Blue Journal for Shepley Bulfinch, 2011–2014.

As a firm tradition, for years, the Boston-based architecture firm Shepley Bulfinch reached out to clients in an annual winter mailing. This mailing often took the form of a signed card, letter, or a commemorative poster or print. Over time, what started as a holiday gesture became an important statement that exemplified the firm’s core values.

In the time I spent helping to develop the firm’s brand, one of the biggest challenges was balancing its long history with its vibrant and creative future. It quickly became apparent to me that the previous mailings that celebrated old buildings were placing too much emphasis on the past while not emphasizing the ideas, opportunities, and the future. I wondered how an artifact could symbolize co-creation and creativity.

In this spirit, we replaced the old poster mailings with a sustainably produced, locally-made, highly-tailored bright blue journal. In her always optimistic annual letter to clients, the firm’s President, Carole Wedge, continually reminded them that “the future is theirs to create.”
In my contextual research, I discovered a rich history around “blue books”—a history that dates back to the 15th century when large blue velvet-covered books were used for record-keeping by the English Parliament. At Shepley Bulfinch, each year, to keep the journal “fresh,” we explored graphically themed endpapers.

Another challenge with the journals was how to produce them sustainably. The journals were made using 100% recycled paper processed chlorine-free. The journals were then bound in natural linen. The processing (of the paper) also used 100% renewable energy—and the brown craft packaging (also made of recycled material) was designed to be reused as a pen/pencil holder.


  • Dan Vlahos, Creative Director
  • Kirkwood Printing, Wilmington, MA
  • Acme Bookbinding, Charlestown, MA

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