The future of Print & Sign: an interview with Annemarie Kleve

From book to magazine, from advertising column to packaging material; the world of Print & Sign revolves around carriers and print techniques. From special paper, cardboard and textile to lifelike material prints, embosses, special effects and 3D experiences on a flat surface. Annemarie Kleve is ambassador of Print & Sign during MaterialDistrict Rotterdam. She is an expert on printed matter and paper. To make printed matter special, you need to look beyond paper by stimulating the senses. You can change the experience of the story by looking, listening, tasting, feeling or smelling. What’s Kleve’s story?

1. What does print/sign look like in 100 years if it were up to you?
Let’s first define these terms. ‘Print’ is everything that has to do with multiplication. ‘Sign’ is an expression on walls, façades, etcetera.

Paintings can already be reproduced almost identically, so in the future, real and fake will be indistinguishable. 100 years is perhaps a little far in the future, but I believe inks will disappear and digital techniques will increase. The influence of laser and biobased toner will increase as well. However, this happens combined with the right choice of paper. 100 years ago, there was already paper, and in 100 years, it will still be there. Paper is a medium that has something that digital media don’t and never will have.

2. What do you think is the best invention ever and why?
Generally speaking, the plane. It’s such an enormous and heavy vehicle, filled with technology and materials that can fly and bring the world together. People will still fly in the future.

Looking at the graphic sector, then paper is the best invention ever. As I just mentioned, I don’t expect paper to disappear soon. It is a basic material for communication, and it has something digital media can’t replicate. Paper is a message that you can pass along. Take for example a book; this medium contains knowledge you can pass along in, for instance, a library. Paper is a sensory addition to digital media.

3. What do you think are the most important material innovations within your sector and why?
When you look at techniques, then an important innovation is digital print as addition or even replacement of traditional printing presses. Digital print opens a world of possibilities. Special types of paper that couldn’t be printed before, can be printed now, or become affordable.

For materials, alternatives to replace wood cellulose to reduce its use in paper is the most noticeable theme. Most paper is made from trees, which generally grow very slow. Even though it is not possible to replace all wood cellulose in paper as not to compromise its strength, it can be mixed with other organic materials that are now regarded as waste. For instance, after harvest, the asparagus plant is left to wither, but the plant can also excellently be used by the paper industry. Replacing part of the wood cellulose is better for the environment and has surprising effects on the look of the paper.

4. With which other sector is your sector the most closely related, and is the most similarity or cross-pollination in material innovation?
The fashion sector is comparable, with fabrics that are in or out of style. The same is true for paper. Many standard types of paper disappear and are replaced by special limited editions.

Large brands sometimes even have their own type of paper developed, with their own look and colour. Coca-Cola and BMW are examples of this. This paper cannot easily be copied. Additionally, the paper industry looks at the world of fashion for colours that are ‘in’ and reproduce these in their collections.

5. Which theme is currently the most important in your sector?
Making choices, discerning oneself, innovation, and that with regard to the environment. Making choices is in this one of the most important themes. As a graphic design company, you have to make a choice on which sector you focus. Because there are so many printing techniques available, you also have to choose a specialism. Which printing press or printer are you using. What do you want to achieve?

The client also has to make choices, but because of the many options, often cannot see the forest for the trees. A graphic company has to be able to provide advice.

6. MaterialDistrict’s goal is to connect various parties. Which other party or person should the visitor get to know according to you, and why?
Allow yourself to be inspired by other sectors. By looking at materials with different eyes, new applications can be conceived. By talking to manufacturers or designers, you can open your mind. A nice example is a type of paper that looks and feels like concrete, inspired by an architect. Challenging and connecting people in various branches can lead to the most surprising results.

About the ambassador
Annemarie Kleve is an expert on printed matter and paper. She has a vast interest in other countries and cultures, and is well-travelled. According to Kleve, communication demands to have the guts to be distinctive, with your own book, magazine or striking printed material. To make printed matter special, you need to look beyond paper by stimulating the senses. You can change the experience of the story by looking, listening, tasting, feeling or smelling.

Read more about the ambassador here.

MaterialDistrict Rotterdam
MaterialDistrict Rotterdam is the leading event for R&D and design professionals within six sectors: ArchitectureInteriors, Urban & LandscapesProductsTextiles & Fabrics and Print & Sign. The trade fair takes place from 12 to 14 March 2019 in Rotterdam Ahoy, the Netherlands. Want to visit? Click here for your free ticket!