Russell + Hazel Founder Returns With Eco-Friendly Office Line
Nearly 20 years after disrupting the office supply market with her fashion-forward binders and notepads, the founder of russell + hazel is launching a new office line decidedly more down to earth.
This time, Chris Plantan swapped her signature bright colors and gold foil details for compostable pulp in muted neutrals. Introducing Good Office Day, a collection of “clean” office products made with 100 percent recyclable and compostable materials. It debuts this weekend at Target. With items priced from $4.99 to $14.99, Plantan says the goal is to give consumers “simple opportunities to make their work lives easier while making sustainability more attainable.”
Plantan started noodling the idea of greener paper goods a couple of years ago. “I just thought, why hasn’t the office products industry made sustainability a priority?” says Plantan, a Minneapolis-based architect turned product designer who counted Martha Stewart as an early and ardent fan of russell + hazel when it launched in 2003. Plantan sold the brand to Stillwater-based Gartner Studios in 2009. Since then, she’s consulted for numerous retailers and worked on product lines behind the scenes for Crate & Barrel and other nationals.
Plantan’s reputation for reimagining basic home goods endures: When 3M recently decided to update its iconic Post-it notes, they called Plantan, who co-designed Noted by Post-it, a fresh take on the classic yellow sticky squares in candy colors and a new shape—round notes—with pens and folios to match. Conceived before Covid-19, Plantan says the new collection, which launched in January, is even more relevant now, with so many people working from home. “We’re looking for new tools to be organized and also inspired at home.”
For Good Office Day, Plantan took inspiration from the garden. “If a bit of greenery is clinically proven to reduce stress, why not have a table or deskful?” There in the dirt, she discovered all the materials needed for a more mindful desk collection: bamboo, sugar cane, soy. Most items in the line are backyard compostable; every material used, from packaging to ink, is recycled, renewable or biodegradable. Plantan’s staple paper goods remain much the same: to-do pads, large notepads, file folders, folios. But for Good Office Day, the eco-friendly materials informed her earthy palate of brown, light blue, and stone. No patterns; no flashy details.
“If russell + hazel was your really preppy friend, Good Office Day is the person you go to to calm down,” Plantan says. “It’s almost completely opposite.”
Time and technology haven’t diminished Plantan’s obsession with paper, but she is thinking more these days about well-being, and small, tangible ways we can work toward healthier practices for work, and life. “It’s important to give people simple opportunities to feel like they are doing their part to help take care of the world,” Plantan and her design partner say on their website. If anything, she believes consumers today are drawn to journals and note pads as an antidote to screen time. “Remember the first day of school? There’s nothing better than feeling organized, with all the tools. It’s empowering,” says Plantan, an avid doodler. “Some of my best ideating happens away from the computer. Doodling means I’m thinking.”
Good Office Day will be available starting Sunday, March 14 at Target.com and most stores. The brand will also be sold direct to consumer at goodofficeday.com. And don’t be surprised if you see Good Office Day popping up soon in the west metro.
Listen to our conversation with Chris Plantan about product design and lifestyle trends on By All Means.