arrival of Gerald the paper dog, unleashed by James Cropper, the British producer of the world's finest custom papers since 1845.
The Gerald & James exhibition opened on Thursday 16 May 2013 with an exclusive preview and book launch in Tribeca, Manhattan as part of NYCxDesign. The show celebrates the growing presence of James Cropper in the US luxury packaging market and the culmination of a two year design collaboration with British design house Lazerian, which has involved a global community of dozens of artists, designers and illustrators.
“Gerald is an iconic 3D paper sculpture created from our materials and customised by 120 of the world’s leading image-makers”, explains Mark Cropper, the sixth generation chairman of James Cropper. “We’ve loved the project since its conception as there are so many parallels with our own values and work in the luxury space – like Gerald we constantly strive to explore the creative potential of paper. Anything is possible, whether it be colour, texture, feel or technical and environmental parameters.”
From its base in the English Lake District, which dates back to the twelfth century, James Cropper produces unique and eye-catching packaging papers that clothe many of the world’s best-known brands, from fashion houses and wine and spirits producers to department stores and smartphone giants.
“Our luxury business has become increasingly diverse and global in recent years, in response to which we have set up local teams in North America, Europe and Asia”, explains Phil Wild, CEO of James Cropper. “But it is the USA that is truly embracing our mantra that the best packaging materials can directly enhance a brand’s image and sales. For that reason we decided to bring Gerald to New York.”
“The US appetite for James Cropper is also underpinned by our approach to the environment”, adds Wild. “We have invested more in environmental infrastructure in recent years than any other area and can now produce papers that combine the very highest quality and any certifications our customers need, from food contact compliance to 100% post-consumer waste content.”
Gerald is likewise a seamless blend of art and technology. Designed by Lazerian’s Liam Hopkins and 3D designers Richard Sweeney, it was thereafter – by invitation only – customised by 105 of the world’s leading image makers, from graffiti and street artists to commercial designers and editorial illustrators. It is increasingly recognised as a rising star in contemporary design having secured the attention of the international art and design media.
The success of Gerald is also being celebrated with the launch of a limited edition fine-art book, published by James Cropper. Naturally using its own materials, it is the company’s first foray into publishing, though its pedigree is second to none. “The last author that the proprietor of our paper-mil published was William Wordsworth”, explains Mark Cropper. “His 1835 Guide to the Lakes – his personal tribute to the region he made so famous – was produced here by the paper business my family purchased in 1845.”
Bringing Gerald to New York has involved countless people at James Cropper and Lazerian. Julie Tomlinson, Marketing Executive of James Cropper, who oversaw preparations for the impressive presence at NYCxDesign, said:
“From shipping 120 fragile paper dogs from the UK to New York, to ensuring our custom die-cut invitations arrived in the US in good time, the Gerald and James exhibition has been a challenging and exhilarating project. Producing a beautifully printed and bound, hardback book is a source of particular pride and a great way to conclude the project using our considerable experience in printing to almost any brief. By being here in New York and meeting so many current and potential collaborators face-to-face, we can already feel an incredible sense of momentum.”