Isley on developing a capital campaign and a textbook design solution
Alumnus Alexander Isley sent us an update on some recent projects that his design firm Alexander Isley Inc. has been involved in, including work on a capital campaign for Durham Academy and a recently completed design for a textbook.
What We’re Excited About Today
We work with a variety of educational institutions, but this one’s particularly close to our hearts.
Durham Academy is a pre-K through 12 independent school in North Carolina. Over the past fifteen years we’ve worked with them in developing key identity and communication initiatives, from creating the school’s logo, viewbook, and admission materials to designing announcements, fliers, and even a sundial tower for one of the campuses.
A recent task has been helping launch a major capital campaign to expand Durham Academy’s Upper School, and it’s been one of our most rewarding (and fun) activities to date.
Initially, we worked with DA’s campaign committee to establish a communication plan. We then developed a name for the campaign and went on to create a series of informative print- and screen-based outreach tools to aid in introducing the initiative and encouraging donations.
The cornerstone of the campaign is an over-sized book we titled “Big Ambitions.” It was developed to be a compelling conversation starter for those making face-to-face presentations to potential donors.
These “case statement” fundraising pieces are typically standard pocket folders with loose sheets of paper and perhaps a small brochure tucked inside. We wanted to do something that better conveyed the impressive scope and intent of the program, and we felt a simple flier just would not do. The mission we were given was to do something truly different, powerful, and unexpected. (As designers, we can’t hope for better direction than that — it’s one of the many reasons DA is close to our hearts.)
Our plan was to produce a document that would be, to be honest, a bit intrusive. We wanted to tell a big story in a form that would be difficult to ignore.
The result is an intricately produced, large-scale artifact that commands attention. The cover is a pop-up architectural structure that spells out “BIG,” where the letters represent the three new structures to be built. Turning each page is an adventure, and the narrative is short, sweet, and compelling.
For those who might ask, the paper is fully recycled and, thanks to careful planning, the piece didn’t cost any more to produce than the typical flier-folder-insert combination.
The campaign is well on its way to achieving its goal, and construction is now in progress.
Above: a couple of spreads from the brochure. We also developed the name and logo for the campaign, along with followup presentation and communication pieces. Alex introduced a companion video presentation at the campaign’s kickoff event.
Checking One Off the List
We’ve designed cook books, travel books, gift books, art books, commemorative books, guidebooks, instructional books, children’s books, design books, photography books, thoughtful books, silly books, good books, and bad books.
But we’ve never designed a textbook.
This has been on our Bucket List for years.
So we were all quite jazzed when we got a call from the venerable Oxford University Press to design not just one book, but the two-volume “Patterns of World History,” a college text by Peter von Sivers, Charles A. Desnoyers, and George B. Stow.
The project was all that we’d hoped it would be: a fat, juicy set of books addressing an interesting subject. The assignment would require, broadly, three things: the need for a well-considered approach to information design; the requirement for a standardized set of maps and charts; and the use of customized, innovative illustrations.
In addition to the two volumes, we also created one combined version as well as a modified approach for the Texas market. (That’s a whole ’nother story — and one those of you in the educational publishing world already know, we’re certain.)
At any rate, here’s how they turned out. We’re showing a couple of the covers, some interior spreads, and a few of the over 30 illustrations we created, each a summarized interpretation of an individual chapter. It’s always fun to do something for the first time, and on this complex undertaking we had quite a ball.
The way things are going, we don’t know how much longer textbooks will continue to be printed, so we’re glad we were able to have this most enjoyable experience before the future plops itself upon us.
Next on the Bucket List: Design a really good sofa.
Below: a few of the informational diagrams summarizing individual chapters.