November 14, 2007

Obsession of the moment:

Moleskine City

Of all the interesting mid-sized creative companies out there right now, few I think have done as good a job at painting a delicate and complex portrait of itself to the public than the makers of the Moleskine blank paper notebook. Originally a small family-run operation in Italy, their extra-strong covers and beautiful minimalism made them an object of fetish for now-famous artists as Hemingway, Picasso and more; when the company was started back up in the last decade by a now much larger corporate group, they wisely realized that the objects themselves and their fabled romantic history would sell Moleskine better than any modern marketing campaign they could come up with. (And of course its accidental embrace by the massive Getting Things Done time-management cult/community hasn't hurt things either.) And that's why as part of their marketing efforts, the makers of Moleskine sponsor such things as gallery displays of artwork found in their notebooks, and even an entire blog called Moleskinerie that features nothing but artistic and cool things their customers are doing with their own notebooks.

For those who don't know, then, these ideas have all come crashing together recently with the introduction of Moleskine's City Notebooks; currently being produced for roughly a dozen cities now (the usual suspects -- London, New York, Berlin, Paris, etc), the notebooks combine all the most necessary items of a traditional travel book (maps, subway guides, sections for restaurants and clubs and the like), but with most of the space dedicated to simple blank pages, or at least blank spots in most of these pre-designed sections of the notebook. The way Moleskine sells this to the public, then, is as the "travelbook you yourself write, while on the trip;" it ingeniously takes advantage of the modern young traveler's desire these days to document and scrapbook their own outings, in a form that also provides practical help on the trip itself, in a size that makes it ultra-convenient for lugging around Europe on the inside of a rucksack or fanny pack.

As with usual with the Moleskine makers, their main website for the City Notebook collection is a treasure trove of interesting and practical information, on top of the usual eCommerce destination; it contains not only detailed information about each notebook for sale, but also a daily blog about interesting travel and urban information (think similar to the various Time Out blogs that are out there), plus a series of exclusive interviews concerning travel with a series of famous artists, plus special features on how customers are putting their own city notebooks to innovative use. I'm not affiliated with Moleskine in any way, but am definitely a big fan; just thought I'd point out this latest interesting addition to the always fascinating set of projects they sponsor.

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:09 AM, November 14, 2007. Filed under: Design | Profiles |