A Q&A with Moleskine

I love my Moleskine notebooks. So much so that I tracked down Marco Beghin, President of Moleskine America, to ask him about the iconic notebook brand. Here’s what I found out:

What is the history of the Moleskine brand?
Moleskine® was created as a brand in 1997, bringing back to life the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin. A trusted and handy travel companion, the nameless black notebook held invaluable sketches, notes, stories, and ideas that would one day become famous paintings or the pages of beloved books. Today, the name Moleskine encompasses a family of nomadic objects: notebooks, diaries, journals, bags, writing instruments and reading accessories, dedicated to our mobile identity. Indispensable companions to the creative professions and the imagination of our times: they are intimately tied to the digital world.

What color notebooks sell the best?
Black is a classic and sells best by far.

Have there any been any duds?
We are a creative company so “duds” are a key to our creative process…everyone that works here has notebooks full of duds, some of which have become new projects. We take care to be thoughtful when we design a new object and part of that thoughtfulness is being willing to imagine as many duds as possible. You could describe design as taking a dud and carving away at it until it becomes a classic. Another important piece of the process is listening. Even once a new objects join the collection we are careful to make improvements based on the reaction of our fans.

Tell me about the “Cover Art” project?
In 2009, Moleskine launched an online gallery called myMoleskine where users could upload scans of their drawings, paintings, etc. that were made on the pages of their Moleskine notebooks. The new Cover Art collection is a celebration of this whole experience. The collection starts with three new notebooks whose cover images were selected among uploads on the myMoleskine gallery on moleskine.com. Each of the contributing authors who lent their images to the project selected a different non-profit organization to which Moleskine has made a donation.

What is the strangest story you’ve heard about the contents of another’s notebook?
The way people fill their notebooks is a personal expression. I deeply respect peoples creativity and refuse to judge.

And what do you write in yours?
Everything. I keep notes from meetings, collect ideas, and use it as a place to draw ideas when I am talking with people.

Lined or unlined?
Depends on my mood and goals. Lines, both ruled and grid, when I want to be more organized. Plain when I want to be more free flowing.

Why does Moleskine have such a cult following among designers and design enthusiasts?
I think designers appreciate how quiet our brand is. In a world of noise the Moleskine notebook is a clean, functional platform for creative ideas. The notebook is a pleasure to touch and use.

Lastly, in this digital age of computers, online calendars, and iPads, what motivates tech-savvy people to still use a notebook?
Digital technology is great, but the analogue act of touching pen to paper is a powerful experience that is deeply rooted in us. Our philosophy is that the analog and digital evolve together and that we all constantly navigate a digital-analogue spectrum in our lives. Moleskine fans have always organically shared their creations through a network of blogs, interactive groups and virtual archives and they still find value in using notebook itself as a platform for their imagination.