Christmas cards are big business — and not just in the sense that some 1.6 billion units are purchased each year. Rather, for many companies, specifically stationery companies, they are an opportunity to both thank and dazzle their customers in the fashion with which they are most familiar.

Maybe that is why it seems like every year the industry cards I receive get more ornate and thought-out than the previous one. The card I received from Mohawk speaks most to this phenomenon — selecting highlights from Strathmore’s rich history as it simultaneously utilizes its cutting-edge augmented reality app, Mohawk Live.SONY DSCTo describe this card, we have to look back, over a century back in fact, to the Strathmore Archives. Mohawk acquired Strathmore, founded in 1892, in 2005 — and last year discovered a cache of rare, historic and beautiful Strathmore paper promotions. While each piece in and of itself is a well-considered graphic design produced on some of the finest papers ever made, as a collection the Archives chronicle 100 years of American design and style.

With that kind of material, there is certainly a lot of great design to choose from! I love the little red-coated fellow bearing a top hat and gifts that Mohawk’s VP of Business Development and Creative Director (and fellow LOUIE Award judge) Chris Harrold selected for the 2014 card’s centerpiece.

To find him, Harrold reviewed the earliest Strathmorean holiday covers, from 1913-1925. The Strathmorean was Strathmore’s monthly employee newsletter designed to foster community among employees who proudly referred to themselves as just that. “Ultimately, the perfect image appeared – and (it) was from exactly 100 years ago,” Chris told me.

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The original paper he was printed on is a bit of a mystery. “We’ve reviewed an extensive collection of Strathmore Swatchbooks dated from the 1890s, and while there’s not a paper ID listed on the original, it appears to have been printed on Strathmore Adirondack Cover in a shade called Sycamore, from a swatchbook dated 1912,” Chris told me.

That paper is very similar to the Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Chino 111 cover (you can read more about these papers here), which is exactly what was used by the team at Rohner Letterpress in Chicago, Illinois, for the 2014 card.
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The card was then encased in a stunning Carnival Vellum, Red, 80 cover carrier, which both protects the card and provides background about the reproduction (as well as instructions for downloading the Mohawk Live app).

These were printed at the Mohawk Print Innovation Center in Albany, N.Y., on the HP Indigo 5600 using white ink. The carrier closes with a Mohawk seal, and all elements are enclosed in a Strathmore watermarked envelope (specifically, Writing Wove, Soft White, 24w #10 square flap). If you are creating envelopes for a project, you can shop Mohawk’s 1,000+ designs here.)SONY DSC

At the top of the carrier is the Strathmore icon, the thistle, while at the bottom is the distinctive Mohawk “M.” Download the Mohawk Live App and hover over the piece, and you are treated to a holiday greeting from Mohawk CEO Tom O’Connor.

SONY DSCThe result is a piece that is so much more than a holiday card, it’s a carefully considered work of impeccable craftsmanship, created by many inspired minds and hands across the country, that does the esteemed Strathmore brand proud.

Its success also means that Chris has already started thinking about this year’s card. “I’ve started taking notes on interesting possibilities — hard to believe we’re looking that far ahead!” he told me. “We’ll be introducing four new Strathmore paper colors this year, based on historical colors that have appeared in the line dating back to 1898. As we continue to curate the Strathmore Archives and discover great visual treasures, I’m sure we’ll come across another striking image that will tie in nicely. And of course, we’ll continue to mashup the heritage of the Strathmore brand with innovation through our augmented reality app, Mohawk Live.”

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