CLASSIC Papers: A Surrealist-Inspired Refresh

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It’s the signature artwork that sets the tone for the most massive brand revision Neenah has ever undertaken for its CLASSIC Brands, since its 1962 introduction to the design community.

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Washington DC-based Design Army — the creative team that collaborated with Neenah on the relaunch — explored the idea of Surrealism for the visual representation of this designer-favorite collection of fine printing papers. Pum Lefebure, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer said, “The concept of classic is the foundation of every imagination, or every next creation. I think when you’re reinventing a classic, you have to think differently to create something timeless. You have to look to the fundamentals of art and design. We looked at different eras of art to draw inspiration, and to really create something unique for the CLASSIC Papers campaign. The Surrealist movement offers an amazing imagination through surprise and completely unexpected juxtapositions. Surrealist work always makes you look twice.”

The original photographs, art directed by Lefebure, use artfully inspired ways to present the eight new colors introduced into the line.

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Each of the photos, shown here on the three new swatchbook covers, and in the signature images in a new promotion you’ll see in a minute, uses only the new colors from the line — from set design, to makeup, to clothing. “We wanted to make the new colors into something memorable. The new colors are central to the personality of the line,” said Lefebure.

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All in all, this market-leading portfolio of premium uncoated papers, has been artistically reimagined and reorganized into the new CLASSIC Papers, complete with new eight new colors: Imperial Red, Cobalt, Military, Aubergine, Chambray, Cool Gray, Cadet Gray, and Bare White. (The portfolio now includes 36 colors across 9 brands within the family.)

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Imperial Red is the line’s new power color. According to Lefebure, this color was inspired by memories of the colors she saw walking through the Forbidden City in Beijing.

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Aubergine is a complex, chic neutral that coordinates well with, and enhances, whites or any colors it’s combined with. The new Chambray, like denim, is a universal, versatile color never goes out of style.

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“The CLASSIC Brands are known for texture,” said Lefebure, “We paid close attention to the market research Neenah conducted with designers to see what kinds of textures people thought were missing from the portfolio.”

Two really interesting branded textures that were added to the line are CLASSIC Techweave and CLASSIC Woodgrain.

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The geometric shapes in the CLASSIC Techweave (shown above in new Cobalt) look and feel…well, very techy. With people looking at smooth screens all day, a highly tactile sensation makes the experience of a printed piece all that more inviting. “Technology is huge market today and this new texture is perfect for technology-focused printing,” said Lefebure.

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CLASSIC Woodgrain (shown above in new Military) is of course perfect for incorporating an environmental aspect to any project, but Lefebure says she’d love to see it inspire designers to challenge that idea and use it for something completely unexpected.

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The cover of the just-released 64-page Think CLASSIC Papers promotion, pays homage to surrealist artist René Magritte. This oversized book is filled with page after page print demonstrations, specialty techniques, and inspiring ideas for designers.


You can also a get a glimpse behind-the-scenes of this extraordinary undertaking— from developing the new colors to the photo shoots — in this Making a CLASSIC video.

“The goal was to create a sense of wonder and awe. We hope these new tools serve as an inspiration for creating interesting designs. With CLASSIC Papers the possibilities are endless,” said Lefebure.


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