Introducing Stockholm17

"Stockholm17" might not mean much to most of my readers. But it's the online handle and home of Lorenzo Gaggiotti, creator of several popular decks of playing cards.

The handle Stockholm17 already gives an obvious clue about his home, which is the city of Stockholm, Sweden. But Lorenzo's real name hints at Italian roots. Lorenzo moved to Stockholm from Italy several years ago due to the challenging economic climate, and in order to start a new life in Sweden. Fortunately for us he took with him his abilities as an artist, which were already evident at age 3. He grew up in a home where his mother was a painter, and where his passion for drawing had lots of room to grow.

And grow it did. Today Lorenzo is a product designer and illustrator, and has a job in a small company as a graphic designer, besides his own projects at Stockholm17. His discovery of custom decks of playing cards proved to be the ideal platform for him to explore his love for creative design. While he has no experience in magic or cardistry, it is his passion for design that fuels his creative process as applied to the world of playing cards. Typically he gets inspired by a theme or idea, and does a lot of thinking and sketching with this in mind before starting a digital version of the final design.

So far he's produced several decks in a number of variations: Requiem (Autumn & Winter), Heretic (Lux & Noctis), No.17 (Bicycle branded & Unbranded), No.17 Le Chat Rouge (Standard & Red Label), Ravn (Red & Green), and most recently, Gemini. In this review, I will give you an overview of Lorenzo's successful portfolio so far, including a review of a couple of his decks of playing cards that I personally have acquired and own, I'll also share some information about the Gemini deck that he currently has in production. Be prepared for some elegance, class, and art!



Requiem Playing Cards

Requiem was Lorenzo's first Kickstarter project, and was a huge success, despite being a rather dark deck that won't be to everyone's taste. But even critics will have to concede that it features some powerful and poetic images.



The Requiem deck has intricate artwork with an unusual combination of colours.



But if you look closely, the melancholy theme emerges: the suits include Hearts that are broken, Clubs that have thorns, Diamonds that are cracked, and Spades that are dry leaves.



The deck is the product of a very personal love story that had a sad ending. After being at the receiving end of a romantic relationship that ended in a drastic and painful fashion, Lorenzo conceived this deck to symbolize the darkness and suffering his soul had experienced at the hands of his ex, who is represented by the Queen of Spades.



Consequently the deck has a lot of images expressing grief and pain.



While some artists write poems or songs to express their emotions, Lorenzo made a card deck, full of symbols and meanings, and even hidden references to specific dates and feelings. A companion card gives clues about these details.



The illustrations show darkness, blood, tears, sadness, and pain, and there's a lot of bad feelings that are captured here.

Even so, Requiem proved to be a big hit, building up Lorenzo's fan base, and paving the way for his later successes. An uncut sheet gives an overview of the entire deck, showing its unusual beauty.



Here are a couple of more cards from this powerful and emotion-laden deck.



Heretic Playing Cards

Lorenzo's next project, Heretic, was based on alchemy and the hermetic world.



The three basic ingredients used by an alchemist are Salt (Jacks), Sulfur (Queens), and Mercury (Kings), and you'll notice these symbols throughout the deck.



This really is a beautiful deck with a lot of character, and it's not surprising that it has been extremely popular.



This deck was actually designed before Requiem, but ended up being published afterwards with the benefit of some improvements and tweaks.



Lorenzo's own passion for alchemy lies at the heart of this deck, and his love of this theme and its symbols is evident throughout the design.



Two beautiful versions of this deck were produced, a Lux (light) deck, and a Noctis (dark) deck, with different colour schemes.



The Aces in both decks are detailed and beautiful.



No. 17 Playing Cards

The No. 17 deck has had three versions, as Lorenzo has continued to improved and refined it over time.

Version 1

The first edition of the series of No 17 decks was made as a secret and promotional deck for cardlauncher.com, and printed by MakePlayingCards.com in 2014. It was a limited edition with a small print run of just 530 copies.



Version 2

In 2015, Lorenzo produced an improved edition of the original No. 17 deck, with funding via Kickstarter and printing by US Playing Cards Company.



A notable feature of this deck is the intricate artwork on the card backs and on cards like the Aces.



The court cards also are beautifully detailed and stylish.



Of special interest is that in very small print around the court cards there is text in ancient Greek and Latin. While they are random sentences, they are taken directly from ancient sources: the Greek from Homer's Iliad and the Latin from Virgil's Aeneid.



Two versions were produced, a Bicycle version and an unbranded version.



No. 17 "Le Chat Rouge" Playing Cards

Version 3

In 2016, Lorenzo produced the third incarnation of his No. 17 series, which he entitled Le Chat Rouge, and which he personally considers "elegant and intriguing".



It has an absolutely stunning tuck box, which was embossed on black paper with red and black foil accents, and with an amazing and intricate custom cut-out showing the center of the card backs.



Le Chat Rouge is intended to be the final version of the series, and was printed by Expert Playing Card Company. After good experiences with Expert Playing Company on another project, Lorenzo had confidence in their precise alignment during the printing process to add elegant black inner borders on all the card faces.



As Lorenzo himself said in an interview, products like the iPhone series keep evolving, and that's true of his decks as well! Indeed, why not?!



Also added were red foil accents to the back of the cards. It is small cosmetic enhancements like these that help take this successful deck to the next level, even though it did make the deck more expensive due to the higher production costs required for this.



The updated version feels more polished and complete, and the enhancements have helped turn something that was already good into something great. Here's a direct comparison between two cards from both versions, the newer "Le Chat Rouge" on the right.



"Le Chat Rouge" is French for "red cat", and in keeping with this, both jokers are jester cats. A red cat also makes an appearance on top of the Ace of Diamonds.



Ravn Playing Cards

Ravn Playing Cards was a semi-custom deck designed for a magician, Caroline Ravn.



The stated aim was to create an elegant and classic looking deck, with improved court cards but with standard pips, making it ideal for card magic, cardistry, and poker games.



Given that it was created for a magician, it's no surprise that this deck includes a couple of gaff cards that those who dabble in card magic will appreciate: a double queen, a double backer, plus the Joker card has a nice reveal for the two of clubs.



This deck was produced in a green version and in a red version.



It was intended to look like an ordinary looking deck for most of the face cards, which was necessary to avoid distraction for using it to perform magic, while at the same time remaining classy and stylish.



Gemini Playing Cards

The Gemini deck is Lorenzo's current project, and maybe even his best yet.



As an indication of how much support he enjoys, this was almost 400% over-funded on Kickstarter! It is currently nearing the completion of production, and is scheduled to become available in the next couple of months.



Interesting elements of this deck include the Aces depicted as axes, and the court cards interacting with their pips.



The name of this deck is based on the court cards (JQK), which look symmetrical at first glance, but have small differences that can be spotted when you examine the top and bottom halves of the cards more closely, like the Queen of Spades shown here. Hence the name Gemini, which is the Latin word for "twin"!



The rest of the deck conveys a classic, medieval feeling, as you can see from this uncut sheet.



Here's another example of court cards showing detail of the imaginative interaction of the court personalities with their pips.



I just love the medieval style and look of this deck, and it has to be among the best Lorenzo has made so far!



Extras

Lorenzo has some fascinating ideas about Kickstarter, and a unique approach. As part of that he gives extra gifts to his backers, like buttons, stickers, magnets, bottle openers, coasters and more.



He also has many cool and unusual ideas for add-ons beyond the usual uncut sheets - a recent project even included uncut tuck-box sheets!

Conclusions

I have been excited to write this review about the Stockholm17 range of playing cards, and in the process I have been blown away by Lorenzo's creativity and the thought he puts into his design.

It is poetic: It is genuinely artistic and poetic, and this is especially true of his Requiem deck. I just love the poetic emotion Lorenzo has poured into these cards, making it a deck full of meaning and significance, which he created to express emotions just like other artists would write poems or songs! Bravo!

It is polished: The poetic qualities of his work would be sufficient to make them a real work of art. But artistic genius alone won't make something successful - it needs to be published, produced, and brought to the public. And Lorenzo indeed has the creative skills and connections to back up his artistic creativity with a polished product, and make it become a reality.

It is perfected: It's clear that Lorenzo has a passion for perfectionism and polish, and is really committed to making something the very best that it can be. This is also evidenced by the evolution of the No 17 decks, which have continued to change shape as he came up with new ideas, in an effort to make a good thing even better.

It is passionate: Lorenzo clearly has a real gift with and passion for creative design, which is evident also from the way he has set up his website, and the composition of his photos. His attention to detail is remarkable, and he approaches his craft with the zeal and enthusiasm needed to produce decks of this kind of calibre.

It is stylish: Lorenzo has produced some stunning work, which reflects a unique inimitable style that is very much his own. They stand out from a lot of other custom decks of playing cards, precisely because of these stylish aspects.

With much experience gained after multiple successful projects, an established fan-base, a unique style, and a creator of quality and creative decks, Lorenzo is definitely an artist to keep an eye on. While all his decks of playing cards are excellent, each has its own feel, and I look forward to see what Stockholm17 comes up with next! Bravo Lorenzo Gaggiotti, and grazie!



So where can you get yourself some Stockholm17 stuff?

Website - Learn more and subscribe for updates at his website: stockholm17.com
Online shop - Find links to where you can buy his decks and custom Stockholm items via his shop page: stockholm17.com/shop
Social media - Lorenzo is active on several social media platforms, where you can follow his work, and get news on his latest projects: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


BoardGameGeek reviewer

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Russ Williams
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Those are very attractive indeed! Beautiful and interesting while still looking clearly readable and not too distracting, for playing card games if you like.

You've done several extensive articles now about these various artistic decks of cards. I have no idea how much more expensive these decks are than normal card decks; it could be interesting if you would give some idea of the price range for them in your articles.

I'm also curious whether most people who buy them only collect them and keep them pristine, or whether some (many?) of the purchasers also use them to really play card games.
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David G. Cox Esq.
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Good Job!arrrh
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russ wrote:
You've done several extensive articles now about these various artistic decks of cards. I have no idea how much more expensive these decks are than normal card decks; it could be interesting if you would give some idea of the price range for them in your articles.
Specialized decks like these are typically in the neighbourhood of around $15 each.

Not all of the ones reviewed above are readily available right now, but RarePlayingCards has some of them in stock for around that price range, e.g. click here for: Ravn Playing Cards and No. 17 Playing Cards.



russ wrote:
Those are very attractive indeed! Beautiful and interesting while still looking clearly readable and not too distracting, for playing card games if you like.

I'm also curious whether most people who buy them only collect them and keep them pristine, or whether some (many?) of the purchasers also use them to really play card games.
There certainly are people who just collect custom playing cards as a hobby. But there are several other groups that cards like these appeal to besides collectors:
1. Magicians: decks like the Ravn playing cards are used by magicians; in fact this deck was custom designed for magician Caroline Ravn.
2. Players: people who enjoy poker or other traditional games often also will appreciate and use a deck that has a more classy and elegant look than a normal deck, and yet where it is still very functional, just as you describe.
3. Cardistry: due to the unusual designs on the back of some custom decks, some are loved for use by card flourishers, see for example the Virtuoso deck reviewed here.
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Armand
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I just bought No.17 (and threw in some Tally Ho and Aristocrats) from Rare Playing Cards. All kinds of annoyed that I missed Gemini. I also subscribed to Stockholm17.

I definitely will use these to play with. I wish there was a really beautiful six suit deck to play Parade!

Thanks!
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