Interview with Jim Coudal of Field Notes

This little brand is highly regarded by many designers and is a product used all over the world. Field Notes, created by Draplin Design Company in conjunction with Coudal Partners, is inspired by the vanishing subgenre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers and the simple, unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list. We’ve got a bunch of these little accessories laying around in the office and they get daily use, whether it be jotting down ideas or drawing, I always carry around my notebook and Field Notes pencil.

We got together with Jim Coudal from Coudal Partners, one side of this project, to ask him about Field Notes and what they have in store for us. Read on below.

How did the idea of Field Notes as a company originate?

Aaron Draplin made up a small batch of Field Notes notebooks to give to friends. He gave us some and we said, “let’s try and make this a business.” A few weeks later we launched the site and made a couple sales on the very first day. And we were off …

What’s the philosophy behind Field Notes?

Made-in-the-USA, honest, straightforward products that we need. And hopefully others need them too. Plus we need to have fun and of course, Futura Bold rules.

I own a selection of Field Notes accessories myself. They all seem to have some sort of character about them, is this intentional?

Yes, we try to create logical additions to the original memo books and keep everything in a unified look, feel and voice.

Have you been surprised by the different markets in which the product has touched? I know they are extremely popular with designers and creatives alike.

One of our favorite things about the brand is that it fits equally as well in an Upper Peninsula Michigan Deer Shack as does in a Brooklyn Independent Coffee Shop. We’ve purposefully tried to get Field Notes in as many different kinds of shops and stores as possible. It’s nice to be in stationary stores but it’s also interesting to be in barber shops and surf shops.

I’ve seen you like to produce seasonal Limited-Edition Memo Books, could you explain a bit about this?

It’s a way for us to offer subscriptions to our customers, to try out different production techniques, keep things fresh and most of all have fun. We’ve done ten so far and the current ones, The Dry Transfer Editions, are super popular and let me tell you about the summer edition, it’s totally cool and … maybe I better not.

What makes you stand out from your competitors?

No idea. We only worry about what we’re doing and about how we can makes stuff better and more interesting. So far so good.

Any other items that you are looking to release in the near future? Do you think Field Notes could expand into developing different product types?

Yes, we have a new product planned for May that is going to really surprise people, in a nice way. We’re aiming to get one of them in every vacation house in America this summer, so stay tuned.