New Beginnings and a New Elephant

Kate and Jonathan of Starch Green



This is the first time Dan, and Jonathan and Kate at Starch Green have worked together, although obviously they have common aesthetic tastes. Delighted to hear from Dan early in 2023, about collaborating on a planner, Jonathan and Kate put their thinking caps on (doubtless ones made at Old Town). ‘At that point we researched planners. You realise there are quite a lot of different ones. A lot of them are quite workmanlike.’ 

Then they produced a flurry of sketches for Dan, looking at different formats and orientations. Kate expands: ‘We quite like the Kynoch Press notebooks with all the Ravilious bits in. We were thinking of that sort of thing. We mocked it up. Because it’s a leap year we wanted a theme and I’d drawn leaping animals. Then Dan said Emily Sutton had a toy collection and maybe we could use it. And she was happy with that.’  

They were keen, all along, that the planner would be functional, with spaces big enough to write in, and the weekends aligned and highlighted to give some navigation. Starting with A1 as a size, various design constraints had to be factored in. Kate: ‘We wanted it to be easy to post. I made up this size which I called New Elephant, after Elephant imperial. The planner has an elephant on it, too.’ They looked to the Penfold branding done by Studio Connie for established elements they could incorporate. Jonathan: ‘The typeface is part of the Penfold Press identity. We stuck to those guidelines as much as possible.’   

For those who are interested (and we know that’s you, dear reader) the headline typeface is Antique No 6 Bold, with other text in Figgins Sans Regular. Jonathan: ‘Studio Connie did a great job, giving the Press identity a character that carries all the Penfold illustrators. It evokes mid-century. The planner is a vehicle for illustration in one regard and it’s also a vehicle for Dan to show off his wares as a printer. But we also wanted it to be true to us in design terms.’ 

All in all the three-way planner collaboration went well. All parties are still talking to each other and using the word ‘fun’ without irony to describe the project. ‘It was a learning curve’, Jonathan says, ‘In the end what you want to look simple and effortless, is not simple and effortless to achieve.’ But they also really enjoyed the process and the tasty results. ‘We’re pencilling in the idea that this was such a fun thing that wouldn’t it be great to do it every year?’ 

Jane Audas