Friday, October 28, 2011

2012 Moleskine Diaries are Back!

A very quick post to end the week with good news - 2012 Moleskine Diaries are finally back in stock! We have all been really amazed at how popular they have been already, with 2012 still two months way! A nice spot of vindication, perhaps, for those of us who have never doubted the preeminence of paper planning! Be quick!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just Landed: Rifle Paper Co

Just Landed: the amazing, highly sought after Rifle Paper Co! Cards, Invitations & Prints designed, made and almost invariably brought back from a holiday in the U S of A, Rifle Paper is made by a small team in an idyllic studio in Winter Park, Florida.

There is something warm and sunny about Rifle Paper too, a real joie de vivre in the designs. Rifle cards are generally thought of as having this nostalgic vibe to them, something whimsical or carefree.

Now i tend to steer clear of describing things as nostalgic. To me, the adjective has been associated too often with derivative or perfunctory work. Rifle paper definitely can't be described as derivative, but there is something that reminds me of an awesome children's book going on here.

The animals and circus theme is really cute but i think the Botanical theme is where Rifle's quality really comes through. See, here is the thing that makes stationery fans swoon in the presence of a rifle card - they're so real!

They are original, hand drawn designs but the way they are translated onto a printed card, thanks to the paper stock and care taken in printing, is so vivid. More than any other card I've really seen, these are alive. And it is actually quite engaging.

Anna Bond (creator) believes that stories and memories are best told, at least where the tyranny of distance gets in the way, through a hand written note. And this combination of design and production quality that brings these cards to life ensures that your message is being told by a capable anecdotalist...the recipient will be paying attention.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Just Landed: Anything Design!

We've always had a thing for Japan and Japanese Stationery but this last week and a half has gotten to be ridiculous! First, there was new Delfonics and Delfonics 2012 diaries. Then we received Pantone Markers, perhaps not immediately identifiable as Japanese but made in that country of stationery excellence. And now, good reader, we have Anything Design.

Anything Design is the product of designer Michael Sodeau (London, England) and manufacturer Suikosha (Osaka, Japan) - a great collaboration of experts sticking to their expertise.

Sodeau's guiding principle for designing the collection wasn't anything earth shattering. He believes that each item has its own place and autonomy but if you consider those places in the perspective of the whole, you will reach an amelioration of function. He saw the forest and the trees quite clearly when it came to desk accessories.

But that he actually saw it is the key! He acted on it in his design and consequently, there are small but considerable functional improvements. We end up with this desktop harmony that makes you happy to be at your computer.

Everything is the same size, the same orientation, the same height, the same non-slip bases. Aesthetically, the whole is beautiful and creates this sense of order. Of calm.

Suikosha's mission was not so much to see the forest. Or perhaps even the trees. They were looking for the leaves, or maybe even the bugs on the leaves...I guess i'm saying that every detail has been scrutinised and realised with precision. The materials used are really good, this stuff has weight and substance - the tape dispenser in particular really is the business!

We had one of those moments when photographing this. I think it involved a black stapler, a black alarm clock and an MMMG Ping Pong calendar. We set it up to photograph - knowing what we were doing - and then all three of us stopped. It was arresting, indeed kind of can that look so nice? I think over the next 10 seconds the three of us managed two and a half 'wow's before we came back to reality, looked at our now forever ruined desks and sighed our way back to work.

Any time desk accessories can do this, you kind of know you're in the presence of greatness.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Just Landed: 2012 Delfonics Diaries

It's October (already!?) and that can only mean one thing to design stationery devotees - a new Delfonics Diary! Dated from October 2011-December 2012 and perhaps, possibly, probably the best diary range in the world.

I feel like I can say that with some qualification. See, for over 260 days a year, I get to be immersed in design stationery, surrounded by it, and like everyone I have my favourites. But every October when i see that Delfonics Diary range I just can't help but be impressed by how absolutely, consummately perfect it is.

To try and describe it in words will only really lead to hyperbole and probably some overly poetic animism. I may even end up singing with a lute beneath a Delfonics Etoffe Diary's balcony, rose betwixt my teeth, so I'll go easy on the description.

Suffice to say, they are so thoroughly considered in their design and so faultlessly realised in their production that their utility knows no bounds. The paper passes a fountain pen test, the formats make sure you're keeping everything on track and the extra sections keep you covered.

Aesthetically, their preeminence is clear and creates a sense of preciousness, even of companionship...see, it's hard to hold one for a while and not start getting all sentimental about it.

But back to Delfonics and the yearly realisation that this could just about be the best stationery brand in the world. It's hard to, but forget the diaries for a sec and consider the whole of Delfonics.

It's such a concise collection, so harmonious in its parts. Everything comes together so well and insists on personal expression, that extension of yourself that we all love stationery for. Whether this is from utility (and an intellectual extension of self) or from aesthetics (an extension of personal taste and style), it is always there.

And it really is personal. The variety of colours in each line and the way that they are designed to come together, the sum always greater than the parts, permits this wonderful individual style, a product range perfectly malleable to each person's tastes.

And of course there is that Delfonics Rollbahn Notebook. I won't hesitate here - the Extra Large notebook is my vote for the world's best notebook. I'm not using one right now, it may be weeks before i pick one up again, but as an all-rounder, if I am asked to choose only one notebook which i would have to use every day, forever more, then I am taking this. And not thinking twice about it.

And the reasons why are the same reasons that i have this annual epiphany that Delfonics is outrageously close to perfection in everything they do. And the moment that brings this to the very front of my brain is the moment we start unpacking boxes of Delfonics Diaries.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Landed: O-Check Design Graphics!

Just Landed from O-Check Design Graphics, a big friendly bunch of warm personal stationery! And I really mean personal, O-Check's designers just have this incredible skill for creating things which we end up holding dear.

A lot of stationery can be ephemeral. Maybe you only need it to do your work, or maybe you just use it like a partner in your brainstorming to be discarded once you've settled on the way forward. Maybe it just lacks something genuine in its design, a cute fling instead of something more serious.

None of this can be said of O-Check's work. Whether it is the feel of that book linen cover or the smile you get from looking at an Owl or handsome little squirrel, these books invariably end up as permanent parts of your book shelves, your own library. So calming, creating an inviolable mood of harmony for the happy beholder.

And to return to the first paragraph, I really do mean warm too. There's so much optimism throughout. The new undated daily diaries have each page titled 'A Special Day For..." and let you pick up from there.

The red one is a favourite of mine, it's nice and small, though being for Jour Apres Jour it is quite chunky. Anyway, it strikes me as really precious when blank...a little wear and tear and character that comes with use can only endear it further.

I think another reason why O-Check has such enduring charm is the inherent poetry in its design. The use of French and also just generally poetic phrasing throughout the whole range is nice but there is metaphor in the imagery too.

I really like the Love pop up card for this...the black and white background against (or perhaps beyond) which is set these big bright pink flamingoes, like a beacon.

As you can tell, I quite like when we get a delivery from O-Check!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Just Landed: Mi Goals 2012

Quite possibly the Rookie of the Year in 2011, the Mi Goals Diary is back for its Sophomore outing and is completely free of the dreaded second album syndrome! Mi Goals was incredibly well received last year and quickly developed a loyal, thankful following.

If you missed the 2011 edition, the Mi Goals Diary is Designed and Made in Melbourne, just over the West Gate bridge from us in fact. It is a 'Goals' diary in that it has a conventional Weekly Diary section which is wrapped up and interwoven with formatted sections for setting, sticking to and achieving goals.

It has all the regular trimmings like yearly planning, notes, page markers and budget sections. In fact the budget section is quite in depth and in itself an important part of the goal theme.

Being Made in Melbourne means you get really nice quality. The cover is debossed and the monochrome design is really well rendered on lovely stock. Stitch binding keeps it all together and does the typography and design inside proud.

A lot of people who used the Mi Goals in 2011 or thought about using commented that they love the idea and they need something to keep that watchful eye over them to make sure they're on top of things. Thus was spawned the Mi Goals Stationery range!

The notebooks are A5 size with rounded corners, the same style and again, the same awesome quality. So robust, so substantial - a total winner.

In particular the Notes book which has numbered pages and a half plain (ie the left page) half ruled (ie the right page) layout.

If you're one of the many who has been searching for this layout, you too may join the long list of thankful Mi Goals fans.

All of the Mi Goals items have famous quotes throughout - the erudition of George Bernard Shaw, Charles Darwin et al there to be that paternal hand on your shoulder, making sure you're eating your vegies and doing what you said you would! Motivation for the motivated, triggers to keep you on track.

I myself did not use the 2011 Mi Goals but was struck by how much genuine feedback it received.

It's one thing to like something because it's really cute or it feels nice or for whatever reason. It's another altogether to acknowledge that it is actually helpful, has real utility, and became an important part of your day.

This is what Mi Goals users did in droves last year and what i expect a lot more people will be doing as 2012 rolls around.

Monday, October 3, 2011

All new Lamy Al-Star Colour - Ruby!!

For all lovers of pens and fine writing, this is really great news to start the week! All new from Lamy, the limited edition Lamy Al-Star Ruby is now available, sitting pretty on our shelves and even prettier in my hand.

A lot of people struggle to get their head around the Lamy Al-Star. I mean, what is the Al-Star? Isn't it just like a Safari? Well yes, it kind of is like the Safari. It's the same shape, exactly the same in fact, and so it is rich with all of those same ergonomic benefits of comfort, fatigue-free writing and extremely smooth, trustworthy mechanisms underpinning it all.

But there are a couple of really important aesthetic differences between the Al-Star and the Safari. Firstly, the Al-Star has a transparent grip section. Secondly, it is made of lightweight aluminium and so the body is a little more complex. It's kind of iridescent and it's eye-catching.

To be fair it is not as robust as the Safari but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I see the Al-Star as being the Safari's pretty sister. The Safari is like that little boy who can happily play in the mud all day long and his enthusiasm for life will not waiver. The Al-Star is more like his sister, who will run all the way home as soon as she gets so much as a drop of water on her dress.
But is that so bad? You don't need a tough, robust pen all the time. If you keep a fountain pen on your desk, then the Al-Star is an awesome choice. Safari reliability with a smoother surface, a lighter more luxurious feeling and that iridescent shine. I suppose at this point it would be remiss of me to not mention the fountain pen offer at the moment so see below.

If you're a Safari user, you're sure to love your pen. I love mine too. But sometimes, it's just nice to write with an Al-Star, like it's nice to talk to the little girl who doesn't go and get all muddy.