I recently received some post from Paris: two beautiful notebooks by Soumkine, a lifestyle brand based in the French capital. I’ve been following Soumkine on Instagram for ages (their photos are seriously beautiful) restraining myself while I finished some other paper products. Today I’m sharing my purchases – a weekly planner and a dot grid pocket notebook – and first impressions.
Soumkine are a Parisian brand specialising in handmade, seriously high-quality notebooks. Each notebook is hand-stitched, bound in thick textured cover stock with an internal powdery-blue cover, full of 70gsm uncoated ivory paper suitable for graphite and ink alike. In my shipment I received a cute postcard with a handwritten note, which was a nice, personal touch.
In fact, shopping at Soumkine means a whole host of personal touches. Each paper product has a unique number and certificate of authenticity, so you know it’s made to the brand’s incredibly high standards. Secondly, each notebook has a Soumkine logo sticker and a nameplate to personalise it and make it your own.
We need to talk about this belly band artwork
Each product is sheathed in a wide band with hand-drawn artwork by Fiodor Soumkine himself; drawn in an old-fashioned style described as a “nod to 19th century graphic arts and typography”. The artwork is different between products and there is an amazing amount of detail on there. I know it’s not meant to be on there all the time but I’m keeping it on! Oh to be able to draw like this (I’m envious).
Free-fill weekly planner refill
Recently I have figured out that I need some kind of weekly diary. I record my appointments or things to do in the monthly calendar view of my Hobonichi Techo. However, when people ask me whether I’m free or what I’m up to on a certain day, I never have my Hobo with me to refer to, and always have to get back to people to confirm things. I needed a diary that I could carry around with me; I’ve established that the Hobo is firmly in journal territory for me, and not planner.
I also have a woefully neglected Midori Traveler’s Notebook that I had confined to the shelf. I picked this up on my trip to Amsterdam in March and even had it monogrammed, thinking it would become part of my everyday life. I just couldn’t get used to it though, preferring my system of using pocket notebooks. The Traveler’s setup just felt a bit formal and professional for me. Not wishing to neglect it any longer though, I thought I would choose a weekly diary refill for the MTN, and try my hand at making better use of it as well as filling a gap in my planning system.
Soumkine do a range of weekly and monthly A5 planning notebooks, including an A5 slim version compatible with an MTN. I chose one in Smoke – a deep steely grey which I thought would look smart in my black MTN.
A free-fill weekly planner is perfect for my needs. I just need to be able to record what I’m up to from day to day and obviously I don’t want to wait until the new year when a range of bespoke year planners are available. I really like the weekly view on first glance though, it looks like there’s enough space for me to use effectively, and I love the typefaces used.
Dot-grid pocket notebook
I’m a pocket notebook fan and have at least one with me at all times. I usually carry three around with me stuffed into my fauxdori. After using the WritePads Lenore and acknowledging that I would like to use a fountain pen more regularly in my daily notetaking I have looked to carry a fountain pen-friendly pocket notebook around with me. I have recently picked up a passport size Midori Traveler’s Notebook plain refill, just to see how I feel about it, and I’ve invested in this gorgeous, bright yellow dot-grid pocket notebook, dot-grids being my favourite paper layout. The dots are a blue/grey, and the grid is a good size, a slightly larger grid than the last dot-grid pocket notebook I used which was the Baron Fig Explorer edition.
The card cover stock used for both notebooks has a great texture to it. It’s a whirly texture, reminiscent of the shape of fingerprints almost. I’ve tried to get a good photo of it, but it’s difficult! I also continue my love of yellow with this choice. The four other notebook colours on offer on Soumkine’s website are generally classy and subtle, including a deep blue and sage green, but I can never resist a splash of yellow, especially one as warm as this.
I was so excited to order and receive these two paper products and upon a thorough inspection, I’m not disappointed. If anything I’m even more excited to get using them! I love buying from independent brands and Soumkine really delivered a lovely personal touch. The notebooks themselves are even more gorgeous in real life than I thought they would be, with every detail considered, and initial fountain pen tests are very positive. I think I’ll be able to up my daily fountain pen use considerably with these in my bag, and be able to plan my time a little better too. I’m chuffed!
I heartily suggest you pop on over to Instagram and hit follow on Soumkine‘s page because it’s a feast for the eyes. You can find all the products I looked at on Soumkine’s website and I’ll be back soon to update on how I’m finding the notebooks (I’ve already had my colleague invest in some!).