You’ve probably seen Field Notes' slim pocket-sized memo books with kraft paper covers and bold black lettering. They’re such popular and iconic little notebooks that it seems as if they’ve always been around, but in fact Field Notes is a thoroughly modern company. Their timeless designs are no accident, though - they grew right out of American history.
Field Notes is a collaboration between Portland, Oregon-based designer Aaron Draplin and Chicago-based Coudal Partners, a digital advertising and marketing company. Draplin, who was born in the Midwest, developed an addiction to the memo books he found at the farm sales and estate sales he frequented. These little books were promotional material that seed companies, farm equipment manufacturers, and other agricultural companies would give to farmers as a way to advertise their product. Draplin began collecting these memo books to draw and write in, and became enamored of the history they contained and the notes he found in them that were a record of people’s everyday lives and hard work.
In 2006, Draplin designed a memo book of his own and made 200 copies on a small press in his basement to give out to his friends. One of the recipients was Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners, who thought the memo book had a fabulous design and would make a great product. He partnered up with Draplin, and in 2007, Field Notes was born.
Staying close to its roots in American history, Field Notes sources every element of its products from the US, from the paper and ink right down to the staples. They’ve produced dozens of variations on their classic memo book, but they never stray far from the bold design and straightforward, functional, down-to-earth vibes of the original booklets that inspired them. They use only one typeface (Futura, designed in 1927 by Paul Renner), which gives their notebooks a vintage look and ties all their products together.
We love Field Notes’ design sense, their value for history, and their commitment to quality and utility. We also love their playfulness! Since 2008, Field Notes has been producing quarterly limited editions of their notebooks that honor different elements of American history and culture, push the limits of their designs, or simply explore a creative idea.
The Paper Mouse has been carrying Field Notes for almost as long as we’ve been in business, and we’re always eager for their next design! We’ve got their latest limited editions in stock now: Field Notes Fifty, which marks the milestone of their fiftieth quarterly edition notebook, and the Trailhead Edition, a hiking-themed notebook that’s right in time for summer.
P.S. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for a special Field Notes giveaway this week! The lucky winners will receive the brand new Trailhead Edition or a beautiful box set of National Parks memo books.