Notebook

on Design  

I’ve always been a bit of a stationery nerd – I still have a collection of unused notebooks and sketchbooks, waiting for ‘something special’ to fill them in. As a quiet and bookish kid, the present I was given most often was a diary, complete with little lock and key (which you could easily break open with a hairpin or hard knock). I don’t think I filled any of those diaries, and probably didn’t touch some of them at all.

These days I’ve stopped collecting different novelty notebooks and stay relatively true to a single kind that works for me. Even in this digital world, I think there’s a lot of value to physically hand writing plans, ideas and problems to solve the old fashioned way (and there is evidence to suggest that it can help with memory and grasping concepts). As a designer, about a third of my notebooks are filled with sketches, wireframes and diagrams which are less convenient to do in digital form. I’ve taken to carrying my notebook and a pen or pencil with me everywhere I go, in case a sudden idea or unexpected opportunity to write down something I’ve been mulling over arrives. I even managed to deboss ‘sketches & ideas 2014’ on the cover with a hot foil stamping machine in my letterpress class, which further makes it more special than any digital notes.

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I was a dedicated Moleskine fan for a few years, with a collection of filled medium red notebooks sitting on my shelf, but since falling into the world of calligraphy and fountain pens have made the switch to Rhodia. This French brand uses Clairfontaine paper intended for use with fountain pens, so works beautifully for calligraphy as well (Moleskine by contrast bleeds horribly with even a slightly inky pen). I’m also a complete convert to the dot grid as opposed to lines, grids or plain paper – I find it gives just the right amount of guidance for both sketches and for writing, although the latter was a little cramped until I adjusted the size of my writing to suit. The dots practically invite you to use the spaces in between, rather the rigid tyranny of lines or grids, or the completely unguided plain paper. I have a larger Rhodia dot grid sketchpad which I use for all my calligraphy and lettering practice and planning.

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I’m curious – do you use a paper notebook, or have you switched to a digital alternative? Is there a particular brand which you feel committed to?

P.S. Apologies for the extended absence – I’ve had a flareup of an old injury, something which usually subsides within a day or two but this time has managed to just keep getting progressively worse over the past three weeks. At this point the best I can manage is to get through the work day (or not, as the case was today) and then collapse, completely spent, at home immediately afterwards. Dealing with near-constant pain is both physically and mentally exhausting, mainly as every action needs to be strategised so it can be executed with as little pain as possible. I was going to write a full post on this, but decided that I don’t really want to invite sympathy or (sometimes worse) well-intended advice. I’m doing the best I can, but expect blog posts to be a little less frequent for a little while longer.

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