Spaces for Ideas: The New Prototypes are In!

Sorry friends, this post is a week later than promised. I have been caught up with a lot of work of late. So in the same spirit as my Expandable Book where I shared my first prototypes, here are some thoughts of the prototypes from my latest sketchbook designs.

In design, the process is always the same, but every problem and its solution is different.

If you have not already done so, check out my previous article previous article Spaces for Ideas: New Additions to the Family! to give you a better context of where I am coming from. The process this time was a lot quicker as we were more ready to roll then my first Expandable Book design. This was because of my eagerness to realize my concepts so that I can expand the range and that my sketch models were ready to be taken to the next level. It also helped that I learnt a lot about the book construction process with the successful launch of my technically difficult Expandable Sketchbook.

Spaces for Ideas: Story Book

As described in my previous post, this Accordion Fold Sketchbook was inspired by traditional Japanese accordion fold sketchbooks 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. In fact, the accordion sheet allows you to develop your designs in a storybook-like manner. Starting from the first page to the end, you can link each panel as you see fit. Because of this I thought it makes sense to rename this sketchbook concept as the Story Book instead.

The folded pages should be flushed with the edge of the cover and not stepped in as you see it here. By the way, this sketchbook has the perfect paper texture – I spent a lot of time selecting the paper!

This “thumb gap” idea, created by the space between the rounded paper and square cover corner, is not working at the moment. This “thumb gap” was originally meant to help with opening the sketchbook as well as creating a nice quirky element. Unfortunately, as you can see, this bent corner was the result of me spending a day field-testing the sketchbook in the side pocket of my cargo pants. I am afraid with regular use, there would not be much of a thumb gap left!

The simpler the design, the more perfect each element or detail needs to be.

This is all I have at the moment, but suffice to say, I will still be spending some time to refine this sketchbook design. I will also be looking into the ergonomics of drawing on a stack of accordion linked pages and the orientation of the cover. That thumb gap will likely disappear, and the rounded corners, if still possible, be taken all the way into the cover.

Spaces for Ideas: Iteration Book

The Iteration Book, formally called the Tracing Paper Sketchbook (such a boring name eh?), is designed for old-school designers, architects, and animators, who love to trace over their sketches as a means to develop their designs.

The Iteration Book is created in a square (148x148mm) format as it allows creative people to use this book in a 180 degree manner. You can open it from the left or right or even reporter style (bottom – up). The spine is formed by an open stitch binding process.

Again, I spent a lot of time selecting the paper. This powder white tracing paper is great to write on as it has the gripping feel of normal tracing paper, with the lightness of rice paper.

This is an example of how your sketches will look like under an overlay. Please also note the smudges are intentional as I was testing different pen mediums. Ballpoint pens, markers, felt tip pens and traditional drawing pens (with pigment ink) all work well on this tracing paper. The only problem I had (hence, the smudges) was with Gel ink pens as they take a much longer time to dry. It is a general characteristic of Gel ink pens since they have long drying times on all types tracing paper. I am wondering if this would be a big issue and how many of you would want to use Gel in pens in a tracing paper sketchbook like this? I would love to hear your feedback on this.

Spaces for Ideas: Bookmark Strap

For the 3rd design, I have a special treat for you. In my previous article, I mentioned briefly that there was a 3rd design, and this 3rd design was not really a sketchbook. I could not tell you too much then, but now with the pictures of the prototype, seeing is understanding!

So what do you think of this Bookmark Strap? I’m quite excited about this idea, but it still requires some fine-tuning of the prototype. This is particularly important, as the Bookmark Strap is meant to fit all Spaces for Ideas products! This includes the two sketchbooks in this blog post and the Expandable Book as shown in the images! It will be sold separately from the sketchbooks so that you can decide if you want one or more.


All in all, I hope you can see from my design process how important it is to “get real” quick. The faster you are, the more you will learn about your design. However we also need to realize that there are limitations to the medium. That is why prototypes in actual materials, are vital in fine-tuning designs. They can bring to a design a heavy dose of reality. So despite the higher cost of prototypes, in comparison to foam/sketch/mockup models, they are certainly well worth the investment.
So what do you think of the process and the designs thus far? I would love to hear your feedback.

  • Design Translator

    October 25, 2010 at 11:15 am Reply

    Hey Emmanuel,
    Thanks for sharing the link. That is a really nice idea!

  • Emmanuel

    October 24, 2010 at 6:16 am Reply

    I recently view this printed clip and that remind me the strap discussion 🙂

  • DT

    August 7, 2010 at 10:57 am Reply

    Hello all, thanks for your feedback both here and on twitter. I’m actually in the process of refining all the designs. Never rest and never stop improving!
    @Shang Lee – Thank you as usual for your great feedback. I did not really consider a horizontal strap, let me think about it again.
    @Emmanuel – Thanks for your thoughts. Haha, have to admit I am a little concern about the drying time as well. I’m left handed, and if you work the book backwards from right to left you should be fine. That’s why I kept the iteration book geometrical.
    @b – Hi B and thanks for your vote of confidence, that is one of my favorite details as well.

  • b

    August 3, 2010 at 11:51 am Reply

    Beautiful detail the one of the rounded pages (picture # 2).

  • Emmanuel

    August 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm Reply

    The strap would be useful (I keep the original band of paper of the sketchbook for that). I think I never saw a horizontal strap, but it is worth considering (also to look different than a moleskine) if its integration is not too complicated.
    The “story book” seems to be as cool (too bad for the thumb gap); and for the “iteration book” I can’t said, I’m not used to work on tracing paper because it’s often too long to dry for me (left-handed^^’), even without a gel pen (love the steadler-like).

  • Shang Lee

    August 2, 2010 at 11:49 am Reply

    Have you considered a horizontal strap? I find that useful for holding a pen, plus binding my iphone with my book. I got this book as a gift and test driving it in the real world. I’m using pilot G-2 05 pen. I think finding a suitable material for the strap will be challenging as well. either too stiff, or will become lose after a certain time. For bookmark, maybe a simple ribbon might do, hinged at the top spine. my 2 cents.

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