Friday, June 8, 2012

Attention to Detail!

Writing recently with a Lamy Swift Rollerball Pen, something occurred to me which has occurred to all of us many times in the past but which I nevertheless feel is worth especial mention every now and then: It's the little things that count!

The little thing in this instance was the cleverly designed clip of the Lamy Swift. You can click through to read our Lamy Swift review and if you do so, you'll read some relatively unrestrained praise of a beautiful rollerball pen. Yet for all of its sumptuous aesthetic, weighty feel, perfect balance and lovely, bold ink formula, the thing that gets me going back to this pen is that clip. It's simple enough, right? The clip hides itself inside the body of the pen, like a petrified turtle, when you're writing. Why? So you can't clip it to your pocket with an exposed tip!

I love this. It means you don't get ink on your clothes or inside your bag and it means you don't run the risk of the tip drying out. But more than those practical benefits, i love the idea that designer Wolfgang Fabian took the time to be so gosh-darn considerate about things! I've never met Wolfgang, but i'm sure he's the kind of guy who still gets out of his car in a hurry to rush around and open the passenger door for his wife...of course he doesn't have to, but that's the thing with attention to detail, it leaves perfunctoriness in its wake!

Now let's say you don't design pens and maybe you're single...don't despair! There are still plenty of ways to exercise attention to detail and today I have my eye on one. Paperclips! That's right, paperclips! I remember receiving a card from a friend and fellow pen enthusiast a while ago and the reason i remember it is not that it was written with a Parker 51 using a personal, self-made blend of ink, but that there was a small note attached with the coolest paper clip i'd ever seen. I wrote back, seemingly, I'm sure, indifferent to any personal communication, just desperate to learn more about that paperclip!

This is what i mean about going beyond a perfunctory action and this is why whizbang technology actually isn't all that's already whizbang! It can only ever be whizbang! What the heck even is whizbang?!

But humble things done well, now that is impressive. Where you have a choice between something thoughtful and an expression of disinterest and you make the right choice, now that is cool! That old cliche that somebody can only prove themselves to be trustworthy when given the  opportunity to deceive applies to thoughtfulness too and we all get that chance, everyday pretty much, with things like clips, pins, notes and the format we choose for our dispatches.

But a cool paperclip will do more for you than simple brownie points. Let's consider the following scenario. A man in a grey suit, in a grey office, affixes a conventional wire paperclip to a document (probably a FINAL WARNING MUST PAY! notice) and hands it to his colleague, similarly attired, who proceeds to file the document by muscle memory, without so much as a hello, thanks or 'What time's lunch?'

Now what if, and call me crazy, Mr Grey was to hold his documents together, not with a paperclip, but with a Fermagli Gigante!? Let's make it a pink one. Mr Filer would almost certainly put down his ENTERED stamp and ask 'Mr Grey, where is this from?' Mr Grey would say 'Oh, it's just a fermagli gigante...i have hundreds of them on my desk in a little yourself!'

Try it! Be as stereotypically Luigi as you can and say Barrotollo di Fermagli Gigante! You're smiling, aren't you? Your neighbour, he's smiling too, right? Maybe giggling. With the release of endorphins that comes from such rewarding contact, such aesthetic pleasures, productivity can only go up! If we were to return to Final Notice Inc. in a fortnight, I'm sure that red ink would be substituted for the happy black of financial viability! Mr Grey and Mr Filer enjoying a daily espresso and brainstorming a new paradigm for their industry!

And if not, if maybe it takes more than a paperclip and a fortnight to build a business empire from the brink of bankruptcy, well at least there would have been a ray of sunshine piercing through the hazy grey of a workplace shrouded in the overcast conditions of its own perfunctoriness. And if you're Mr Grey, then at least you can say 'Not me! I'm actually paying attention to the details!'

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Leather Satchel or...

On a recent trip through the CBD, somewhere along Bourke st, I passed a somewhat incongruously placed footy fan wearing his beloved Tigers jumper. I know Melbourne is pretty footy-mad in May but you don't expect such sights at 9:30 on a Tuesday morning. Anyway, as I passed I overheard the answer to what must be a question he is surely used to answering by now as he said 'You gotta wear your heart on your sleeve...'

Though tempted to stop and point out that his 'jumper' is sleeveless so he might need to re-think his phrasing, I passed by without giving the comment too much of my attention. But it eventually came back to my mind as I sat on the train heading back out to our HQ in Yarraville. Ever interested in etymology I couldn't help but wonder what he meant by heart. There are a few ways to think about the word so I wrote them down.

There is that pop culture ♥ icon, normally followed by 'NY' and about a million other uses. The anatomical heart, an ugly lump of myocardium with its own electrical current or the physiological heart...a way of saying that the function is distinct from the form.

It is this last one that I like most. The first is misleadingly simple and a little diluted nowadays. The second is ugly and problematic. But the third? It's full of wonderful metaphor! It keeps us alive, humbly, tirelessly and reliably. So much so that you probably don't think about it...I know I don't. But there it is in the background, taken for granted but unwaveringly delivering what we need where we need it, right on time!

Content with my scribbled monologue, I put the Delfonics Rollbahn back in my satchel and pulled out something to read - The Space Race. How thankful I was to have a distraction from the rattling train, the industrial west's not so scenic scenery and the train's PA system that tells you it's Flinders st when you're in South Kensington.

It was here, just before finding my bookmark, that I realised - wait a minute! This satchel, this lump of stitched leather that I'd never really given any thought to, was actually keeping me alive in its own way! Nothing physical, of course, but still ever so important, delivering what I need where I need it, right on time! Where the cells need oxygen, the mind needs something to do, something to challenge itself, to broaden its horizons.

I looked at it again. Opened it. Closed it. Felt the shoulder strap. I probably had the same expression on my face that the proto-humans of 100 thousand years ago had when it finally clicked that 'it's not just a rock, dummy! It's a tool!'

So here was my satchel, here is my satchel, here forever will be my satchel, like a heart strung over my shoulder! Keeping me alive and happy, healthy, and properly functioning. Without it, there is no notebook, no pens, no observing and making sense of the world. There is nothing to read, no exploration, self-improvement or broadening of my horizons. There is no iPhone, no iPad, no laptop and no quick finish to that thing at work. There is no expression of myself, just a diminished representation to the world around me. This satchel is my heart...lucky I've got a good one!

It's tempting here to say 'And I love it!' but I'm sticking to my guns. Nobody really loves their physiological heart, the relationship goes beyond the jurisdiction of love. It's one of need. I need it, I rely on it, I would be kind of lost without it!

Maybe that is what the Tigers fan meant on Bourke St. Maybe he was just repeating something he'd heard many times before. This is no repeat. Appropriation, perhaps, but it comes from thought and is confirmed by feeling. This satchel is my heart, it keeps more than just a tiny part of me alive, and I need it. I wear my heart on my shoulder!

Click through to check out the rest of the NoteMaker team's Work Bags and what we carry inside everyday! Show us what's in your bag and win a new one! The coolest heart transplant of all times! (Please note: Competition now closed.)