When I started developing the Expandable Sketchbook it was meant as a fun personal design exercise that was an outlet for my passion for sketchbooks and design. What I did not expect was the out pouring of voices of support! I think I might have uncovered an unmet niche that Design could make a difference in the lives of people, in this case, people using sketchbooks. On that note I would like to thank all my loyal and passionate friends that supported this entrepreneurial effort by either purchasing the Expandable Sketchbooks and/or giving me detailed feedback on how I can design it better.
During the 2 week pre-order sale, I manage to sell just under 60 sketchbooks and a bunch more after that. At first I was a little disheartened as I did have a minimum order quantity of a 1000 sketchbooks to clear. But after speaking to a few internet entrepreneurs, the number of sketchbooks that I sold was not too bad for a first go. So all in all, I became quite encouraged by this small start.
I also realized that, if I was going to go through all this effort (and it was a lot!) to market the Expandable Sketchbook both online and off, it would make more sense to introduce, not just 1 product, but a range of sketchbook products. In other words, I could take advantage of economies of scale to market a brand or an entire range instead. Furthermore, if I can take a page out of my product development experience, a product range offers multiple propositions that retailers will find more interesting and less risk in carrying your products.
So without further adieu, I like to introduce two new members in the Spaces for Ideas family! There is actually a 3rd design but I will keep mum on it for the time being as the proposition is not quite there. Plus it is not really a sketchbook. The first addition to the family is an accordion type fold sketchbook that expands the Spaces for Ideas range, this time bringing the expandability concept into another direction (literally). The second addition is code name the “Spaces for Exploration Sketchbook” for the time being. It is an A6 square format 100 page sketchbook made with 65gsm tracing paper. More details to follow below.
Spaces for Ideas: Accordion Fold Sketchbook
The Spaces for Ideas Accordion Fold Sketchbook was inspired by traditional Japanese fold sketchbooks that are quite popular in Artist circles. This 40 page (20 panels front and back) sketchbook allows for 2.1 (or 4.2) meter long space for uninterrupted creation! The pages all folds back into a nice tight pocket-able package. The images you see above and below are very rough prototype mock ups I created for sizing comparisons and usability studies. So, please note they are not the final designs, color or material!
As you can see the size of the Accordion Sketchbook is close to the Expandable Sketchbook’s A6 body, but minus the thickness of the spine.
This mock up is different to the actual product as it only has 12 panels. The final design is likely to be double in thickness to the mock-up as it uses 140gsm paper made from recycled FSC certified pulp.
What I like about this design, was my exploration of the rounded corners within the folded sheets. This allows for a nice gap for your finger as well as a unique looking pattern on top of the Sketchbook’s folded and unfolded pages. Inspired by origami elements, I wanted to create a detail that was both whimsical and memorable.
Spaces for Exploration: Tracing Paper Sketchbook
I unfortunately don’t have pictures for this mock up yet as it was more of a Lego type design process of pulling different elements together to create this proposition. This book was inspired by the way animation designers and old school Creatives work. This solution was also developed from a discussion with a friend, who suggested that I create a sketchbook for Architects by using thin rice paper. After doing some user research, testing, bouncing the ideas with entertainment designer Feng Zhu and twittering with sketch guru and Creative Director at Frog Design Michael Ditullo, I developed and refined the designed with a 65gsm recycled tracing paper that has a really nice texture for drawing.
Further my brief description earlier, this sketchbook was designed as a very portable 145mm x 145mm geometrical square that allows you to orientate and use the book to how you see fit. For example you can use it in an animation style by starting from the back of the book and working towards the front of the book. Or if you are left handed like me, I like to open the book reporter style with the cover flipped up to the top and out of my way. Finally this sketchbook will be stitch bound as it allows the sketchbook to open flat (no spines in the way) for your drawing pleasure.
The prototypes for both books, in actual materials, are currently being constructed, so do stay tuned for an update in approximately 2 weeks time. I can’t go into too much details at the moment, but the cost of the two books will likely be lower than the expandable sketchbook. I had to work and push really hard to keep the costs down as the cost of raw paper has gone up in recent months and, strangely, recycled paper costs more than virgin pulp. At the end of the day, I’m pretty happy with the costing as it allows me to fill out my sketchbook range by offering other propositions at different price points.
So what do you think my friends? Worthy additions to the Spaces for Ideas family? I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the propositions. A big thanks in advance!
Brian is the Founder and Design Director at Design Sojourn, a Design Led Innovation Consultancy. He is a multi-award winning design leader, and specialises in strategic design and innovation programs that drive successful organisations. Brian’s 20-year career in design, driven through a deep understanding of human behavior, spans over multiple domains such as consumer electronics, government, healthcare, non-profit agencies, hospitality, F&B, retail, online solutions and best in class service experiences.