This product has officially launched! Get your sketchbook at the Spaces for Ideas Store now!
After using my Moleskine for almost a year, I realized what I thought was the world’s best sketchbook was not even close.
The cover often bends out of shape, the spine makes my pages shift like a deck of cards, and it contains pages so incredibly thin that pretty much everything goes through it. While no sketchbook is perfect, I believe my fairly harsh critique was influenced by price and marketing/branding of a Moleskine. In other words, I expected something better considering how much I paid for it!
This got me thinking; while no sketchbook is perfect, just what did I not like about the Moleskine or even sketchbooks in general? I thought about all the problems I had with sketchbooks, and after that made a list of key points of what I thought my dream sketchbook would be like. And like any typical designer, I knew from that moment I could design one that was better. I hope!
1. A sketchbook that highlights the work and not itself
2. Well constructed and affordable
3. No spines getting in the way of cross page sketching
4. Just the right size but with enough space or room to play with
5. “Boundary-less” pages
6. Flexible enough to do what you will
7. Decent quality paper that takes all non-wet mediums like ink, pencil or markers.
8. Appeals to everyone, not just designers
I started, like I do with all design problems, sketching out my ideas and possible solutions.
At the same time I worked my sketches, I went out to do research as well as contacted a Printer/Bookbinder. I also knew I had a new “language” I needed to learn, and the Printer was a great help! I also went out to bookstores and art shops (even Muji) and bought a number of sketchbooks that had elements of the look or construction I wanted in my design.
I finally settled on a couple of directions, and practicing what I preach, I quickly built a mockup (top left in the picture above) over a weekend. I actually took a video of it, but I’m not sure if showing it will give you the right impression of the design as it was really rough. But for personal consumption, any quick and rough mockup the better as it got me going and better understanding the problem.
Frequent visits to the Printer/Bookbinder really helped, as she showed me the ropes, taught me the “language” they used and the in’s and out’s of bookbinding. I’ve only scratched the surface, but I’ve learnt a lot. In design it is always good to be really close to where the product is made. I’ve changed the design so many times after learning about the manufacturing constraints and seeing so many other options I could use (see a samples above). In fact many things I thought I knew about printing and bookbinding were actually myths.
Finally, after a lot of exploration, testing, discussion and brainstorming with fellow designers, friends and family: “Spaces for Ideas” was born! While we are talking about sketchbooks here, “thinking big” pushed me to envisioned Spaces for Ideas far beyond just sketchbooks. I won’t share everything here today, but I like to say that I’m really inspired by this brand name as it’s very apt don’t you think? I’ve even bought www.spacesforideas.com!
Well do stay tuned, as I’ll be in touch with a blog post of the actual prototype of the design I’ve decided to develop in the next week or so. I’m sure you can pick up clues in this post, but I would like to keep it as a surprise for you for next time. Meanwhile, do leave me your thoughts and feedback, as I love to hear what you think?
Edit 1: The next installment of Spaces for Ideas: The First Prototype is up!
Edit 2: Check out the third installment of this project, Spaces for Ideas: The Brand.
Edit 3: Check out the final installment of this project, Spaces for Ideas: The Final Prototype.
This product has launched! Get your sketchbook at the Spaces for Ideas Store now!
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