Formpave 2012 Collection
Here's a bit of a radical change. For as long as I can remember, Formpave (or Heidelberg Hanson Formpave to give them their full name) have produced a superb brochure which was very much aimed at specifiers and contractors rather than homeowners. Part of the superbness, though, was that the brochures were easily understood by homeowners and DIYers; it was just a matter of them not being cover-to-cover with pretty photies, clever lighting and cynical marketing tricks. They were a masterclass in well-presented technical information especially with regard to permeable paving, a cause championed by Formpave long before anyone else.
So when the new brochure arrives, it takes a second or two for it to click that this is Formpave and not some slick new manufacturer looking to grab a piece of the British market. And guess what? The Formpave offering is a 'collection' too! Just like all the other marketing-led manufacturers over the last few years. I thought it was only saddo anoraks like me that collected paving?
Anyway, what we have is a large format (280x280mm) full colour brochure on heavyweight satin paper, but only 32 pages. The distinctive olive-green band across the top and the subdued Formpave logo bottom left are the only thing that gives away the actual source of this 'collection'.
And straight away, they are making big noise about their long pedigree with permeable paving. And rightly so! They've been working at it for over 20 years, and as one of the true innovators in the field of Concrete Block Permeable Paving (CBPP), so they deserve credit for all their efforts.
What must, I suppose, be referred to as a Contents page is quite clever. I like the pictorial display which keeps it simple but incredibly user-friendly. Obviously, if you've only 32 pages, it's much easier to achieve this sort of layout but this sets the tone for what follows: it's all very much geared towards clarity and simplicity.
There's a straightforward explanation of the differences between conventional and permeable paving, which products fall into which category, and a graphic explanation of the costs involved. Lovely and simple, with the one exception being their insistence on referring to multi-size paving as “Combined”. Combined with what? Combined suggests it is to be used in conjunction with something else, whereas Multi-Size is pretty much self-explanatory.
Once the actual products are introduced, starting with the Eco-Granite range, what strikes immediately is the generosity of the photies. They are HUGE. Each product is afforded a spectacular main image which shows off that particular paver to its best advantage, and is supplemented with subsidiary images showing kerb option, colour variations, or layout choices. The explanatory text is concise but genuinely useful, managing to avoid the florid language that is sometimes used to distract the reader from the lack of meaningful information.
On the Eco-granite range, I wondered why all of the joints seem to be empty. I know it adds definition to the individual blocks, but is it a fair representation of how the paving will actually look when laid?
Moving on beyond the Chartres standard blocks, which always look scratched to me (and to a number of clients I've had to soothe over the years) the images of the Chartres Cobbles (sic) in Purbeck colour against a wall of what looks like Cornish Slate, is simply delicious. There's a less than obvious reference to the fact that they 'Cobbles' have been laid with 8-10mm joints and filled using an unspecified “jointing compound”. Now, I can probably guess which 'jointing compound' this is, but it would have been useful to provide this information to the readers because those images WILL sell this paver and the Formpave sales Office is going to be mothered senseless with the same question.
As we move on and reach the section for permeable paving, the sheer quality of the images continues to impress, and it is reassuring to spot the unmistakable styling of Formpave cross-section drawings used to explain the difference between 'infiltration' (System A) and 'tanked' (System C) permeable systems, with a well written short article on the potential for rainwater harvesting, a topic that's bound to arouse interest in these testing drought conditions we're currently enduring (excuse me while I pull on my wellies).
The technical information section is gloriously lucid. Lots of space, with swatches, size info, packaging details all laid out in a startlingly simple and effective manner. After trying to decipher some of the tech-info in other 'collections' this season, it is a real breath of fresh air to encounter something so bloody straightforward.
And what's this? A 'How to lay block paving' section? These used to be a feature of almost every brochure but have become increasingly rare over the last few years. It's good to see one again! OK, it's not possible to give full detail on a single page, even a page as big as this, but what they do provide is well considered and reasonably well-written.
And there we have it. It's just a shame that there are only 32 pages, because I would relish as much again. It's a ray of sunshine in amongst a 'collection' of fairly mediocre brochures this season. Formpave would be the first to admit that they don't have a massive product range to cram into a limited number of pages, but this brochure is wonderful example of what can be done to show off paving to its best. Some of the photies are amongst the best I've seen in the last 12 months and the overall feel and tone of the whole thing is just right.
What may not be obvious is that there is a more to the Formpave range than revealed in this brochure. They have products better suited to commercial projects (Thermapave, Aquapave ML, etc) which have been omitted and I can only assume they will be featured in a separate commercial brochure…ooops… Collection! I can see the sense in creating separate publications for the two markets: many of the other manufacturers use a similar strategy, and it's good to see Formpave make a more concerted push for the patio and driveway market.
It's not always easy to source Formpave paving, but it's worth seeking out for those special projects, and I'd heartily recommend this brochure to anyone with an interest in good paving or good marketing. It's a real joy to behold! Annoyingly, I can't see a link on the website to download a PDF version, so all I can suggest is that, if you want a copy and there's no Formpave stockist close by, Email Them and tell them Tony sent you!