The Guide to the Great Outdoors is a fabulous book rich with information and instruction about the British outdoors. Published by Random House and authored by Charlie and Caroline Gladstone and Kate Burt, it contains irreverent and essential how-to guides, feature writing, interviews, campfire recipes and recommendations as diverse as how to get into bee-keeping and what to do in a cow stampede.
We were commissioned to design the book in its entirety: jacket, layout and all. The book needed to strike the balance between looking beautiful on a coffee table and being clear and useful to use in all kinds of outdoors situations – perhaps having been left at the bottom of a muddy rucksack for months on end. The information in the book is timeless and we wanted to design it in a way that would be passed down through generations without losing its appeal.
With such a vast range of content and format, we first devised a grid that could adapt to different chapters whilst retaining an easy-to-read consistency. To do this successfully we had to read, re-read, make notes then read again the manuscript, to make sure we understood what we would be working with inside out.
We came up with the idea of including blank pages for reader notes, and Matt Blease and Tim Winter were commissioned to provide beautiful illustrated diagrams and photography respectively. We also had to consider the context in which the book would be used, abandoning our original plans for a cloth cover to go with a special cloth-like laminated paper – which had an all-important wipe-clean finish.
“We commissioned Well Made to design The Guide to the Great Outdoors. The brief was to create a design for the inside typesetting and page layout, and a cover jacket design which would be timeless and iconic. The resulting book is a work of art. Working with Doug, Gemma and the Well Made team was, in a word, joyous. Efficient, creative, can-do, responsive and responsible – in every way enjoyable. Time and again the inimitable Doug Kerr went way beyond his brief and the call of duty, scrutinising the text with such attention to detail that he was the one picking up minor proofing errors. I can’t wait to work with him and team Well Made again.” – Rosemary Davidson, commissioning editor.