AIGA New York Custom Wraps the Holidays

Each year the AIGA New York chapter calls on its board members to design custom gift wrap sold to benefit the chapter’s mentoring program, a 20+ year collaboration to support the High School of Art and Design in New York City. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the process as explained by a few of the participating AIGA NY board members.

Ten AIGA NYC board members volunteer to create a unique gift wrap design. Several combinations of colors are proposed (this year the colors proposed were: Pantone 805 U & Pantone 201 U // Pantone 554 U & Pantone 2645 U // Hexachrome Green U & Pantone 805 U) and board members collectively vote for their favorite color combination to unite the group of designs. Ultimately, Pantone 805 U & Pantone 201 U were selected.  “We wanted to pick a set of color that still had any underlining holiday feel but wasn’t an obvious choice,” says McKenna Cottam, of Ro&Co.

RoAndCo: For this year’s AIGA gift wrap, we wanted to re-interpret the repetition found within traditional holiday patterns, with a graphic inspired by the studios current influencers. The undulating curves of Verner Panton helped inspire the background’s wave pattern, layered beneath a geometric grid reminiscent of Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings. A sprinkle of texture that felt like a mix between terrazzo (our most loved surface of the moment) and snow, was then peppered throughout the graphic as a final nod to the holiday season.       



Samarskaya & Partners: We make all of our fonts from scratch, with a deeply held belief that it’s the ingredients that make the meal.  For the holiday wrapping paper, we looked in our cupboards to see what we already had to work with. The font showcased on the left is Wyeth, a condensed sans serif in nine weights that is currently in pre-release. The close-up in the middle and the main type used is Diote, a large sprawling serif family that’s meant to seamlessly travel between screen and print display settings. Making brief appearances are also Blesk, a show pony we released earlier this year, and Messenger, a quirky sans coming in early 2016.           

Samarskaya & Partners_resized

Small Stuff Design: Small Stuff’s design process was dictated by the serendipitous overlap of the studio’s favorite NY breakfast food with the printing specs. A pumpernickel bagel matching Pantone 201 U, cream cheese matching Mohawk Via Smooth Pure White, and smoked salmon matching Pantone 805 were recreated with Adobe Illustrator CC Software (primarily the circle tool and the schmear tool) in about 5 minutes. About the same time it takes to eat a bagel. This photo is a recreation of the process.


MGMT Design: Design ideas start during group lunch at the office.  Someone tells about a recent incident where a dog named ‘Trigger’ accidentally shot his owner. The concept of guns+dogs is born. Research begins, sketches get pinned up, patterns begin to take shape. Illustration quality and level of detail are determined; color is added! 

dog screengrab




color detail

Designed on Mohawk Via Smooth Pure White 60 text (on 23 x 36” oversized sheets) and printed by Datagraphic, a total of 4,000 sheets will be printed and featured on display at the AIGA NY chapter holiday party. Attendees can purchase the gift wrap to support the High School of Art and Design. For more information about the AIGA NYC Chapter holiday party, visit Happy Holidays!

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