My first experience with MUJI takes me all the way back to college. I was studying in Manila and had been at SM Mall of Asia when I saw the grand opening of this Japanese minimalist store. Beyond the shelves filled with shampoo bottles and tea towels was a central booth filled with notebooks, notepads, stamps, paperclips, pencil cases, and pens of all tips and colors. Many years later and I still have MUJI stationery in my collection not because of wacky cover designs or novelty pink paper, but the complete absence of any of those things. . . .
You've probably seen it in your favorite teenage TV show, or on the book cover of a series you read as a kid. Images and scenes of students going through school halls, their backpacks slung over their shoulders and a composition notebook in one hand. The iconic black and white marble cover of this notebook has always caught my attention as a kid and a stationery collector. It's well-loved across the world too, both for its timeless design and its reputation as the notebook for messy, meaningful work. Quoting Format Magazine, it's "the rebellious cousin of the Moleskine" (source). The marble composition notebook has been around for as long as we can (or try to) remember, but Pentagram graphic designer Aron Fay wanted to create a modern . . .
Beautiful, quality paper bound to a simple yet elegant book cover where every purchase plants a tree—it's a combination that left me longing to hold my own Baron Fig Confidant notebook for years. At that time, shipping to the Philippines wasn't available and I didn't have a USA shipping subscription. Persistent, I kept returning to the website checking to see if that limitation had finally lifted so I could buy a Confidant of my own. I'm happy to say that wish finally came true when I received my Kickstarter backer rewards for supporting Baron Fig's Kickstarter for their new bag line (review coming soon!). The bag came with a set of Vanguard notebooks and my first Confidant notebook, the latter I couldn't stop caressing and ogling at. 😍 . . .
It was around 2011 when I discovered Field Notes from the USA and Whitelines® from Sweden. At that time I was still in uni and didn’t have the means of ordering Whitelines online, so I chose to try Field Notes instead (I still love the brand to this day!). https://www.instagram.com/p/BYfB60EgZm9/?taken-by=whitelinespaper The former has since been on my wish list for six whole years. When they announced the launch of their softwire dot grid notebook on Instagram last year, I decided it was time to bring this interesting concept of a notebook to the Philippines and finally give it a try. . . .
Big brands like Moleskine and Daycraft have long reigned over Philippine bookstores as the premium stationery for creative and professional work. I myself have been a long-time Moleskine user, having used their blank and lined notebooks for college, creative writing projects, and everyday notes. I probably would continue using Moleskine if it weren’t for social media and the widespread connections it can create. Through Facebook and Instagram, I discovered many other lesser-known stationery brands that hail from different parts of the world. . . .
Lined, blank, graph, dot grid–these are the Big Four when choosing a notebook based on paper type. Dot grid paper became especially popular when bullet journaling grew in popularity over the years. Big brands like Leuchtturm1917 and Moleskine responded to the demand with dot grid notebooks aimed at bullet journaling enthusiasts who wanted a good quality notebook for all of their bujo needs. . . .
Sunday Paper Co, a Manila-based stationery brand, was the first thing I searched for when I stepped into Common Room’s Rockwell branch two years ago. This was the year I started paying more attention to local brands like Sunday Paper that embodied good design and quality in their products. As a loyal fan of blank notebooks, I noticed and admired the black Simple Notebook right away. In fact, it was one of the very few items I took home with me on that trip. . . .
Discovering Baron Fig and CW Pencils (New York) last 2017 was like being sucked into a wormhole filled with beautiful notebooks and pencils. These guys introduced me to this world of paper-pencil lovers that feels right at home. I learned about pencils from all over the world, of different colors and brands, pencil grades and their differences that I promised myself a new set of higher-quality pencils on my birthday this year. . . .
I discovered a couple of noteworthy brands last year, one of which is DesignHatch. It's a homegrown brand of desktop essentials, such as A5 and A6 notebooks, planners, desk pads, and to-do list pads. I got to sit down with DesignHatch founder Aislinn Kee where she shared her story and how DesignHatch was born. However, I never did take a look at the products themselves. This marks the first feature of a well-designed and Philippine-made brand. . . .