Spaces for Ideas: Prototypes Round 2

It has been far too long since I have written an update on this project. I have been so caught up in setting up and running Design Sojourn Consulting that my own produced (brand managed) products got neglected.
About 2 weeks ago I suddenly realized, with much frustration, that I have missed the window to get my products into the retail shops for Christmas. Fortunately I still have a chance for some holiday season sales with my online store. So despite a delay it’s still full steam ahead. I should have the final prototypes in a week, but meanwhile here is an update of the product development.
Before you check out the images in this update, do have a look at the first two posts for more background information on the second Spaces for Ideas Collection.
1) Spaces for Ideas: New Additions to the Family
2) Spaces for Ideas: The New Prototypes are In!

Story Book

I’ve actually spent more time with the Story Book that the Iteration Book (below). In fact, the Design had gone through another round of prototypes since I introduced them to you in the last blog post. You would probably recognized the Exhibit A as the first prototype end-to-end accordion sketchbook with the thumb gap.
As concluded in the last blog post, the thumb gap with the square corners created a possibility of bended edges on the cover, therefore that design iteration was a failure. I relooked at the product and redesigned it to what you see in the photo as Exhibit B. In Exhibit B the covers are linked as a normal book would instead of the original Exhibit A where the chipboard covers are stuck end to end of the accordion pages.

However, as I wanted 4 rounded corners (and the cool “v” detail on the accordion pages), I asked the bookmaker to try punching the rounded edges on the spine. As the rounding is a shearing process, and this prototype is 30 pages x 140gsm thick, it does not cut the round edge clean and actually tears the paper. Ideally I would have to die cut each individual page as well as the cover, but with such a long parchment it would have been a really expensive process.

The next prototype, Exhibit C, kept the spine intact but only rounded the outer edges. I actually like how tight and finished the spine now looks but did not really like having every other page with a rounded corner or “v” detail.

Even without the spine getting in the way, the rounding tool still does not do a good job cutting corners on a book this thick. As you can see from the detail, the pages look bent and tortured. I decided that the final prototype was to be a tight square corner. A good thing anyway as it works with the design language setup by the Expandable Sketchbook design.

Check out the details on the inside! Unlike the Expandable Book, the insides are lined with the Sketch paper. (100% recyclable). I personally like how the crisp joint detail between the two covers turned out, simple yet elegant. Furthermore, unlike competing accordion fold products, I designed the paper stack to sit on the cover and unfold out towards you and in any direction you like. This gives you plenty of space to develop your ideas or build a concept sketch “life-stream” which makes the name Story Book pretty apt don’t you think?
Finally I plan to increase the sketch paper’s weight to 170gsm (from 140gsm). The paper is now a little thicker, but not as thick as card. The heavier paper gives the accordion a studier structure that prevents accidental dog eared pages as well as an overall better writing experience.

Iteration Book

Strangely I though this would be a pretty straightforward design. However after studying the prototypes, something nagged at me but I could not quite figure out. So I decided to let it sit for a bit.
I have put my 148x148mm square book design (left) with an A5 sized book (right) for comparison. As I mentioned in the previous post, I went with a square format as it allows you to use the book in any way you want. Open left to right, right to left, top down or up, it is all up to you.

One issue I had to consider is that the open stitch bound detail you see in the picture (above) is not the best binding technique with tracing paper as the multiple holes may tear the tracing paper through prolong use. Therefore the final prototype will be stacked with single thread sewn along the spine. It will look similar to the saddle stitched A5 sketchbook sitting below my design.
The Iteration Book has 50 pages or smooth white 65gsm (environmentally friendly) tracing paper. It is the whitest finely textured tracing paper I can find and should not mess up your colors like traditional yellow tracing paper would.

After talking to a few designer friends, I finally figured out what was troubling me with this current prototype. The brown craft paper chipboard cover did not compliment the translucency of the tracing paper as well as being consistent with the spirit of the design. So I set out to find the thickest tracing paper I could find! Initially I was a little worried that this design might be killed if I could not find an appropriate material. I was even considering using sheets of polypropylene (PP), but binding that would be very tough. Luckily I manage to find a 230gsm parchment that worked beautifully (see above). What is really cool is after you fill up this Iteration Book, if you then hold it up into the light you could possibly see the shadows of your concepts right through the cover!

I’ve intentionally kept the Elastic Bookmark out of the picture for the time being so that I can keep the discussion as simple as possible. So which Sketchbook would you consider buying? Would you even consider purchasing both? How would you plan to use these sketchbooks if you bought them? I would love to hear your feedback on these two designs, as it will help me improve them. Finally as I am self-funding the project (unlike the lucky people on Kickstarter), your feedback would help me mitigate my risks as much as possible. Looking forward to hearing from you soon and thank you in advance.

  • jeff

    December 2, 2010 at 12:44 am Reply

    i’m most drawn (pun intended) towards the A5 iteration book. i’d use it in landscape. i love using trace and have never found a notebook of it i like. How does this “fine white” tracing paper feel under your pencil when there are 50 pages stacked up? some trace gets to fluffy and feels too soft under my pencil when its in a notebook.

  • Design Translator

    December 2, 2010 at 11:06 pm Reply

    @jeff: Thanks for the great feedback! I did a sketch (below) and it feels pretty solid on 50 pages. Actually pencil feels awesome on the tracing paper! The 65gsm tracing paper that I have specified is light enough to see through, but still sturdy enough not to shift when writing on it. I’ll see if I can get the budget to work with an A5 solution…

    Click on the image to see a bigger size!

  • jeff

    December 3, 2010 at 2:13 am Reply

    Great! I dig the idea of the heavy parchment cover too.

  • Tyler

    December 14, 2010 at 9:12 am Reply

    I used to carry around a small to medium sizedish moleskine knock off for notes and ideas and sketches. Woke up one day and found that the dog had spent a decent part of the night gnawing on the top corner (spine side), it was nasty so I cut the corner off at a 45 degree angle to the spine, a friend of mine who a basement bindery and he used his sheet cutter to cut it even. Not that it really applied here but it was cool because I could use scraps of paper in that corner to mark places or put ticket stubs without them hanging out of the book, also it made it easier to fit into a pocket or a tight sleeve. Just something cool. Awesome notebooks by the way

  • […] made from new materials. Check out the photos of rough prototypes below! The Iteration Book, introduced last time, is on hold and may be launched as part of Collection […]

  • Roberto Borges, Brazil

    June 15, 2011 at 9:21 am Reply

    Nice prototypes. I found this page when I was looking for away to cut rounded corners. You said you tried it on the C. I would like to do rounded corbers like this:
    Any idea? A tool, machine or something?
    Thank you in advance.

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