17/05/2013

Christchurch Couple Rise from Quake Ashes to Business Pinnacle

A couple who lost virtually everything in the Christchurch earthquakes has risen to the top of the business mountain by winning the most prestigious prize in New Zealand’s printing and packaging awards.

The traditional postcard may never look quite the same again after Arria Design Group Limited of Albany, North Shore, designed a translucent plastic card that allows light to shine through photographs of beautiful scenery.

Arria’s New Zealand Postcard - Milford Sound took the Supreme Award at the 2013 Pride In Print Awards, stunning judges with the innovative quality of its design.

The card shows a photograph of a native tui bird against a backdrop of the beautiful Milford Sound.

Arria director Matt Foster, who with his wife Adie was a victim of the earthquakes, came up with an ingenious way to create see-through images for use in various forms including bookmarks.

Their production methods are kept strictly confidential but the effect is to create something out of the ordinary. It has immediately paid commercial dividends.

Matt used his screen-printing tradesperson experience to develop a way of working on multi-layered printing on both sides of “glass-clear” polycarbonate, creating stunning depth effects, transparency and opacity. This process, used by leading companies to ignite their brands and sales, is unique and proprietary to the Arria Print Group.

It is totally focused on a commercial result.

“We sell these postcards to retailers through distribution outlets. It’s going well. We are about to start producing a range for Australian distribution and we are targeting other international markets,” says Matt.

It is a massive leap for a couple who until a few years ago were counting the pennies to invest in new machinery in their original Foster Screeprinting and then saw their Christchurch property devastated in the earthquakes.

It came as a result of some technical hard yards. Screen printing is notoriously prone to being affected by dust and contamination, and Arria developed a “clean room” mentality.

“We have people wearing the whole apparel — head gear, suits, the lot. We need it to achieve the quality we are aiming at,” says Matt.

Pride In Print judges agreed with him.

Senior judge Symon Yendoll said that as far as postcards are concerned, the see-through images were a step outside the square.

“They are creating something different from the norm of cardboard or metal bookmarks which have to use adornments such as tassels as points of difference.

“This is very innovative, fantastic concept. It is changing our definitions of the ‘postcard’.

“It can be mailed but is the first time plastic has been used in this way.

“The production process is very labour-intensive and there has been a lot of care going into its making. It is well thought-out and produced with excellence,” he said.

The New Zealand Postcard - Milford Sound also shared the Industry Development Category prize at Pride In Print with the Pizza Hut Hot Dots entered by Impressions International Ltd of Auckland.