I've been enjoying this little corner of the web for some time now, mainly focusing on inks and pens. But these are more or less useless without the humble paper/notebook that let's you capture your thoughts. So here comes the "Paper Plane", where I review some of the paper and notebooks that I've enjoyed using over the years. Today's guest is the Filofax A5 Refillable Notebook, and more specifically the Architexture variant of this nice piece of stationary.
Filofax is best known for their planners, but they also have a really useful notebook, that came to market somewhere around 2015. I failed to notice it then, but I stumbled across it a couple of months ago, and decided to try it out.
The "Architexture" incarnation of these notebooks has a very minimalistic design, that I find aesthetically pleasing. The notebook on the photo is the "Blue Suede" variant, which has a kind of velours feel to it, and has the big advantage of exhibiting strong anti-slip properties. This notebook stays put on the surface where you lay it down - a property that I appreciate. Branding is almost absent, except for a small engraved logo on the back-cover. These Filofax notebooks come in a wide variety of cover designs, so there is sure to be one to match your liking. You can get them in A4, A5 and A6 sizes. My main purpose is for notetaking at work, so I got me the A5 size which fits my needs perfectly.
The defining characteristic of this notebook is its spiral binding, which keeps the pages together. This spiral is the Filofax implementation of the well-known disc-bound system for refillable notebooks. I personally prefer this spiral binding over solid discs. The spirals feel less obtrusive, and make for a less bulky feel of the notebook. They look flimsy, but are sturdy enough and up to the task.
The spiral binding pokes through the back of the notebook. This may look a bit odd, but that's how the spiral is attached to the cover. On the inside, the spiral keeps the (refillable) pages together. A completely filled notebook is about 1 cm thick, and can comfortably hold about 60 sheets (I actually counted the pages in my own notebook ;-). A new notebook comes with 56 lined 100gsm sheets, 4 dividers and a plastic ruler that can also serve as a bookmark. I know that 60 sheets doesn't sound like a lot, but these notebooks are refillable, so that's not much of an issue.
What I really like about this notebook is that it stays completely flat when opened. This makes for a very comfortable writing surface aka the Paper Plane. The spiral binding is small enough not to be intrusive, and doesn't obstruct your writing while using the left-side page.
This notebook makes use of removable pages with punch holes that have a slit extending to the side of the paper. This means that you can easily add / remove pages from the notebook, or reposition them to a new location. Beware that you need to be gentle when removing pages - you might damage the slits when handling the page too roughly. Because of the fragility of the slits, Filofax uses a 100gsm heavy paper for its own refills. The paper itself is reasonably fountain-pen friendly, but I'm not a fan of it. I find the blue imprint of lines/grid on the paper to be a bit too visually present. I would have preferred a slightly fainter imprint.
Filofax sells their own refills for this notebook, but I find them to be too expensive (about 5 EUR for 32 A5 100gsm sheets). Fortunately, they also sell a paper punch so that you can make your own refills. That's the route I went! I selected my own 100gsm fountain-pen friendly paper, and went on to print my own A5 designs. Currently I use a less obtrusive grid paper (with more greyish lines than the blue ones on Filofax's own refills), plus a template for meeting notes. The paper punch is rather expensive (at 50 EUR), but for me it's worth it for the freedom it gives me to choose my own paper. And as an extra plus: if you look online, there's tons of free templates available to customize your notebook (planners, travel journal, bullet journal, meeting notes, ... you name it).
My own customized notebook is my daily workhorse. It's divided into three sections, using dividers. Section 1 is my bullet journal for noting todo's, events and quick thoughts. For this I follow quite closely the barebones method presented at bulletjournal.com. Section 2 is used for meeting notes (using the meeting notes template), and section 3 has blank pages for mindmapping. At the end of the week I take pictures of my meeting notes (using the Scannable app that automatically converts them to pdf), and file these in Evernote (with the added bonus that Evernote recognizes my handwriting, and makes my notes searchable - a perfect marriage of analog and digital ;-). I can then remove the pages I no longer need, and add new empty pages to the notebook.
At the back of my notebook, I added a Leuchtturm 1917 pen loop. This holds my Lamy 2000 4-colour multipen. I know... it's a ballpoint... but here I prefer convenience over writing comfort. Having 4 colours in one pen is really nice. The day a multi-colour fountain pen comes to market, I will gladly swap over to that setup ;-) For normal writing in the notebook, there's always an EDC fountain pen in my pocket (usually a Kaweco).
The Filofax A5 Refillable Notebook already exists for quite some years, but I only recently discovered it. I really like its minimalistic design, and the refillable page concept. You can easily tailor the notebook to your own preferences. And using a compatible paper punch, you can swap in your own paper & paper designs. This notebook is currently my daily work companion, and always accompanies me. It's eminently functional, and if you're looking for a flexible solution yourself, you should give it a try.
Edited by namrehsnoom, 09 March 2019 - 23:27.