Great Beginnings is a mid-1980’s collaboration between Paula Scher and Steven Koppel. In beginning a new design studio, they believed that their strength and the reason that clients would hire them was their flexible, expressive typographic style. To sell the great beginnings of their new studio, they created a small self-promotional book that featured the first two paragraphs of famous novels. Each chapter opener was designed in the graphic style from the period in which the novel was written.
The designs are bold, the type functions both as form and content, the graphic elements are seamlessly combined with the type, and the minimal color pallet unifies the stylistically diverse spreads. The concept as a self-promotion for a new firm is excellent and portrays the designers as intelligent, tasteful, and culturally and visually literate.
The production of the book—a 5” x 7” two-color, perfect-bound piece—was both economical and effective in attracting and maintaining attention. The booklet attracted attention stylistically: in the context of the 80’s the all-type, historically informed designs were innovative. The booklet maintained attention as a physical object: Scher remarks that in all her years of receiving promotional material, she never threw away perfect-bound booklets.
Scher and Koppel printed and mailed six thousand copies of the book to potential clients. The promotion proved successful and they received calls for new buisness almost immediately. An unintended consequence of the booklet, however, was that many clients viewed it as a catalog of style. They assumed that Koppel & Scher were a period design group, that they'd be ordering a constructivist or art nouveau design. Scher writes, “All through the eighties clients seemed to believe they were buying style, not thinking.”
Images and quote from Make It Bigger, Paula Scher, pp66–69, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002.