BEHIND THE SCENES: Awards and Corporate Gifts in the Making

We were very excited when our client Austin Energy asked us to design the packaging for a commemorative book at the end of last year. The book would be given to City of Austin officials as a gift outlining Austin Energy’s Roadmap.

As you know, we love making the packaging an integral part of the experience of giving and receiving our awards, plaques, and gifts (i.e. our new award plaques for Austin Energy Green Building for which we designed custom packaging). We were immediately on board to design the book covers and had to get to work quickly to get them fabricated in time for the holidays.

Trophyology is a member of the MakeATX workshop and laser cutting studio. One of the many things we love about having a laser cutter available to us on a regular basis is the opportunity to experiment (it is very difficult to engage in thriving experimentation when one has to outsource the job). Another benefit is having creative exchanges with other members and we were inspired by their work for this project.  A couple of folks (Miah with Studio Tomi is one of them) work with a ‘living hinge’ as their main design element. A living hinge is created by cutting a specific pattern into a rigid piece of plywood which then becomes flexible and can be bent in a radius. It’s quite remarkable! There are several patterns with which one can ‘lace’ the plywood, but they all have common denominators, such as a carefully calculated distances between the openings and the overlap of the openings. We ran several experiments and decided on a pattern which we would cut into the 1/8” baltic birch plywood.  We also decided to stain the plywood black – it’s one of our signature packaging colors and we think it lends an additional touch of elegance. A big thank you to everyone who was so kind to share their expertise and experiences with us – we much appreciate it!

From the very beginning this project had an extraordinarily beautiful process. Every step along the way inspired us to take pictures and marvel at the incidental beauty. We collected the images and turned them into the collages we are sharing with you today. All in all, we fabricated 34 book cases; we had plenty of opportunities to record the process.

Collage 1: We protect the plywood from burn marks with a thin paper tape called R-Tape. When we pulled the tape from the plywood after it had been cut, the tape morphed into the most amazing ethereal shapes.

Collage 2: You can see the interesting formations the cut remnants left behind when we pulled the plywood sheet from the laser bed (Lebbeus Woods came to mind more than once).

Collage 3: The staining of the plywood took a total of three coats on both sides of each piece (thanks for all the supportive cheers along the way and for excusing my stained appearance during this labor of love). The pretty shadow plays in the sunshine alone were worth the effort and so were the many gorgeous shades of grey we encountered during the process.

Collage 4: The finished book covers! We will have the pieces professionally photographed soon and those images will show them with the book inside – stay tuned.


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Phone: 512.788.4558
Email: eva(at)trophyology.com