The LPC Island Books were commissioned in 2009. The Boxed set of 4 books were created to document a very special property in the Bahamas. The owners of the 38-acre private island estate were considering listing the property for sale and wanted a comprehensive catalog to provide potential buyers as well as a keepsake gift for their guests and perhaps a way for them to remember the island once they had sold it. A simple brochure or flyer just wasn’t going to do, so creative director, Shari Schultz, envisioned this stunning 4 book series – One book each for the Exuma Islands, the Island itself (LPC) including the infrastructure and amenities, the Dwellings including the four guest cottages and main house, and the Operations Village which includes the staff quarters, storage warehouses, generators, water treatment plant and engineering complex.
Photographer Gary Coleman was already very familiar with the client and had been to the island several times previously. Using his collection of images as a start we began pulling together the books. I soon realized however, that was lacking a comprehension of what we were seeing and also missing some key images to produce the project we wanted. So the client graciously flew myself, Gary Coleman and the rest of the design and writing team to the Island so that we could wrap up the project. Also accompanying us was the family butler, to look after us in spectacular fashion. We only had 4-5 days, however to get what we needed, so we set to work immediately on the porch of the refectory overlooking the beach below. The space was great and the view was spectacular, but we were reluctantly driven inside by the oppressive heat. So that evening, I made the call to set us up in the laundry – the only place with air conditioning and a table large enough to allow us to spread things out.
The laundry room however, while comfortable, was not the most inspiring room nor conducive to our creative endeavour, and after a couple of days we were all burned out. So on the third day I took the afternoon off to explore some of the island that I had only seen in pictures. I grabbed a couple of beers and took a golf cart down to the dock where I quickly finished them off. Diving into the lagoon I swam to one of the beaches, waded ashore and settled into a waiting hammock strung between some shady palms. The pressure and frustration that had been clouding my mind for the past few days began to dissipate and I soon began to see the island anew. I had discovered paradise and with it a sudden clarity for how I’d pull the books together. Everything I was experiencing was an amazing new discovery. Even the littlest things had taken on a new dimension. If I could convey the joy of discovering this pristine paradise – the trip here, seeing it for the first time, exploring the island, etc – then that would provide the narrative that would tie all the elements together.
I hurried back to the laundry, grabbed a notebook and pencil, and a couple more beers. I returned to my hammock and started writing. I wrote about the seaplane that brought us here – how the turquoise water looked from the air. I wrote about how, upon seeing the island for the first time, my assistant Boo Gilder dove in with her clothes still on and swam to shore from the floating platform where the seaplane had unloaded us. I wrote of how the soft white sand swallowed my feet as I walked along the pristine beach – and how mine were the only footprints on the entire beach – as if I were the only one on the island. I wrote about the lizards that scampered everywhere, and how the birds and water lapping at the shore were the only sounds you could hear. I wrote journal-style antidotes – both real and fabricated – to tie together all the aspects of the books as if someone were experiencing it all from morning to night and writing about it in their diary. Later, after exploring the other side of the island and enjoying one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, I returned to the laundry rejuvenated and with a plan. My compatriots may have thought I was crazy when I came in and started raving about my visions and trashing days of designs to make room for the new journal entries, but my enthusiasm was infectious as I explained my concept and we all worked late into the night.
Morning comes early when you’re on a deadline – even in paradise – but I woke energized and was back at the table before breakfast. With a direction firmly in mind I was eager to weave the journal theme through the books, and things rapidly came together. We easily made more progress that day then we had the previous three, and when we finally departed the following morning, the books were 95% complete. I still have that notebook and pencil – mementos of my time in paradise, and these books stand as one of the crowning achievements of my career.