For the last 5 months of 2016 I was on the road, in the air, on planes, trains, underground trains, cars and mostly living out of a lightweight suitcase + a backpack + a crossbody travel bag. So I had to minimise my favourite things into portable Every Day Carry (EDC) options; those which would take the least amount of room, be highly functional, be minimalistic but still give me pleasure. When travelling, especially long-term, the key-words are Minamalism + Functional. I would add my personal motto of Yo-No-Bi: Simplicity, Function, Beauty.
This principle is known as yo-no-bi. Common among the older generation of craftsmen in Japan, yo-no-bi consists of two kanji, yo (用) which means use or application, and bi (美) which means beauty. Together they aim to balance the aesthetic and the functional – not only must a technique/item be functional, but it must be pleasing to the eye.
So here I’ve summed up my Favourite On-The-Go EDC things, all true to the principle of Yo-No-Bi, that I ended up carrying with me all over Australia/Hong Kong/UK/Greece for the last half of 2016.
I have always been obsessed with pens, notebooks, and basically stationery of any and all kinds. The drawers in my roll top desk are filled with notebooks, beautiful paper and all kinds of writing and sketching tools. I am also an avid journaler and always on the lookout for a beautiful new journal to add to my collection. Over the last few months though I have stumbled down a whole new twisty rabbit hole: Traveler’s Notebooks.
Traveler’s Notebooks are a binder system that holds together multiple notebooks. The original brand of Traveler’s Notebooks are the Japanese brand of Midori. These are leather covers with an ingenious elasticated string system that holds together multiple notebooks.
The genius concept of the Traveler’s Notebooks are that they are rugged, minimalist, fully customisable – as to how you use them and they are the perfect travelling/desk/handbag/rucksack accessory. With a Traveler’s Notebook I can have multiple notebooks kept together in a hardy and durable cover. I always like to have a notebook or three handy at all times, because thoughts and ideas flutter in and out usually during the most mundane moments in life. With a TN I can catch those thoughts before they fly past into the Neverland of forgotten memories. There is also something to be said for the tangible beauty of a leather Traveler’s Notebook.
The Midori-style notebook has become so popular that it has inspired many other suppliers and artisans to create their own versions inspired by these Traveler’s Notebooks. Traditionally the Traveler’s notebooks are notebook covers that are made from supple leather and come in a cheque-book-wallet size *Regular/Standard Size* and a Passport size.
These other Traveler’s notebooks, made by independent artisans, come in a smorgasbord of materials from leather to material to paper. They also come in a variety of sizes from small pocket sizes to large art journal sizes. There is the perfect notebook for everyone’s needs.
I stumbled down this rabbit hole a few months ago and am still to come up for air. At first I wanted to get myself the traditional Midori Traveler’s notebooks (TN) but the Midori TN I wanted was temporarily out of stock.
So I then I started looking at the various alternate Traveler’s notebooks made and I was wowed. After stalking quite a few Instagram hashtags and YouTube videos, I settled on Chic Sparrow. Then it was a case of narrowing my focus down to which size I wanted and which leather/colour/texture I wanted. Although a lot of people use their TNs for planning/scheduling, I knew I wanted to use mine for journaling and for note-taking, perhaps even sketching. I also knew I preferred a leather that was thicker, firm but still supple and flexible and a leather that was rich in texture. I also wanted a TN that was personalised to me.
I ended up stalking the Chic Sparrow website daily for a few weeks. Chic Sparrow is so popular that they often sell out within a few hours each day. Eventually the leather I wanted in the size I wanted was finally available. *I got a Narrow size with overhang – the actual cover is slightly wider than the inserted notebooks/inserts.* I ended up choosing the Distressed CremeBrûlée Deluxe* (*Deluxe is a TN that comes with stitched in pockets/pen loop and is finished off externally with a beautiful stitching border.) I chose my personalisations and hit order. Then I waited. Nine days later my Chic Sparrow package arrived…
I was thrilled to see/feel the variations/texture in this gorgeous distressed leather. There is something very special to me about a distressed leather. One of my favourite parts of my TN is the deep natural “imperfectly perfect” scar on the back secretarial pocket. It shows a life well lived by this cow. It also reminds me that the page can always safely store both my scars and my joys. Catching my daily thoughts in this beautiful Traveler’s Notebook fills me with joy and fresh inspiration.
Again…this is keeping me true to my new mantra: Yo no Bi ~ Beauty through Use…Use through Beauty.
My next Traveller’s Notebook is going to be a limited edition Original Midori. I have waited to get the traditional Midori Traveler’s Notebook in a limited Blue leather edition: this one will capture my actual travels, adventures and road trips. But more on this blue-beauty when it arrives…
Tell me, how do you catch all your thoughts/ideas?
Are you a note-taker?