Inside the Minds of Designers

Michael Graves
Its amazing that the Moleskine has manage to brand and associate themselves with the great talents of our time. Don’t get me wrong as I think this is a good thing, but I wonder if this branding aspect has been taken too far. Maybe its just me, but I find that the Moleskine brand promise to be very bi-polar. On one hand the brand makes me feel superior because by using my moleskin I can be associated with such pedigree of talents. On the other hand, it makes me feel inferior as I feel that I should only use my moleskin if I am able or about to reproduce that next design classic, otherwise I should just stay away!

Furthermore, for a sketch book to come in at such a high price point, it becomes almost too painful for me to make a mark on its pristine pages. This I find defeats the purpose of using a sketchbook in the first place as it is suppose to be a repository of quick, down and dirty ideas. The brand makes me keep on thinking that, is want I am about to write or draw something that, in years to come, people would want to see? This is probably why my moleskin still sits on my book shelf, and STILL in its wrapper. Sniff. I love this product so much but I just cant bare to use it.
I supposed at the end of the day if you end up having to be precious about your work, sketch or design, you can’t really do any good work as your mind is already restricted by these invisible barriers. Anyways do check out some of the exhibition work of people who don’t have a problem with “tearing” into their Moleskines as considering who they are, they could probably afford doing it!
Scott Henderson
Karim Rashid
Steven Guarnaccia
Source: Official Detour Moleskine Experience exhibition in New York website and here.
Via: My friends at Mocoloco

  • Dexter T

    June 25, 2007 at 1:27 am Reply

    I totally agree with the perception of value attached to a Moleskine. For the longest time, I had refused to buy an overpriced notebook for my scribbles of ideas and sketches. But then one day, I got one (I think I was inspired) and started a little journal in it. Then it became two. The other one travels with me in the bag. However, I also jot my notes and random thoughts down on my mobile phone (A pocket PC) since I type faster on it than on paper.
    Having said that, there is no other notebook I know that opens all the way and has that lovely paperly feel to it when one applies a nice ink pen on it. Yet, I sometimes feel my thoughts and ideas are almost ‘unworthy’ of the moleskine. That is the love and respect I have for it.
    Ah the joys and pains of art. Or the need to create art.
    The dilemma continues…

  • GJ

    June 21, 2007 at 1:51 pm Reply

    This whole thing about Moleskin did really struck me when i saw my friend with his Moleskin. First of all, the size of it is really handy and the square lines are in right proportion, what matters most is the act & habit of recording your thoughts. But once i see the price and i thought, “what? Am I going to pay for a blank notebook of 6 times of the normal kind? SAVE the trees!”
    Come to think of it, does it really matter to own a nice notebook, or it matters more to have a nice collection of thoughts of your very own?
    With that, I decided to dump the idea of searching a nice notebook to begin with. Instead, I start recording ideas on any piece of paper, and compile them into my very own notebook. From, Notebook = ideas to Ideas = Notebook.
    From, “u have Moleskin” to “u have great ideas”

  • Design Translator

    June 21, 2007 at 9:53 am Reply

    G.S.H you know that is the same for me! I rather buy them give them away and give a happy smile to myself! Perhaps what we should do, is set up a network, and that we each send each other a Moleskine, so that the one we receive can be treated as essentially “free” or as a gift, so we can then bare to use it? What do you guys think?
    @drew, you are classic! However, think about this, what about if this creative mind runs out of toilet paper? Hah-hah!

  • drew kora

    June 20, 2007 at 9:28 pm Reply

    Let’s roleplay: I’ll be the moleskin marketing director:
    “Yes but you see, our superior price point represents two things: 1.) The quality you as artists can rely on and need in the tools you use to accomplish your craft, and 2.) more significantly, we feel that even the most mundane doodles are of immense value to the creative mind. The monetary value attached to each remium opaque vellum-finished in our sketchbooks is a constant reminder to the artist that each stroke of their writing or drawing insturment has value and is a representative of that artist. Perhaps our perception of value will encourage artists to endeavor to perfect their craft even in the smallest of details and doodles.
    …think of it this way, we’re doing our part to make the brilliant, starving artist more starving.”

  • goodshithappens

    June 20, 2007 at 8:31 pm Reply

    haha you know what? i guess i feel like you too. I’ve always had something about owing a moleskin. I LOVE it. yet i chose smiggles instead. haha. Moleskin seems too expensive for writing things too trivial and random, and sometimes I feel I might not be able to put my moleskin to good use because I just don’t have much creative stuff to doodle! Because Moleskin IS for the creative – at least that’s what I feel. I’m not one who constantly jots down creative ideas or words. But I’ve always wanted a moleskin. it’ll be a very good birthday present i reckon. hehe.

  • Design Translator

    June 20, 2007 at 3:54 pm Reply

    Hi KK,
    Nice to hear from you, and yes I have that same issue and have stacks of A4 paper building up into a nice mountain. I should throw some out…
    Hey Drew,
    No problems you can post as many times as you want! And do scan/photograph your moleskine work and put it up at your site. Good luck in that purchase.
    Its interesting that something mundane as a notebook/sketchbook has been alleviated into a premium product, so much so its purpose has been watered down to the point of uselessness. Still as drew said its all marketing, as to this day I still lurk at book stores or stationary shops hoping for a moleskin sale. Or always pick up a moleskine open sample just to touch the cover or paper inside.
    Sad but I need to get a life!

  • drew kora

    June 20, 2007 at 2:13 am Reply

    Sorry to be posting on this topic yet a third time…but after about 6 hours, this topic has popped in and out of my head. Now I desperately want to go buy a moleskin sketchbook now. Grrrr. It’s all a big marketing thingamajig.

  • drew kora

    June 19, 2007 at 11:44 pm Reply

    Well, after looking more closely at the exhibition, I realize that those are the bigger moleskin books. Yeah those are salty. I stick to the pocket size version…and they last me many many months, too. So it’s worth it.
    For an actual sketchbook, I have a couple that I rotate: one at the office, one at home, one in my bag, one at my bedside. But they aren’t moleskin…they are mostly free sketchbooks I get from Paper companies or from Veer because I’m such a good customer. : ) If I spend a lot on a sketchbook I’m jsut like you guys…every page is carefully planned out so I don’t waste the nice book.

  • KK

    June 19, 2007 at 10:29 pm Reply

    Hi DT,
    I share the same thoughts too! Until I can be rich enough to go through 10 of these moleskins at absolutely no “feel”, I doubt I’d use them as sketchbooks for the same reason. While it does seem like moleskin’s very identity is based on being a great sketchbook, their publicity still very much suggests otherwise – for instance the curated feel of ‘famous’ moleskin books in some of their exhibition (they had one in Vivocity’s PageOne). I remember last time I did buy some very nicely bounded leather sketchbooks in Venice too – had to give it to someone else too.
    Oh well, I’d stick to my flip-side-of-the-A4-wastepaper.

  • drew kora

    June 19, 2007 at 8:03 pm Reply

    I love moleskins. I carry one with me all the time. I actually prefer the lined-paper kind as opposed to teh blank sketchbook. I use mine for my daily, weekly, monthly to-do list. Seriously, I start each day (or every other day) with a list of stuff I want to accomplish or work on that way. This helps out when I’m juggling a lot of different assignments, clients, etc…me being the entreprenuer I am. : )
    It’s not all business, though. Sketches do frequently find their way in, as do names of bands and songs or artists I stumble upon and need to jot down so I can reference them later. Half-stories and poems are plenty. The book represents my train of though over the course of a day. I’ve been thinking about scanning in my latest book and posting it on my web site for the heck of it. Maybe I should.
    You know, I’ve tried palm pilots and day planners. I currently have a samsung phone that has PALM OS and a stylus (which I never use any of…it’s just a phone for me). None of them replace a good ol’ notebook. Despite the high price, my moleskin is just a notebook. But they are tough little books, so I figure the price is worth it for something I carry around every day.

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