I’ve been thinking a lot about how futurists once predicted that we would become a paperless society. That email and the internet would spell the end of printed books and handwritten letters. It’s true, the global economic crisis has negatively impacted the market for stationery products and a preference for electronic communication has rapidly emerged. But, guess what? The fountain pen industry is running a stiff business. According to a recent report by Global Industry Analysts, the global stationery products market is set to reach US $155.4 billion by 2015 driven by innovative designs and high-profit premium segments such as luxury writing instruments.
Even though we’re more connected today than in any previous generation, there’s a growing trend and desire to blend the old and the new. Fueled by rapid innovation with the advent of mobile devices, tablets, digital music players and smart TVs, more and more, the offline is a reflection of the increasingly dominant online environment. Yet as our individual worlds become permeated by screens, we yearn for the tactile, material and more human connection to accompany our virtual experience. Sure, video games are hotter than ever, but so are board games and retro toys.
The rituals of stitching, folding, and leafing through the pages of a photo book or sending a handwritten card by post are everyday moments we savor at RPI. It’s true, digital versions of these items are remarkable, but there’s nothing quite like holding a hard copy that has an element of craft to it in your hands. And, while we absolutely believe in archiving all of your prized photos and digital diaries online, you can’t hang a .jpg file on your wall or wrap it up and give it to a loved one as a gift. So with the conveniences of high-tech and the value of high touch, integrating technology with the nostalgic elegance of paper can create a more authentic and much more meaningful form of expression.
The product designers at RPI are always developing new concepts that offer consumers unique, personalized artifacts for bridging the analog with the digital. We look at global trends and imagine “what if.” We love our easy-to-use, time-saving gadgets especially when they allow us to explore our creativity in a way that truly represents our personalities. And while we live in a world brimming with technology, we think it is important to delight in the ordinary wonder of the world around us too, whether it’s baking bread, drinking tea, or making a simple homemade gift. We enjoy the technology today as an exciting growing market with boundless possibilities, but we mustn’t let the human touch disappear into the cloud.