Folding Style: Wrapped (Centered) Stepped Accordion
Subcategory: Stepped Accordions
Level: Intermediate
Uses: Marketing Promotion, Product information, Guides/Manuals, Events

Got a lot of information to organize? Looking for a creative way to hide and reveal imagery? The Wrapped Stepped Accordion features a solid front and back cover, with steps on the interior that taper left and right in a zig-zag Accordion design. Interestingly (at least to me – ha!), the Wrapped Stepped Accordion lives within the Stepped Accordion category, and there are even variations within the Wrapped Stepped Accordion subcategory as well. I’m going to show you 3 versions of the Wrapped Centered Step configuration, as well as one Wrapped Flush configuration where the steps are all situated on one side.

Wrapped Stepped Accordions are outstanding for mail, because you get the extra protection of a cover and closed edge for self-mailing or envelope insertion. It’s also nice because the format hides its steps, offering a full cover, versus some other variations where the steps are part of that initial view when closed. Personally, I like both scenarios for different reasons—and it all depends upon the project, if it’s mailing or not, and what you determine is the best way to communicate your message. Here’s what the fold placement for the Wrapped Centered Stepped Accordion looks like:

What I really like about the samples I’m going to share is that one of them is using the steps for visual texture only, and the others are using the steps to organize information. Although the steps can be a practical element, it’s great to see that they can also be frivolous and fun.

The Wrapped Stepped Accordion 4 Ways

The Wrapped Stepped Accordion, although intuitive, can be a bit disorienting when the stepped format is envisioned flat. So, you’ll want to make a mini mock-up and fold it down to get your bearings. However, once you know where your art needs to be placed, it’s a very satisfying and stylish format to work with. Below, you’ll find four great examples of the Wrapped Stepped Accordion in use.

For Self-Promotion:

Sample: Andrew King / Andrew King Art for The Green Room Collaborative

This gorgeous design is for landscape Architecture firm The Green Room Collaborative. Designer Andrew King used the steps as a way to create contrast between the lush, saturated images of the company’s designs. I love that he uses angled white breaks between the images, rather than following with a more traditional layout where rectangular images break in expected places at the folds. His images wrap around the folds, ignoring them, which is really refreshing. A team photo as an interior focal point, sophisticated typography and a sensory paper experience completes the brochure. This piece was printed 4-color digital on 80 lb Matte Coated Cover with soft touch lamination.

For Recruitment:

Sample: Sori Apfelbaum of Focal Point Graphics for Normandy Insurance Company

It’s challenging to be highly creative when you’re working with insurance-related content, but designer Sori Apfelbaum was up to the task. She designed this clean and bright Insurance Agent recruitment brochure for Normandy Insurance Company, using an expanded palette of their corporate colors plus a few bright accent colors to define the steps and break the content into categories. Each section carries a compelling statement with supportive text and imagery. It’s intuitively organized, easy to read, and pretty darned convincing! The sample was printed 4-color digital on 80 lb Uncoated Cover stock.

For Visitor Guides:

Sample: Fredericks & Mae

This visitors’ guide to New York City from Brooklyn design studio Fredericks & Mae is filled with personality. In fact, it’s a city guide without a map—you see, they are offering the insider’s opinionated, personal, and incomplete guide to the city. It starts with a dramatic full-bleed crop of the Statue of Liberty on the cover, which I love. When opened, shades of purple fade into blues and greens for the steps, which break into major tourism categories. It’s written as if your good friend was sending you an off-the-cuff list of recommendations for visiting NYC. They deliberately skip over the obvious “headline” tourist stops, instead focusing on their favorite hidden gems of the city. It’s a brilliant use of format and a great read. The sample was printed 4-color digital on 80 lb Uncoated Cover stock.

For Reference Material:

Sample: Hathaway Brown

So, the previous three samples have the Centered step configuration – now let’s look at a Wrapped Stepped Accordion with a Flush step configuration. This design was for the Hathaway Brown K–12 Early Childhood Education program, and the purpose of the piece was to provide detailed curriculum information for all grades in one organized resource. Each grade’s information is stepped and color coded in an oversized, vertical layout orientation. It is very clear what content is associated with which grade, and the stepped design makes what would have been a pretty boring stitched booklet into a stylish and easy to use resource instead. This sample was printed 4/4 on 80 lb Uncoated Cover stock.

Love it? Make Your Own Wrapped Stepped Accordion Fold

So, now that you’ve seen four creative ways to use this fold, would you like to try designing one for yourself? Good! Design and print your own Wrapped Stepped Accordion here—you can download the template for free and get instant pricing, too.