Koa Press Ltd Tonia Shuttleworth

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Tonia Shuttleworth
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Tonia Shuttleworth
  • Kaitautoko / Contributor
    Julia Atkinson-Dunn

‘Petal Power’ is a contemporary gardening title and the debut book published by Koa Press, one of Aotearoa’s newest independent publishing houses. It is a collaboration between the author (Julia Atkinson-Dunn from Studio Home) and myself (Tonia Shuttleworth) the publisher/designer, seeing the two of us work closely together from concept through to print and distribution. 

From its conception, we recognised the amateur subject matter of this book was likely to mean it would be the first gardening publication ever purchased by the majority of our target readers. Our goal was to mirror Julia's supportive approach with a surprising, attractive cover and clean, user friendly page design. With the content and beautiful imagery produced by the author in her own Christchurch garden over three years, my response was to create a design that felt both fresh and contemporary while still being colourful and uplifting to inspire the reader.

Featuring 12 plants with personality to grow for garden and vase, the primary goal of the book is to fill an obvious gap in the gardening book shelf. Helpfully bridging newcomers to gardening by demystifying the processes and its often-exclusive lingo, all supported by an attention grabbing presentation that would stand out among other gardening titles and hold its own beside lifestyle and design books. The content is uncluttered, with simple tables to follow, visual step by steps, and annotations with the authors experiences all mixed with practical words of advice from start to finish.

With 12 flowers to showcase it seemed logical to divide the book into 12 chapters, with an extensive beginner’s guide at the front of the book, and at the rear, a final chapter on cut flowers and arranging. Driving home the relatable aspect that Julia has “practiced what she has preached”, I felt each chapter opener needed a visually stunning DPS to inspire and engage the reader. The overall design presents a balance of full bleed images and content-driven pages. I used a bold, modern serif font as the chapter openers which reflects the playful nature of the arrangements and the author’s style. The secondary font is a clean, modern light san serif which works beautifully with the bold titling.

The choice of soft cover was intentional, giving the book the feeling of a practical journal that the reader can easily flick through and not to be mistaken as, an often static, coffee table publication. To counter this and deliver on a feeling of quality, I selected a specialist cover stock that boasts a beautiful textured linen look, complimented by embossing the title and adding a generous gatefold that could also be used as a bookmark. The result is a special, tactile quality that reflects the rich and unique content within. 

Petal Power has been superbly received by new and existing gardening enthusiasts (including many non-gardeners!) of Aotearoa, Australia, UK and USA with, at the time of entering the awards, has sold over 1800 copies and is stocked in over 110 stores.