Panobook by Studio Neat - Kickstarter

Although the pen is the tool we use to extract our ideas, the notebook is where those ideas come to life and live.

You would think that after so many years of writing, drawing, and creating, that the notebook is about "figured out", but I'd say we'd be wrong in making that assumption. 

I was recently contacted by the guys over at Studio Neat, an inventive duo (Tom and Dan) that is set out to solve the problems of utility and function (mixed with clean design) across a range of product types. From filming, device charging, and even cocktail making, these guys have dabbled in a lot and always seem to put a lot of thought and passion into their work.

The newest product in their lineup is a notebook called the Panobook, and they were kind enough to send an initial prototype sample my way to check out.

They are currently running a Kickstarter campaign for the notebook which is already wildly successful (congrats guys!), but I'm excited to give my perspective and thoughts for a proper review.

What sets the Panobook apart from other notebooks I've used is it's shape and overall function. It is a slim notebook roughly 6.25" x 11.25" (160 mm x 288 mm) that is designed to fit in a variety of places you may be writing, and in different formats. Landscape diagrams, lists... this covers it all.

Due to its spiral binding, the notebook lays completely flat on the desk/table as well as allows you to flip the used pages to the back, in turn taking up less desk real estate which is awesome.

Each notebook comes in a card stock sleeve that matches the inside page design which acts as a cover, but also as an archiving tool when storing your books away for later. The only noticeable branding is their label on the side. 

Probably being nit picky and I don't have beef with the way they put their name on the notebook, but from a brand perspective (and for the longevity of the product appeal) I'd say drop the ".com". The company is bigger than just a website, and people will find you guys with a simple search. (this is where I'd normally insert a smiley face emoji...) 

The covers are a thick, soft, almost rubbery material that feel great and have a subtle texture

My initial reaction is that I really see this book being geared towards more of an architect, app developer, product designer... those types of uses. I wouldn't really see this notebook for more traditional writing or journaling, but I could be wrong. I suppose it depends on your style.

I love working in grids, so their subtle dot grid pattern on the page is perfect. One thing they've added to the pattern are some subtle cues in the form of right angle "corners" that can be connected to create iPhone or mobile layouts (app design thought...)

The paper is nice and stiff 70 lb weight, and each book comes with 50 pages or 100 sheets.

In testing multiple writing tools on the paper, I found it holds up pretty well under most circumstances, but not perfect for all.

The fountain pen feathered a bit, and heavier inks like the Sharpie bled noticeably through the back. Not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of if it drives you nuts.

My go-to pens for this notebook would hands down be a felt tip like a Papermate Flair or any of my pens loaded up with a Schmidt Fineliner.    

Honestly, I really like what the guys have created and I feel they've made an awesome and unique addition into what could be perceived as a pretty saturated space. The quality and utility of the notebooks is fantastic and I'm glad to see that people are excited to buy them.

Thanks again to Dan and Tom for sending me the sample for review, and feel free to check out their Kickstarter campaign if these fit your fancy.

ARRIS BLOCK - Magnetic Wooden Desk Fidget Blocks

I enjoy building/making things, particularly in a tangible 3D way, and one of the most rudimentary forms of doing so is with blocks. Most of us grew up with fond memories of either a set of random shaped blocks that grandpa cut up from his woodshop, or maybe the standard square "alphabet style" (you know the ones). Even with all the electronic gadgets and fancy toys, still today one of my favorite things is sitting down to build castles, towers, and all sorts of adventures with my own kids using just little blocks of wood.

Now, imagine taking that simple building block creative space to your desk...

Well, that is what the guys over at ARRIS BLOCK have set out to do with this debut Kickstarter campaign for a desk accessory of the same name with the goal of taking creative "fidgeting" to the workspace during needed attention breaks.

What they've created is a set of 165 small blocks or "tiles" that are 1" x 0.5" x 0.25" (I really, really love the proportions...) that can stack together to make a variety of shapes, and they are held together internally with powerful magnets. The guys were kind enough to send me over a set of the "natural" color blocks to check out and review, so many thanks to them.

When I say small, think like Scrabble board wooden tile small.

I'd have to say that this might be a first in this type of category here on The Clicky Post, but being a "desk" type accessory and based on my love for wooden products and design, I find it a fitting addition in the library.

Being on Kickstarter still, I'm sure packaging is still being finalized for how they'll be sold and shipped out, but I received a neatly stacked bunch of them which all-in-all took up only about a 4" x 4" (more a rectangle though) space on the desk which was a pretty small footprint.

These things beg to be played with. The first thing I did is sort of ripped off a chunk from the main block and let them fall into an unorganized bunch which created some interesting shapes on its own.

I love things to be right angles, symmetrical, and organized when it comes to design, so these seem to push my buttons pretty good...

The quality of the wood pieces are good without a lot of sharp edges or splintering, but they are wood which may allow for some variation. In size/thickness there is some variation, but I don't feel it distracts from the utility.

Each of the pieces is covered in a clear coat of sorts which is a great thing as it will allow them to be cleaned up from time to time if they get grimy, and prevents any oils from your hands from penetrating the wood.

The pieces are surprisingly responsive to each other, and the magnets are quite strong. I'd have to admit, for the first few minutes in building the only thing that I had to get the hang of was understanding the polarity of how the blocks "clicked" together which are either flush on top of each other, or in an alternating half and half scheme. This will limit the types of shapes that can be made, but I'm sure the ideas are endless and I'm just scratching the surface. 

I feel the execution on these little blocks is pretty fantastic, and they serve their purpose extremely well. And, they look pretty awesome while doing it... 

I could absolutely see these sitting on a wide range of desks without drawing the potentially unfavorable attention that other "fidget" solutions may gain. Actually, any attention they do get from colleagues or coworkers may be out of sincere interest due to their minimalist, yet interesting appeal.

And, they take black and white "architecture-esque" photos...

A set of these isn't on the super cheap end, but they're going on Kickstarter for about $75 a set which I feel is an honest value on an item like this.

These have been extremely enjoyable to play with and review, and special thanks again to they guys at ARRIS BLOCK for sending them over. Take a few minutes to check out their Kickstarter page and video if these may be of interest for you or as a gift!

Dee Charles Designs Leather Single Pen Sleeve - Rawhide Blue

As of late, I tend to carry my pens in my jeans pocket or in my bag, and rather than tossing them in I've been using various leather pen sleeves to keep the pens protected from keys, etc.

I'm always a sucker for new leather goods to try, so I was happy to oblige when Pen Chalet reached out to see if I would like to review a sleeve from one of their new product lines called Dee Charles Designs.

The sleeve came in a nicely branded black box, and rested inside was the new sleeve.

I opted for a more rustic looking leather which goes under the name "Rawhide" that is stitched with blue thread. This is different than what I would usually choose as a colorway (because I'm boring...), but I like it.

This particular leather shows wear really nicely when you start putting pens in the sleeve. As it stretches, the leather color adjusts and shifts a bit, giving it an instant worn-in aesthetic.

Branded/stamped into the leather is the Dee Charles Design logo which is a monogram in the shape of a fountain pen nib which I thought was tastefully done (and quite clever...).

The sleeve is made from thick leather which is a total plus. I absolutely detest those thin, flimsy, "leather" sleeves (if they are even made of it), like the cheap-o ones that sometimes come with inexpensive pens to try and add some fanciness to it (which they fail at), that feel like they are going to fall apart.

That certainly does not describe this sleeve as it is thick and sturdy, as it should be.

The sleeve isn't overly big, but I would put it on the larger size compared to some other sleeves. Although you could squeeze a smaller pen down into the sleeve, fishing it out would be a chore. For this product I'd use it for my more full size pens, although really large pens could be problematic.

For example, a Lamy 2000 fountain pen is about a perfect fit.

This particular sleeve comes in at $22, although the current listing has it squeaking in just under $20 which I feel is worth the price based on the quality of the product.

In addition to the single pen sleeve, Pen Chalet also carries a Dee Charles double sleeve as well as a pocket notebook/pen combo cover. If you are doing some shopping at Pen Chalet and haven't picked up a sleeve for your pens (or 5... I never have enough), these may be a good option to consider.

Thanks again to Pen Chalet for sending the sleeve to review!