From Paris With Love: Soumkine Notebooks

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.

Postcard from Paris

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.

Each notebook comes with a card showing its unique number and authenticity
Each notebook comes with a card showing its unique number and authenticity
Logo sticker and nameplate
Logo sticker and nameplate

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).

How stunning is this artwork?
How stunning is this artwork?

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.

My MTN setup with my Soumkine weekly planner in Smoke. I've left the belly band on because it's so gorgeous.
My MTN setup with my Soumkine weekly planner in Smoke. I’ve left the belly band on because it’s so gorgeous.

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.

Internal layout of the free-fill weekly planner
Internal layout of the free-fill weekly planner and an example of the hand-stitched binding that Soumkine use
Inside the A5 Slim Weekly Planner - space to fill in the month, year and date.
Inside the A5 Slim Weekly Planner – space to fill in the month, year and date, in a beautiful calligraphy typeface
Space for vital statistics and a glimpse of the internal cover in a shade of powdery blue
Space for vital statistics and a glimpse of the internal cover in a shade of powdery blue

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.

Bright yellow Soumkine notebook alongside some other yellow favourites
Bright yellow Soumkine notebook alongside some other yellow favourites. The colour of the notebook is “citrine” which means lemon yellow in French.

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.

Can you make out the texture on my yellow pocket notebook?
Can you make out the card stock texture?
The inside of the notebook, with bright yellow hand-stitching and a blue dot grid layout
The inside of the notebook, with bright yellow hand-stitching and a blue/grey dot grid layout

In summary

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!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *