I was in NYC for a couple of weeks during the summer of 2006 after I finished the Career Discovery Program in architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and I went to see the exhibit of the work of architect Zaha Hadid at the Guggenheim. I enjoyed exploring the variety of her built and unbuilt design work, but it was her sketchbooks that made the most lasting impression (image by Ivar Hagendoorn, same books different exhibit) —
If you look carefully, you’ll notice that a rectangular piece has been cut out of each page so that a pen can be stored inside when the book is closed. I had started to use a Moleskine notebook during the program at Harvard, and when I finished my first one I cut my second one like Zaha’s using a ruler and an X-Acto knife. That particular brand of notebooks is relatively popular and often recognized, but I think the reputation is deserved, as they are quite durable. I carry them everywhere, and with some black electric tape on the binding they will last more than six months.
I was shopping for architecture supplies at Accent Arts in Palo Alto, and noticed a short black lead-holder style pencil that looked like it would fit horizontally across the top of a notebook rather than vertically next to the spine. I compared it to one they had in stock, and it fit perfectly. My notebooks since then have all had a whole cut out at the top, and I’m currently on my eighth.
In addition to the pencil, Gabriela gave me a fountain pen that fits nicely, and I’ve been using Pilot G2 Mini’s more recently for their simplicity and reliability.
It takes an hour or two to cut each notebook, and I decided to try getting them laser cut. I took one to Canal Plastics, and talked to Raymond, with whom I had worked to get pieces of acrylic laser cut for architecture models at Kevin Kennon Architect. Both covers of the notebooks bend back, allowing for a cut straight through all of the pages, and he agreed to give it a try.
He agreed to cut those too, but had some trouble with burning on one of them, and didn’t want to cut any more. I cleaned off the ash …
… and will probably give a few to the friends that have requested them (Dan, Kabir, Jorge, Cassidy) and save the rest for later. It’s a somewhat scaled back third project, but my second one was pretty ambitious, so I’m satisfied.