Sundance, March 1999

Without question, this is a Sundance catalog. The rustic design, the unique, handcrafted products, the use of natural materials – all show that the book is clearly a product of Robert Redford’s Utah-based arts institute.

The intriguing cover of Sundance’s Silver Award-winning March 1999 edition features a woman holding a small red hurricane lantern, which is sold on the inside spread. Once inside, attractive layouts use color to organize the unique assortment and tie various product lines together. The use of recycled paper also fits the company’s traditional southwestern themes and earth-friendly values. “Sundance has a particular niche – southwestern lifestyle and arts enthusiasts – and it consistently appeals to its target,” a judge noted.

One panelist commented on Sundance’s unconventional method of allocating space in proportion to reality. For instance, some of the jewelry is shown larger than apparel items, while a hair clip is shown the same size as a much larger handbag, making it tough to immediately gauge just how large the products are.

The informative copy is just the right length and tone, and it sells without pitching. But one judge noted that some key information was missing. For example, the description for a wall-hung quilt rack says the item is “handmade in the USA from vintage tobacco curling sticks” and lists the dimensions and price. “I would have like to have seen a better description – what kind of wood is it made of? Does it come assembled? How does it attach to the wall?”

Sundance boasts a fun and interesting product line of home decor merchandise, furniture, apparel, and jewelry, with many exclusive items. The cataloger even manages to make nonexclusive products look unique with its lifestyle photography. For instance, English bath towels are offered in muted, earth-inspired shades with names like wild mushroom and willow. The towels are also props for a refurbished stainless-steel-and-glass vintage lawyer’s bookcase.

Despite the lovely product assortment and presentation, one judge was puzzled that Sundance doesn’t better promote the catalog as a gift book. “There’s no mention of gifts on the cover, inside the cover, or on the back cover. The catalog offers gift packaging and gift certificates – in small print on the order form.”

That’s a disservice, considering Sundance’s accomplishment in building its brand and amassing a fine selection of eclectic gifts. But it helps that founder Robert Redford’s photo appears on the inside opener.

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