— GF Smith 2011 Specifiers

I was one of the lucky few to get my hands on the new GF Smith master specifiers for 2011 before the main run are produced. With eager anticipation I opened the shiny new box with the team here, to mixed reviews.

First thing’s first, with the help of SEA, GF Smith are placing themselves in a very clever position. As the paper market is falling over – well, like a piece of paper – in today’s unsteady world, here is a company bold enough to go to extreme expense and grandeur with their swatch books. The message is loud and clear – GF Smith isn’t about competing amongst other merchants, it’s in a league of high quality papers all of it’s own.

This is why the new specifiers are so strangely contradictory in my mind. GF Smith’s goal is to appeal to designers, to show itself to be design-aware, and on the outside these specifiers are – lovely foiling, clean typography, bang on brand. Great – or is it? Open up the box and it becomes a bit of a disappointment – once the quick thrill of the cute little paper sample books that come with the paper swatch selectors has dissipated, you’re left with the task of selecting a paper stock, and this is the epic fail. Rather bafflingly the swatches have been ripped from their previous arrangement of paper kind and put into two swatch books – colour or monochrome. Open the monochrome swatch book and you’re faced with an array of tiny swatches, mixed up regardless of paper type – and they’re all white! So how does a designer looking for a paper with a certain feel, tactility and grammage – and quickly – do so when faced with 20 white tiny squares of paper?


Sorry GF Smith, not feeling it this time! It’s all bells and whistles for me.

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