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 or 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 the firm’s long history with its vibrant and creative future. Sometimes old habits are hadn’t to break but it quickly became clear to me that the previous mailings that celebrated old buildings were placing too much emphasis on the past, and not placing emphasis on futuring—considering the challenges and possibilities of the future. How, I wondered could we bring creativity, co-creation and problem solving to the fore?

In this spirit, we replaced the old poster mailings with a simple, locally-made, highly tailored bright blue journal. In her always optimistic letter to clients the firms President, Carole Wedge would continually remind that “the future is yours to create.”

In my contextual research while working on this project I discovered a rich history around “blue books”—one that dates back to the 15th century, when large blue velvet-covered books were used for record keeping by the English Parliament. Each year, to keep the journal fresh we explored different annually themed end papers.

Another challenge with the journals was how to produce them sustainably. The journals were made using 100% recycled paper, which was 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 and—

Kirkwood Printing, Wilmington, MA
Acme Binding, Boston, MA

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