This just in from Milan: Moleskine has just unveiled Reading, Writing and Traveling, a new line of stationery and bags, designed by Italian designer Giulio Iacchetti.
The new collection, which marks an exciting new direction for Moleskine, was part of our Milan Preview a month ago:
Moleskine introduces three new collections dedicated to Writing, Traveling, and Reading. They include bags, pens, pencils, reading glasses, cases, reading stands and USB rechargeable booklights. They will join the existing collections of legendary Moleskine notebooks and planners as a complete set of tools for cultural pleasure and mobile living.
As for the designer himself, Iacchetti is perhaps best known for "Moscardino," above, a biodegradable two-way utensil, which garnered one of the highest accolades in design a decade ago, when it became part of MoMA's permanent collection.
Read on for the full details, more product photos and an exclusive Q&A with Iacchetti...
Core77: Moleskine refers to the "contemporary nomad" as the underlying theme for the new Reading, Writing and Traveling collections. How does this collection embody your take on modern mobility?
Giulio Iacchetti: Everything was borne from the pen: I thought this object would "get married" with Moleskine hardcover notebooks. This "union"—realized by changing the way the clip on the cap attaches, horizontally instead of the common ones that are vertical—was the starting point for the three collections. Every piece could be attached to another, [and ultimately] attached to our body, comfortable to dress, to wear, to follow us wherever. This means modern mobility.
Despite the ostensible simplicity of the new collection, it's obvious that a lot of thought went into the design process. In fact, much of the functionality is tucked into the lining of the bags: the internal strap adjusters afford a cleaner look and modular pouches are great solution to organizing the main compartment. Meanwhile, the upside-down nametags are a clever take on that same feature in the notebooks. What was the inspiration behind each of these innovations?
I built the inside part of the bags by thinking how the user fills an empty prototype [bag], with Moleskine notebooks, pens, pencils, tablet. Moreover I thought that one of the leading features of Moleskine is the possibility to personalize [it].
Detail of upside-down nametag...
And the 'reversible' glasses, what was the "Eureka" moment for that insight?
The idea came by just observing that these kind of glasses have the same focus lenses. For this reason I thought that you could wear them random... arriving [at the idea] to design them perfectly symmetrically.
Much of the appeal of Moleskine notebooks lies in their minimalist design, solid construction and the material—specifically its tactility. The new designs preserve this aesthetic even as they accommodate the very gadgets—laptops and tablets—that are intended to replace traditional longhand stationery, including the pens that are part of this collection. To what degree did tactile or "analog" essence of the original Moleskine notebook factor into the final products?
Moleskine's "paper-tactile-world" first aim is not to compete against "digital" world, we still keep on writing, drawing, reading while moving or travelling and we will keep on doing it for a long time. Another example of this is the installation that we are presenting at Salone del Mobile in Milan: a robot handling a pen. It draws and writes. We could not separate form from content, every detail is always designed, some examples: bags' touch, the cap sound when filling the pen in, glasses formal symmetry and so on...
In keeping with Moleskine's longhand essence, the Writing collection features a variety of pens and pencils, as well as a pencil sharpener, ink refills and a handy carrying case. While these new items largely match the original notebooks, Iacchetti has devised a pen cap that can be clipped both the usual way and from the side.
The next logical extension of their product line is the Reading collection, which includes a tablet / notebook stand, a booklight and "reversible" reading glasses—Iachetti's innovation here is a horizontal symmetrical design that ensures there is no way to wear them upside down.
While the stationery represents the natural progression of their current product line, the Traveling collection marks the brand's first foray into soft goods with a lifestyle collection. Choose from a journalist bag, backpack, tote, messenger bag or shoulder bag for all of your schlepping needs, which can be supplemented with detachable velcro pouches or a good old-fashioned laptop sleeve.
Iacchetti preserves the minimalist elegance of the notebooks while expanding—literally adding volume to—the classic design.
Just as the leather exterior mimics that of the soft-back notebooks, the microsuede lining evokes the pages within. The last, distinctive touch is the enlarged elastic straps assert the Moleskine identity in lieu of in-your-face logos.
The bags easily echo the understatement and refinement of the notebooks. Yet translating Moleskine into a full-fledged line of bags and accessories was no small undertaking, and Iacchetti has done a remarkable job re-imagining Moleskine as an array of new products without compromising the brand's identity.
Of course, since we had the opportunity to see the entire collection in person, we gotta admit that he's right: Moleskine is more about a look and feel than a specific product. In fact, it's interesting to think that e-reader users, for example, may find the booklight useful for their electronic devices: in this sense, the Reading, Writing and Traveling collection is as much as a complement to today's ultra-connected lifestyle as it is a new direction for Moleskine.
Don't worry if you can't make it to their installation in Milan; Moleskine will unveil the collection in the US at NY Design Week in May.
Giulio Iacchetti, born in 1966, works in the field of industrial design since 1992. He alternates this activity with teaching at many universities and schools of design in Italy and abroad. The distinctive characteristics of his work are research and definition of new object typologies, like the Moscardino, the multiuse biodegradable utensil for which, in 2001, together with Matteo Ragni, he won the Compasso d'Oro, with the object becoming part of the permanent design collection of MoMA New York. The concept and coordination of the group project Eureka Coop, for Coop Italia, brought design into the major retailing circuit and focused on the new generation of Italian design. In 2009 this project won the Premio dei Premi for the innovation bestowed by the President of the Italian Republic. He works as artistic director for important brands like iB rubinetterie, Ceramica Globo and Il Coccio design edition. For Corraini Edizioni he has edited the book ItalianitÃ , a collection of contributions on objects, symbols, odors, flavors and sounds that contribute to form the consciousness of the Italian people. In May 2009 the Milan Triennale held a solo show of his work entitled "Giulio Iacchti. Disobedient Objects."