love and bandwidth

Moley, Moley, Moley, Moley, Moley
May 26, 2009, 3:45 pm
Filed under: books, design, objects, reviews

moleskine_pocket_plain_notebook00.jpgLet’s get it straight, the Moleskine notebook is not made from real moles [it’s just a oil-based cardboard]. Also, the act of owning and using a Moleskine does not mean you are going to be inherently more creative, though apparently it helps. For magical reasons, this design of rounded corners, elastic strap, and sewn spine has this weird gravitational pull for people in the ‘creative’ sphere. It seems now the compulsory accessory for anyone who thinks about stuff and want to capture that thinking, about stuff, on paper. This is great, that a relatively inexpensive [if you buy them online], straight-forward design can motivate people in a tribal way to carry around a little paper monster [like a tamagotchi or chatter ring] to make the creative process back to something a little more self-concious and tactile again.

Picture 9

Although the company and design has been around for yonks it seems to be exponentially more popular in the past few years. This I guess, could be put down to offering a range of designs, sizes, page layouts, paper and cover types to cater for a wide-range of users. This differentiation is distinguished by a simple and effective colour-coding system to identify use [folio, diary, planner, sketchbook etc]. As a brand, its established and strong but what really works is its simple distinctiveness. [I forgive them for using Copperplate for their logo] .


There is a tendency in the design world to fetishize these sort of objects, where one design comes to characterize a general format, whether it be the Aeron chair by Herman Miller, or to a lesser extent the Sony Bravia TV. As a small accessory though the only other accessory that I think of, of late that compares to the Moelskine in terms of dominance [without any extensive field research or surveying] is the iphone. This appendage is different though, simply because it has a higher schmuck factor. The Iphone owner seems to thrive on being able to flash it out in front of their friends or colleagues like an Olympic medal or engagement ring either  to show off the latest novelty app they downloaded or ringtone that sounds like a ‘real’ telephone. I must say I fail to sympathize yet with this fascination. The expensive price tag and limited plan options it somehow hard to justify. Some proclaim that they can’t do without it which I find hard to fathom. It’s just a fucking mobile phone with extra shit. Sorry a little digression there and to those I know who have iphones I’m not talking about you guys, you guys are alright, its just everyone else.

Ok back on track …

In recent times, i’ve yes, succumbed to the Moleskine format. My main reason is because I don’t like any of the other sketchbooks out there. They are either too big, too spiral-bound and either generally too expensive or too shit in paper quality.  The positive consequence of my recent moleage is that I have found myself drawing and writing more than anytime in the past. This of course is good [for me]; jotting and collecting for research purposes and a space to map ideas visually. I have no excuse for not doing it much more in the past and  hate to think this change is a fact of following a trend. It is strange though that this or certain relatively basic designs or formats can change necessary behaviours [for a designer say] or even create new ones. Sometimes these designs / trends add to the every increasing burden of things we do now – like twittering, texting, which we seemed to get by perfectly without some 10 years ago. But fundamentally it will always makes sense for a designer to have a sketchbook handy because, by nature, we are thinking creatures and this helps give thinking shape. I like this short article [link] by Jason Santa Maria on the merits of keeping a sketchbook. He sums it up well by saying:

Sketchbooks are not about being a good artist, they’re about being a good thinker.

Of course it doesn’t matter what sketchbook you use just as long as it works for you. There is a certain consciousness which comes with using the Moleskine though. A perculiar side-effect of this has been that it seems to motivate individuals to regale on line about how they use their moley and give tips to how others can use their mole better. This seems nuts to me. Come on they are in essence just paper. The way often these blogs suggest though is that there is something spiritual or elevating going on, that if you use your mole in certain ways that you will be in the same league of other infamous users like Ernest Heminway and Henri Matisse. Most of the shit they suggest to enhance your Mole practice is just common sense, using post-it note tabs and pasting a calender on the inside cover etc. I guess it is hardly surprising that these sites exist as every man and their dog blogs about the most inane things these days from cats wearing sweeter to funny stories about iphones. I guess Moleskine then, can have a schmuck aspect to them like an iphone, though only if you are compelled also to write lovingly about them or persuade people about best practice on something which is so fundamental.

Picture 8

Moleskine Legendary Notebooks | 13 Twitterers Share Their Moleskine Obsession | Setting Up A Moleskine | 20+ Ways to Use a Moleskine


No moles were harmed in the writing of this post.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I’m a moleskine user – they just feel so nice, like the weight of the book, the weight of the paper, the feel of the covers… grand. One of mine is used for sketching, and I have another on the go that I write recipes in (only ones that I like mind, and with all the flourishes of a ten year old decorating their assignment page because they know the content isn’t that interesting)

Comment by Luci

I am such a schmuck. It really is true. Sigh.

Comment by Luci

I’d rather be a moleskine schmuck than an iphone schmuck. I guess by nature of writing this post it automatically makes me a schmuck too

Comment by themachobox

I got a moleskin. $40. Wouldn’t have dared, except… the cost was part of the expenses for a project, so I didn’t actually hand over my money. Otherwise I think I would have stuck with the $4.99 A5 visual diary, thank you very much.

Comment by Sam Flaherty

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