Spaces for Ideas: The Final Prototype!

This product has launched! Get your sketchbook at the Spaces for Ideas Store now!


iPhone and 15cm Ruler for sizing!

If you have not already, do check out the earlier posts first as they will give you a greater insight on how this design came to be.
1) Spaces for Ideas: The Beginning
2) Spaces for Ideas: The First Prototype
3) Spaces for Ideas: The Brand

So here it is, the final prototype for my Spaces for Ideas expandable sketchbook. Actually this prototype has been in my care for the last 2-3 weeks, however I had delayed releasing it to all of you as I wanted to finalize the brand and get the design protection registration going. As both are finally in place, I like to now introduce this sketchbook to all of you!

I would say this prototype is about 95% there. The only difference between this prototype and the final product are two things. Firstly the spine will be in the same material as the pages and secondly the Spaces for Ideas logo will be quietly debossed on to the front cover. The rest of it, i.e. the size and how it unfolds is accurately depicted in the images after the jump.

Edit: I’ve decided against the white spine as it looks unfinished, and debossing does not work with the logo. The logo needs to be silk-screened.


I plan to produce two versions. One is an A6 sized book (on the top) that expands into an A3 page. The other is an A5 sized book that expands into a good-sized A2 page. I will eventually produce both versions, but due to budget constraints I can only start with one. That’s where I need your help; I need to know which size resonates with you the most?


Let’s take a look in detail with the A6 version that expands into an A3 page. The A6 version sits nice and tight in my hand. Both A6 and A5 versions has 5 pages folded into a form fitting package.


I did not like the inside texture of the cover, so I’ve asked the supplier to line the inside in the same material as the page. Due to the construction, the inside lining extends and becomes part of the spine’s material as well.

There you go, expanded into its full A3 glory!


As you can see from the first page, the hump that was a problem in the previous prototype is now resolved, by reducing the total number of folded pages from 20 to 5. This also allows me to product a cheaper solution that you can buy in bulk. This creates a situation where you can dedicate each expandable sketchbook to a project.

The 2nd page expanded and unfolded, between the 1st and 3rd folded pages.

As you can see the A5 version is a little bigger, but it is still a tight 5 page (folded) package.

Here it is unfolded into its full A2 glory. This is great for creative people looking to do large mind maps, brainstorming in groups, and generally not afraid of big ideas!

So lets look at how the both sizes compare? The A5 to A2 version sits above the A6 to A3 version. I’ve brought back my iPhone and 15 cm ruler to give this comparison exercise a sense of scale.

Just in case you are interested, each sketchbook will be shipped in a sturdy and bubble padded envelope.


Right, so what do you guys think? Which one will you likely go for? I await your feedback and comments with baited breath!
The next step after this is I will finalize the production volume, costing numbers and hopefully start taking pre-orders! I hope you are as excited as I am to bring this “baby” into the world.

This product has launched! Get your sketchbook at the Spaces for Ideas Store now!

  • Sebastian

    September 15, 2010 at 11:53 am Reply

    Great idea / product!
    I think the hump may still be an issue. What about having it ring bound so that you can fold the hump out of the way? Like a book that you can completely fold double over, but with the unfolded page out.
    The hump would then be all out, to the bottom left. It may not look as nice as a closed spine, almost too industrial and standard, but maybe instead of a ring bound, your bookbinder can come up with something that allows for the same.
    Also I think origami may have some interesting solutions here. Look up the ‘Miura-Ori’ fold ( It is a way to fold a piece of paper without having it bulge up on the folds. They use it for maps. It not only makes the fold neater, but it reduces stress and preserves the paper.

  • Dean the EnjKat (Canada)

    March 28, 2010 at 12:11 pm Reply

    Hey this is a good idea… but how about one for a left-handed person? It should unfold/open the OTHER way!
    Good luck with the launch!

  • is

    March 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm Reply

    you should send a few samples to
    they’d probably post it up on their site so you can get some extra marketing and spread the word.

  • DT

    March 15, 2010 at 12:12 am Reply

    Guys! Ok the smaller one (A6) it is! Thanks for all your feedback, and stay tuned for some information on (or around) the 22 March.
    Robert and Marine: I’ll have to think about that pocket! It’s a 50/50 split haha.
    Andrea: I love it to have more pages too, but as it gets thicker it is a bit difficult to use. I’ll see if I can do it in the next batch?
    Garth: Will look at the A5 for sure. Thanks!
    Parker: Wow! Thanks for your great feedback and spending the time to share. I’ll look at the spiral again for sure as it is one of the popular suggestions. Also thanks for your marketing story, indeed, I wanted my product to celebrate ideas, and definitely should not outshine the idea or the designer/creator. I’ll be putting up some sort of reader/user sharing for sure, and build a great story. Thanks again.
    Jox: That is a great idea. I will take this into consideration, and have actually tried to see if I can get it to work. But at this time due to the number of changes already in the current product, I’ve kept it out for the time being.
    Shang Lee: Yes it should almost flip 180, but it is not an ideal way to use it. I’ve left perforations out, cos I’m afraid the perforations may weaken the joints, especially when you unfold it and fold it frequently.
    Kaushik: Yes! I also want to try to make it as cheap as I can get it, without having to commit a volume to big for me to handle.
    Jo: Haha, most people are asking for the smaller book indeed.
    Andres: Let me see if I can get some images posted when I get the final samples in.
    Ben: Thanks for your support!
    Thank you all for sharing your valuable thoughts and taking the time to leave comments. Stay tuned for an update soon!

  • Ben Crowe

    March 14, 2010 at 11:48 pm Reply

    I would probably buy the A6 version for ease of transport. I have to agree with Parker Robinson idea of making a version with spiral binding so that more pages could be added. I like the idea and I wish you the best of luck with it.

  • Andres

    March 12, 2010 at 1:06 pm Reply

    I would love to see some sketching on the unfolded page to have some idea of how the folding lines will affect the drawing.
    By the way, I love the creative and entrepreneurial exercise you have shared with us.
    Best of luck whit this project.

  • Jo Spargo

    March 4, 2010 at 10:51 pm Reply

    Hey, I’d probably buy both, then see which one got the most mileage before reordering lots of the more useful size. Both have their merits but I think the smaller book would fit nicely into my bag when I meet client for coffee and we need to sketch something out.

  • Kaushik Gopal

    March 4, 2010 at 3:53 pm Reply

    Hey DT,
    Imho, the smaller one should be produces in mass and shipped. The larger variety can be a sort of made to order. The beauty is the smaller size caters to larger requirements. My reasoning is, this is a sort of scratch pad. You don’t expect to have your “scratch designs” on pages larger than A2! but for those who strongly disagree with my opinion, you have the made to order option 😉

  • Shang Lee

    February 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm Reply

    Hey DT, just a few thoughts.
    Would it be possible for the covers (and the papers) to do a 180 back flip so that the paper being used can rest nicely on the table?
    would you consider a perforated / tear-off line so that i can tear off the piece when done? better still, is it possible for a refillable system to be put in place?

  • Jox

    February 23, 2010 at 11:56 am Reply

    I love these. I would go for the A6. However, maybe it’s just me and it might kill the concept, but I would add a couple single A6 pages at the end for some quick note-taking, small project-related to-do list.
    Just my .02$. Awesome idea, though.

  • Duylam

    February 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm Reply


  • Parker Robinson

    February 21, 2010 at 3:52 am Reply

    Okay .. I got excited …I’m sorry to add yet another thought you probably have already thought of … but just for redundancy… when you get to marketing your product, you might consider the J. Peterman strategy of story excerpts (counterfeit mailbag is a classic) that dramatize the product and draw an affinity for the product and the user through the narrative of story. Like the Google Ad you wrote about…
    From reading your blog, I think that part of the creative process for you is the feel of paper and tools.
    I think the appeal of your idea is much bigger than saving the customer the convenience of folding his own A3 or A2 sheets. You are branding and suggesting … you are telling, in fact you are Honoring, your customer with the presumption that he/she has IDEAS, big ideas, ideas that break the small white box, ideas that need space. Ideas that could change the Way Things Are … Afterall, isn’t that why we do the things we do? This is one thing electronics can’t do for us.
    Plus that way on your website you could tell multiple stories and reach out to many different users …
    Designers, Architects, Media Planners, Artists, Musicians, Entrepreneurs, VC’s, Storyboarders, Engineers (we like paper, lots of paper!) …
    Maybe your commenters and friends of your blog could contribute such stories. That would be fun to read… again, best of luck!

  • Parker Robinson

    February 21, 2010 at 3:23 am Reply

    Brian, I would buy either of these products and will when you offer them for sale. I really enjoy the positive thinking and creative energy I draw from reading your website and even though I am an electronics engineer in the IC industry, I think I do learn from you. So .. my first vote is for both. my second vote is for the smaller (A6) size.
    I personally enjoy two opposite products, that might have a bearing on your market research. (a) I use the levenger 4×6 index card holder which uses individual cards that I file in a 4×6 box (for customer, meeting note taking and brainstorming) and (b) I also use spiral sketchbooks which might be more relevant.
    I’m sure you thought of this, so forgive the redundancy, but if you offered your folded sketch pages in a spiral binding, you could rotate the page to the other side and have no “hump.” Hence more pages. In that case, I’d recommend using microperforations on the binding side to permit a clean removal for users who didn’t want to leave their sketches in the book. I actually think this would be my preference.
    Offering individual, folded sheets punched for standard planners with microperforations might offer an additional market. People who use planners love them. I never have, because I love the excitement of a white sheet of paper in front of me and the feel of a pen in my hand. No lines, No boxes, No calendars… just raw discovery… But I bet that market could be significant.
    I’ve always used a giant roll of butcher paper for drawing / brainstorming. It’s been the source of much of my best work. That’s why I was immediately drawn to your beautifully simple concept and your engaging story of the creative process which lead you to this product launch. I love entrepreneurs and its fun to see someone launch such a physically pleasing product as I think yours will be.
    Pen, ink, and spaces for ideas … how much more romantic can it get?
    best of luck!

  • Garth Morley

    February 19, 2010 at 5:50 am Reply

    Being one of your many fans who subscribe to your reqular email posts, I am going to make may vote count today. On first impulse I would have said the A5 version but on reflection the A6 folded out to A3 would be more useful per project usuage. I definitely in the future would use your A5. I always find the A5 size more practical in carrying around re sketch pads, writing notebooks and folders to meetings. Cheers.

  • robert snyder

    February 19, 2010 at 12:59 am Reply

    No pocket for me thanks!

  • Marine Boudeau

    February 19, 2010 at 12:54 am Reply

    Oh and definitely add a pocket. That’s always a nice notebook add-on.

  • Marine Boudeau

    February 19, 2010 at 12:52 am Reply

    Smaller one definitely!
    How much do you think each would sell for?
    Also I would look at using recycled materials and such. Make it also good for the earth!
    Great! 🙂

  • Andrea Musso

    February 19, 2010 at 12:12 am Reply

    Loved the concept! I’d go for the A6 as an A2 is too big for sketching to me. Still, I’m not sure about it being a 5 page sketchbook, I guess I’d like it to be bigger.

  • robert snyder

    February 18, 2010 at 11:29 pm Reply

    I’m thinking I would probably buy one of each, always carry them with me and see which one I used most before I bought in bulk. If I had to guess, it would be the larger. I use notebooks to generate ideas for paintings as well as design and when I paint I’m painting on bigger pieces of wood. The transfer size being close would be nice. I will let you now as soon as I buy them.

  • DT

    February 18, 2010 at 2:42 pm Reply

    You guys are just awesome with the speed of responses! Thanks for that. It is looking like (as compiled from here and twitter):
    Smaller A6 = 8 Votes
    Bigger A5 = 0 Votes
    Both = 4 Vote
    @Shen Heng: I’ll consider your suggestion for a back pocket for sure.
    @Sergio Vega Perry: I tried to keep it to regular sizes so that you get maximum size fits that work with standard photocopiers.

    @Steve Casper
    : Thanks for your comment. The paper has a pretty good feel and does not bleed through. In terms of weight it is a 100gsm paper stock.

  • Steve Casper

    February 18, 2010 at 12:22 pm Reply

    I like the concept. The smaller of the two has more appeal with me. What is the paper quality like? Will it bleed through if you sketch on the sheets in their folded format. I would also be curious as to the price.

  • Emmanuel G.

    February 18, 2010 at 7:52 am Reply

    Hmm if I’m right, with this simple and nice system we have 5 sheets (so 10 pages) or 40 if completly folded (so 80 pages)… waw that’s correct for a thin sketchbok.
    I like the both, A5-A2 for the bag and a A6-A3 in my pocket 🙂

  • Sergio Vega Perry

    February 18, 2010 at 5:20 am Reply

    I’d go for both, but with some modifications. The smaller one isn’t good enough for groups when it’s folded (i think). The larger one is. I would get the smaller one just for personal use, but only if it had more pages that folded into a smaller big page. Maybe just unfold to 4 time it’s initial size, but with more pages.

  • nick d

    February 18, 2010 at 4:31 am Reply

    I’d also suggest the smaller one. The whole idea is to make a large piece of paper portable, so why not go with the more portable size?

  • Reena Kay

    February 18, 2010 at 3:59 am Reply

    Love the big one coz i love to draw in big spaces. But, i also love the small one, easy to fit into a small bag to doodle during weddings. XD
    Agree with shenheng. a pocket size is even better. 🙂

  • William Sutton

    February 18, 2010 at 3:28 am Reply

    I think the smaller one…I like the idea of one per project, which makes sense since it is just 5 pages. What kind of price are you thinking for a 5 page sketchbook?

  • Shen Heng

    February 18, 2010 at 1:03 am Reply

    One more comment, maybe can consider a “pocket” on the last page for putting in namecards / bits n pieces etc.

  • Shen Heng

    February 18, 2010 at 1:00 am Reply

    Hey, I’d go for the smaller one…
    Keep me posted.

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