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|■ About the Publication|
Magazine B is an ad-free monthly publication that dedicates each issue to one well-balanced brand unearthed from around the globe. The magazine introduces the brand’s hidden stories, as well as its sensibility and culture, and is an easy but also serious read for anyone with an interest in brands.
■ About the Publisher
JOH & Company is a creative company founded in April 2011 by Suyong Joh, former Director of Creative Marketing & Design at NHN. He oversaw and directed the construction of NHN Green Factory, which is the headquarters of NHN, the company that has earned domestic and international reputation as “Google of Korea.” He also created a sensation in the publishing world when he compiled the construction process in a publication, Green Factory. Currently, he leads JOH & Company, a group of creative directors that he has brought together from various fields, and he is conducting complex projects encompassing architectural design, brand consultation, interior, food & beverage service, and product design, based on his own experience. The first fruit of such endeavor is magazine B.
■ About the Issue
Welcome to the 62nd edition of B.
Years ago, when I was a fresh university graduate just beginning my career, I was very conscious about outfitting myself in a way that I hoped would convey competence and poise. I attended work meetings in pointy-toed heels instead of sneakers, and I was rarely on the go without my quintessential Starbucks take- out cup in hand. In retrospect, I was probably trying to convince myself as much as anyone else. After all, the look of the ambitious and stylish New York workingwoman was a powerful image to aspire to at the time, though it’s hard to say if the heels and the Starbucks actually added to the quality of my work. Steve Jobs’ iconic New Balance sneakers probably got people’s attention for similar reasons, more as a totemic symbol of ingenuity than as a pair of running shoes. And in the same vein, I once heard a stockbroker say his preferred accessory to pair with fine suits was a Timex wristwatch. I suspect his choice of timepiece also had a lot to do with the qualities— flexibility, or perhaps creativity—he wished to communicate.
For myself and numerous others, Moleskine notebooks have had a similar totemic significance. From the outset, they made a memorable impression, eclipsing the no-nonsense spiral-bound notebook as well as the fussy, for-show wares of stationery stores. Every element suggested smart, thoughtful design, from the signature polish and texture of the cover material to the rounded edges, the elastic band and the cream- colored pages. It’s no wonder Moleskine was called the Rimowa of notebooks. The company’s strategy to distribute through bookstores rather than stationery shops was also an effective move. It was only a matter of time before the unassuming but unmistakable, pricier-for-a-reason notebook caught the eye of proud philomaths everywhere. The appeal of Moleskine notebooks also goes beyond their design. For the self- styled nouveau intellectual, a bigger draw has likely been the brand’s purported history as the “legendary notebook” of thinkers and artists like Matisse, Picasso, and Hemingway. This tagline has in some ways, become a more distinctive marker of Moleskine than its logo. And the legacy it alludes to is one most Moleskine enthusiasts, in their double appreciation for the notebook’s modern good looks and rich heritage, have never thought to question. It’s not surprising that many today consider the brand a century and some odd years old. This is exactly what its makers intended. To put it plainly for any still unsuspecting readers, the Moleskine notebook was actually created by Milanese designers in 1997, in an attempt to recreate the black, French-made carnets described by Bruce Chatwin in his quasi-travelog The Songlines.
Today, however, Moleskine notebooks enjoy a legacy that needs no fictional embellishment, and a reputation that makes arguments over the authenticity of its backstory seems superfluous. The figures say enough. The company most recently recorded EUR 150 million in annual revenue, together with 30 percent annual growth, easily defying doomsayers’ predictions about the sad fate of paper stationery companies in the digital era. What’s more, Moleskine is not about to position itself as the champion of analog virtues in the face of digital encroachment. On the contrary, the company has not only collaborated with the note-taking app Evernote but also released advanced tools like the Smart Notebook, which can be synced to the Adobe Creative Cloud. There’s also the Smart Writing Set, composed of the Moleskine-developed Paper Tablet and smart pen that gives users a digital experience while preserving the feel of writing on paper. Moleskine has, in essence, transformed the previously closed world of paper notebooks into an open platform. With regard to this somewhat radical trajectory, founder Maria Sebregondi, who designed the original Moleskine notebook, has said the brand strives to become a significant bridge between the analog and digital worlds.
The course Moleskine has charted is a reminder of what it looks like to maintain a sense of balance in life. Progress is not always linear, and by our long- accumulated collective wisdom, we know better than to always embrace “new” as “better.” Moleskine has demonstrated a commitment not simply to novelty but to better experiences, and utilizes the analog tools at its disposal to enhance the usefulness of its products, rather than stirring nostalgia. In that sense, Moleskine’s pursuits inspire anticipation, and I look forward to seeing how their notebooks—and whatever else they unveil next—become totems for future generations.
Content & Editorial Director
■ Table of contents
09 Editor’s Letter
12 Memory Lane
Memories of Moleskine notebooks
A chronicle of core Moleskine items over the ages
16 Into the Market
The Moleskine shop and cafe in Milan, Italy
Isabelle Boinot, artist
Moleskine’s brand-defining product family
Symbolic elements of Moleskine’s trademark notebook
Competitors with their own edge
Young-man Huh, cartoonist
52 My Tools
The people who use Moleskine as part of their toolkit
62 On the Desk
Moleskines on a creative’s desk
Sylvie Betard, stationery brand founder
Retail presence of Molekine in three European cities
Products that look even better with Moleskine
The power of records
98 Brand Story
Moleskine’s birth and growth
A manufacturing process that prioritizes the environment
Special releases created through various brand collaborations
108 Creative Relationship
Moleskine’s four languages of creation
110 Timeless Thoughts
In the words of artists who created the Moleskine stories
Arrigo Berni, Moleskine CEO
Moleskine in numbers
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