winter stationery
Ideas

Winter Stationery

anatomy of winter stationery

Anatomy of a winter stationery scene

As we clear up after Storm Doris and the newspapers are full of winter weather bombs, it’s time to squeeze in a quick winter stationery blast from the colder recesses of our warehouse. Inspired by the obvious lead item – the Field Notes Black Ice edition was create with winter in mind – I assembled a collection of wintery themed stationery. Enjoy them all before the first green shoots arrive, spirng is upon us and everything goes green and yellow.

From Nordic Blue notebooks to Stormy Grey ink it might seem that there is a lot of winter stationery to choose from. In fact it proved very hard to find anything suitably themed around the idea of winter, especially if you try and avoid Christmas!

With help from Monica I did get there but it maybe says a lot about our aspirations that colours and products are notably leaning towards more hopeful seasons. Spring and summer obviously encourage positive thoughts and so people make and name their products and we duly buy them. Winter turns us off. That’s my theory anyway – here’s what I found in the meantime:

dot paper notebooks
Tips

Tips: 3 Reasons To Switch To Dot Paper

Have you ever wondered what the fuss about dot paper is about? As a dot paper convert of many years I thought I would share my feelings on dot paper and give my top 3 reasons to switch to dot paper. You should at least give this new-fangled paper style a go. You never know, it may even win you over and leave you wondering how you ever coped with lined or grid paper.

What is dot paper anyway?

First up, a quick explanation for anyone wondering what dot paper even is. If you imagine a sheet of paper with horizontal and vertical lines, and at the point each line crosses another you place a fine mark, or dot. Remove all the lines once you’re done and what you’re left with is a series of regular dots. In almost all cases this will be a dot every 5mm, forming a grid.

Dot paper

Top dot reason number 1 – It’s the best of all worlds

Have you ever wanted your cake and eaten it? Faced with a choice do you ever long to take both? Or all three? Dot paper is just that – it’s three papers rolled up in one.

I’ll assume that everyone know what lined or ruled paper is, and those regular horizontal lines are. Ideal for regular and repetitive writing, but just a bit annoying when you want to draw, or make a table, or stick something in your book.

dot paper is the best all all worlds

Grid paper is a bit more unusual but involves regular horizontal and vertical lines. I like grid paper but it makes for a lot of ink on the paper before you even started writing. The final result can be quite heavy and just too busy for my liking.

Plain paper is ideal for drawing or sketching, but with handwriting like mine you don’t want to be let loose on plain paper! My writing needs some guidance to keep it neat and tidy.

So faced with the need for a notebook that lets me write, create structures and draw I use dot paper. It really is the best of all three combined. The dots give enough of a framework to write neatly. They also allow me to make easy tables, and yet if I want to sketch something out they seem to fade into the background.

Top dot reason number 2 – It’s innovative

Maybe I shouldn’t be swayed by fanciful things like fashion and design, but there is a part of my mind that does like to seek out something new, something different. Not accepting the status-quo led us to paper and pens and notebooks in the first place, so dot paper is just one little step further in the advancement, and it’s a good one. So switch to dot because…well, just because it is there and (sort of) new and will make you feel like progress is happening. There is a reason why you will find all the top manufacturers including dot paper in their line up.

dot paper innovative stationery

Top dot reason number 3 – It’s Bullet Journal friendly

Without getting bogged down in what Bullet Journaling is (see the official website here), I am keen on adapting elements of keeping a Bullet Journal to suit your own needs and style. You can read my explanation on this here on a previous post. The point being that dot paper is ideal because it lends itself so well to keeping a Bullet Journal. From using the dots to create boxes for to-do lists, through to adding tables and charts and logs, the flexible nature of dot paper is perfect. That’s why the official Bullet Journal uses dot paper.

dot paper for bullet journaling

Conclusion

dot paper flowchart

Ultimately it comes down to finding the right paper for what you need and what you like, but I switched over some years back and have never gone back. From Rhodia to Leuchtturm I have been through many dot paper journals and look forward to many more yet. Try one if you haven’t and see for yourself.

Branded Bullet Journals
Corporate

Corporate: Branded Bullet Journals

Branded Bullet Journals

It is not often we highlight the corporate work we do here at Bureau, but we recently produced our first order for branded Bullet Journals, and they looked so good we wanted to find out a bit more about the story behind them.

Founded in 2013, the Balance Network is a government-funded research project looking at how digital technologies affect our work/life balance.  The pace of digital change is rapid and individuals cope differently; some struggle to adapt, feeling overwhelmed by constant connectivity.  For others, technology offers tools and solutions to manage an increasingly demanding lifestyle.

The Balance Network project wanted to send out a ‘thankyou’ to their many collaborators who have helped run events, workshops and activities since the project started.  They selected the official Bullet Journal in classic black, and we embossed the Balance Network logo on the front in silver foil.

Receiving an ‘analogue’ product might have seemed surprising to some of the Bullet Journal recipients, but we are finding premium stationery enjoying renewed demand in this digital age, as businesses and individuals see it as complementary to technology. Added to this, the methodology involved in Bullet Journaling has many parallels to digital apps for organising and note-taking, but the act of writing notes is quicker, more efficient and proven to be a better memory aid.  Small daily pleasures like using a nice pen on quality paper should not be underestimated.

For any Balance Network collaborators who hadn’t heard of Bullet Journalling (often abbreviated to BuJo), the official Leuchtturm Bullet Journal includes an introduction to the method and a key to symbols. There is a plenty of information online, with websites, blogs and posts devoted to the subject (including the official Bullet Journal website, and our own post about getting started here).  You can in fact use any notebook to BuJo (our favourites include Rhodia, Nuuna, Moleskine and of course Leuchtturm), and you can adapt the method to suit you.

You can visit the balance Network website to find out more about their research and sign up for regular news bulletins.  Dr. Rosie Robison, senior research fellow at Anglia Ruskin University and co-leader of the Balance Network project, talks about work/life balance in the digital age on The Digital Mindfulness Podcast here.

Like what you see?  If this has given you an idea for your company (or you didn’t know we could customise products), have a look at our dedicated corporate website www.bureaubusiness.co.uk, and get in touch!

News

News: The Bureau Shop Is Open

bureau shop - lamy

It's been several years coming...

There’s a long back story to this which we will skip over, and get straight to the big news that we have opened a shop. We started out with a shop way back in 1995, in the bright lights of the West End, so it’s sort of going back to our roots, but then it’s also a long way from Great Newport Street to Scrubs Lane.

It’s certainly not a high-street shop but you can come by, browse, test and buy. The focus of the shop is really around pens, books and inks. Somewhere you can come and test out different pens with different inks on different papers and work out what works for you.

the bureau shop

We took inspiration from our appearance at the London Pen Show last autumn where, with KWZ Ink, we let people test out all their inks and it created a real buzz. In our new shop you can test out pens from Lamy as well as J. Herbin, TWSBI and Kaweco.

Perhaps of most interest will be the range of inks, and with some very generous support from the good people at Diamine we can offer their full range of inks to play with, as well as other inks.

Throw in some great paper from Rhodia, Taroko and others and what the shop won’t offer in terms of size and high-street glamour it will make up for in terms of being able to actually try before you buy.

The shop does come with some big caveats around location and hours. It is open during our office hours only, and we cannot offer parking. There is street parking outside (metered), and it is not the most glamourous of locations but don’t let Scrubs Lane put you off. Cold industrial wasteland on the outside, warm and inviting on the inside.

Closest tube station is Willesden Junction (approx. 10-15 min walk) or the 220 bus stops right outside (Hythe Road stop).

Opening hours

Monday to Friday, 9.30 to 5.00

A big thank you to the following suppliers who have very generously supported this venture by providing samples:

Diamine Ink

KWZ Ink

Kaweco

Spot the difference between Lamy Turquoise and Pacific ink
News

What is the difference between Lamy Turquoise and Pacific?

Spot the difference between Lamy Turquoise and Pacific ink

It's here! First Lamy Special edition of 2017!!!

Lamy Pacific has just arrived. Pens do look stunning! This special edition does come with matching ink which comes as T10 cartridges form or T52 bottle.

We have quickly unpacked the delivery  – yes, I did scream a little 🙂 these are the highlights of my work day 🙂 and started testing. Pacific colour on the pens does impress. It is vibrant, bright turquoise. This edition has silver accents, so the clip and nib are both steel.

Ink cartridges are yet to come, but we did receive the bottles – excited to see them I posted the pictures on social media and people responded immediately with a question : what is the difference between Turquoise and Pacific ink?? I am happy to report the findings 🙂

Have a look for yourself 🙂

They do look almost identical, right?

We have reached out to Lamy and asked the question and they have confirmed that Pacific and Turquoise inks are indeed the same. Packaging is slightly different – Pacific gets the ‘special edition’ treatment 🙂

Q&A

Q&A: Paper Rulings Explained

paper rulings explained

What are the main types of paper?

You could spend all day covering every last detail of the different paper rulings that are available, but we have narrowed the choice down to five main paper styles. These are lined, plain, grid, dot and seyes. Many people will be familiar with the first two but maybe less so as the list goes on. The aim of this article is to summarise the main differences between the paper styles and hopefully better inform your choice.

paper rulings
The Big 5: Commonly found paper rulings

1 - Lined

Lined paper, also known as ruled, is the most common and also the most popular of all the choices of paper rulings. Lined paper is composed of regular horizontal rulings across the page.

What options are available? The most common choices you will find are the size of rulings  – that is the gap between the lines. Typically you will find this varies from 5mm – 8mm with 6mm being a fairly standard notebook ruling. It might seem a minor detail but the size will determine how much space you have to write in. Bigger handwriting needs bigger rulings.

You will also find that some lined paper has a margin – typically this will run vertically down the left-hand side of the page. This is useful if you annotate notes.

Advantages? Lined paper is the most popular of all paper styles and this is because it lends itself so well to writing neatly across the pages in lines.

Disadvantages? The page rulings are great for writing but can be an obstacle if you want to mix sketching and drawing in with your notes.

ruled paper
Ruled Paper (6mm)

2 - Plain

Plain paper is fairly self-explanatory – it is a blank page with no rulings at all. Often associated with drawing or sketching, plain notebooks are also suitable as an everyday notebook to write in. But beware as the lack of any rulings will make it harder to be consistently neat.

What options are available? There are not really any options with plain paper since by its very nature it is the most pared-back of all the paper styles.

Advantages? Plain paper is the most open of all paper styles and so it suits someone who is happy writing without any page structure at all. There is plenty of scope for drawing alongside your writing.

Disadvantages? The very same open style! Having no rulings or markings of any kind may not suit everybody as most people’s writing will drift messily across the page.

plain paper
Plain paper

3 - Grid

After lined and plain paper, you are moving into the world of more niche paper rulings. Grid, or graph, paper is still seen as a bit of an unusual style but it has been around for many years. It is also seen as a bit ‘continental’ since it is more popular in French and other European notebooks.

Quite simply, grid paper is made up of a series of regular horizontal and vertical lines, which intersect to create small squares.

What options are available? As with lined paper, the crucial difference is the size of the grid. Unlike with lined paper, there isn’t much choice here. You will find that almost all grid notebooks stick to a 5x5mm grid. Occasionally you may also find that grid paper has the option of a page-margin.

Advantages? Grid paper is the most structured of all paper styles and gives a fantastic framwork for writing and drawing, if that suits your way of working.

Disadvantages? The disadvantage of grid paper is that with so many lines, the page can become quite busy before you even start writing.

grid paper
Grid paper (5x5mm)

4 - Dot

Now this is where paper rulings become very modern. Dot paper, also known as dot-grid, is something of a more recent arrival to these shores and often confuses people. It is actually very straightforward and is proving extremely popular as it is a great all-rounder.

The dots come from the fact that at the intersection of where horizontal and vertical lines would be there is a small dot. There are no lines, just the dots at regular intervals. What it means is that dot paper has a grid-like structure but without the lines.

What options are available? There is little in the way of choice here – typically you will find that dot paper works off a 5x5mm grid, with the dots spaced 5mm apart horizontally and vertically.

Advantages? Dot paper has the advantage that the dots form a structure to write with but are feint enough. This means you can sketch and draw without the page structure getting in the way. Many people find that dot paper combines the best of lined, grid and plain paper.

Disadvantages? The disadvantage of dot paper is that it is neither one thing nor another – not structured enough to be lined or grid and yet too ‘dotty’ to be useful as plain paper.

Dot paper
Dot paper

5 - Seyes

Seyes paper (pronounced say-yez) is a uniquely French thing. In fact it is so specific that most people need not even consider it as an option but it is widely available on our website so we will cover it here.

Seyes has a very particular page layout of horizontal and vertical rulings, but in a seemingly irregular pattern. In fact it is a repeating series of narrow and wide rulings. The purpose of the paper is to help children learn to write. It is something that French children are very familiar with, hence the wide choice of Clairefontaine and Rhodia notebook with seyes paper.

What options are available? Because the paper is intended to be used for children of all ages, the rulings start very wide and progress to quite fine. There is a method to how the paper is used, and we will explain this in another post. However in summary it is about using the lines to form the different elements of letters.

Advantages? Er…not many. Seyes paper is something you specifically want and are looking for, in which the advantage is that it will be a unique layout designed for that purpose.

Disadvantages? The disadvantage is that if you are not familiar with seyes paper then it won’t be of much use since it is intended to serve a specific role in writing evenly.

seyes paper
Seyes paper (3mm Stage VI)
Incowrimo 2017 Letter
Ideas

Incowrimo 2017 – Writing Letters – Part 2

Incowrimo 2017 Letter

International Correspondence Writing Month. One a day. Every day. February. That's the tag line that got me interested last year 🙂 Are you ready to take on the challenge and put pen to paper?

You can read the first part of our series on Incowrimo 2017 here.

What to write always seems to be the hardest thing about Incowrimo. The good news is that it’s actually easier than you think. Reconnect with people – find something you have in common. Write about something nice 🙂 Be kind, ask questions, or just one 🙂 Keep it light.

I always mention pen and ink combo and then decorate remaining space with doodles, ink splats, stamps, washi tape, stickers, etc.

Plan your incowrimo – it’s perfectly fine to start with few quick thank you notes, postcards, Valentine’s card and slowly build up to letters.

Incrowrimo 2017 postcard ideas

In this second part of our letter writing series, we will be looking at paper and filling those envelopes.

My recommendation for a more sophisticated writing experience are the Original Crown Mill sets. Each box comes with enough stationery to get you through a month of incowrimo, easy.  The laid paper in these sets are the reason why this feels luxurious. Ordinary copier paper is no match for the ribbed texture here which looks and feels more personal. That is the tone we want for Incowrimo 🙂

The Crown Mill comes in two different sets. The gold box comes with cream coloured materials. Silver box contains white paper and envelopes.

Incowrimo 2017 letter on a desk

When I talk about writing letters I have to mention Triomphe. It is a brand of pads and envelopes by Clairefontaine – famous for its glassy smooth 90gsm bright white paper. These pads have plain paper in them and come with a ruled cheat sheet which will magically help you write in neat, straight lines. Simply genius 🙂 Envelopes are lined with white paper and the seal is diamond shaped which makes them perfect contestants for wax seals. They certainly do look classy and are fantastic value for money.

We had these pads reviewed by the wonderful Azizah on her blog. Have a look – there are some fantastic photos which will inspire you 🙂 Perfect incowrimo cue.

http://www.gourmetpens.com/2016/02/clairefontaine-triomphe-vs-original.html

My go-to is Rhodia R pad. Some may consider it as a budget option because it is just a pad. Don’t be fooled – it is gorgeous 90gsm buttery smooth ivory paper. We sell them in plain or lined paper. I pick lined over plain because when writing, I can anchor the letters to the lines and find it makes my handwriting look neater. Certain fountain pen inks ‘shine’ on ivory paper, others look great on bright white paper. My top 3 inks for ivory paper are KWZ Honey, Diamine Syrah and J Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre. Pages tear out easily, one by one, and it does look rather smart 🙂

Incowrimo 2017 letters with clips and washi tape

Last year we were part of Letters Live 2016 which was a spectacular event, defo check out www.letterslive.com for a spark of inspiration and get on incowrimo.org for further information.

Next week we’ll be helping you out with some ideas and creations we’ve been prepping for our own contribution to Incowrimo 2017 🙂 See you soon!

Incowrimo 2017 letters and ink
London Pen Show
News

KWZ Inks at London Pen Show 2016

London Pen Show

Hi folks,

It’s that time of the year again… First Sunday in October means two things: Marathon in my home town and the London Pen Show 😀
I went completely bonkers at my first visit two years back – had a great time, made lots of new friends and luckily my caddy was holding the wallet so I didn’t spend more than I wanted 😛

With help of few good friends Bureau Direct got two tables at The London Pen Show!

WOOHOO!

You probably know that my favourite ink  brand is KWZ because I brag about it a lot. Drumroll please – we have convinced KWZ Ink makers to come and introduce their brand. Shout out to Konrad & Agnieszka! They are bringing colour charts and a lot of inked pens, so everyone can try their liquid gold (I mean ‘honey’). We will bring some Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Tomoe River etc and of course KWZ Inks (please note that Bureau will not sell Iron Galls initially – I feel like we need to educate ourselves and others before we can sell IG. Spending some time with Konrad and learning everything from the master will be absolutely essential).

Okay, so now when I got that off my chest, lol let’s talk about what the show is like. Hopefully I will be able to convince people who live near by to go 🙂

Show is open from 10am till 4pm.

The address is:
Holiday Inn London – Bloomsbury
Coram Street, London WC1N 1HT
www.hilondonbloomsburyhotel.co.uk

Tickets are £5.00 for 10:00am entry.
£15.00 for early bird 09:00am entry.

Expect lot of collectors and vintage pens. Do you want to see Nakaya or Parker 51 in real life? This is your chance. (make sure to stop by Visconti and check out Homo Sapiens – lava material feels incredible in hand. No photo or  video does this pen the justice…) Vendors will often let you dip&try the pens, so it is a very hands on experience and you can ‘talk pens’ all day 😉

If you do want to get some work done with your fountain pens – John Sorowka is your man. Please bear in mind that his table is always busy and you may need to queue. Trust me, it is worth it.

You will get a wristband, so it’s perfectly OK to go out for a coffee/lunch and come back 🙂 The show is very busy, so travel light and bring some water. Take pen and paper too.

Making a shopping list is always a good idea – browsing is fun, but treasure hunt takes it to another level:)

Bring cash – not everyone takes card payments.

Looking for spare parts? Bladders, nibs, jewels…this is the perfect place to find those – bring your pens and loupe.

You can also get ink, notebooks, pen cases, books, stands and accessories.

And finally – don’t be shy to say hi! 🙂

I can’t believe we are going, this is going to be so much fun 🙂

See you at the pen show!

Mishka (^_~)

ps: you can find us at tables 16-17 which on the left after the first turn

head to head - leuchtturm vs rhodiarama
Review

Leuchtturm1917 vs Rhodiarama

head to head review - rhodiarama vs leuchtturm

Head to Head Dot Notebook Review: Leuchtturm1917 vs Rhodiarama

Introduction

This review has an extra personal edge because I was an avid fan of my Leuchtturm dot notebook, to the point of questioning why I would want to switch to another book, but when we got the Rhodiarama books in recently I was tempted – after all, they now came with dot-grid paper (a must for me) and also in that nice extra-large size meaning it was small enough to carry round but gave more page space to work. The only way to find out would be to switch books and test the new one out. It was then helped by my wife spilling wine on my Leuchtturm book, so the appeal of a nice clean book won me over.

I have been using the Rhodiarama for about a month now, having used the Leuchtturm for about four months prior to that.

Style

Both look quite similar – they both come in a range of colours making it hard to choose which one. The Rhodiarama edges it slightly with a nicer colour choice and I like the orange strap (part of the Rhodia branding) but others may prefer the Leuchtturm colour-coordinated look. The orange theme continues with the Rhodiarama to the inside-cover pages which adds a nice touch of quality though. Really not much to put between them here though.

Scores. Leuchtturm: 8/10. Rhodia: 9/10

head to head - leuchtturm vs rhodiarama

Features

This is where in my opinion the Leuchtturm really wins out. It has those features that can really make the difference. The big features it gives you are:

  • numbered pages
  • an index at the front, which makes it so easy to note down any page you want to refer to (important notes etc)
  • sticky labels (so you can archive the book afterwards)
  • two page-marker ribbons (on most books, not guaranteed)

Of course you can make your own index and page numbers but that’s just a hassle when it could be in the book already.

What both books do offer in common is:

  • at least one page-marker ribbon
  • ivory paper
  • 5x5mm dot-grid matrix pages
  • an inside pocket at the back.

The Leuchtturm is a hardback book, the Rhodiarama a soft-cover so this really comes down to what you prefer. The Rhodiarama is also a bigger book at 19x25cm so gives you more space (nb: it also comes in the same A5-ish size but I went for the larger one to compare). Finally, both are known for having good quality paper but the Rhodia book has the paper quality almost as its USP – regularly cited as the best quality paper and a must for fountain pen users.

Scores. Leuchtturm: 9/10. Rhodia: 7/10

Usability

There is no question that the Rhodia book has the nicer paper – just run your hand over it and you can feel how much smoother it is. There is no bleed or feathering, and although the Leuchtturm is still handles ink well it doesn’t do as well as the Rhodia. That said, if you’re not using a fountain pen this really isn’t that important. The Rhodia paper is still nicer to use but matters less with a ballpoint pen say. Where the Leuchtturm wins back points is with those features which make the book so much more practical to use.

Depending on whether you intend to work on the go or not, cover choice might be important here as well. The soft cover is nice and less of a bulky object to have on you, and it means the bigger Rhodia book isn’t any more of an issue to carry around in my bag, but the lack of a hard cover is an issue when trying to write on your lap for example.

Scores. Leuchtturm: 8/10. Rhodia: 8/10

bullet journal rhodia

Value for Money

Strictly speaking this isn’t a fair test on price as the Rhodia book is bigger. At £17.50 it weighs in more expensive than the £12.95 Leuchtturm book. I would say that the Rhodia is not nearly as good value as the Leuchtturm as it has less pages and costs more. Even allowing for the size difference this is still the case (the A5 Rhodiarama is £13.75, so 80p more). That said, the Rhodia book does have 90gsm paper so if paper quality is important then this might be a factor in the value but for me, it isn’t one of my top criteria.

Scores. Leuchtturm: 9/10. Rhodia: 7/10

Verdict

I wanted to prefer the Rhodiarama book, I really did. I thought it work better for me, it has a nicer look and feel, it seems more suited to being a book I carry everywhere but…it just doesn’t do enough to land that killer blow on the Leuchtturm book. Hard or soft cover, you take your choice but the page numbers and index are great when you have 200+ pages of notes and want to find an important note quickly. I am not looking for anything but good quality paper so the Rhodia doesn’t win points with me there and yet the Leuchtturm has so many extra features and it costs less. That said, if you are a fountain pen user who doesn’t value those extra features then the scores might well be closer and maybe even in favour of the Rhodia.

Total scores. Leuchtturm: 34/40. Rhodia: 31/40

Click here to see more and buy the Leuchtturm Medium Dot Notebook

Click here to see more and buy the Rhodiarama Soft Cover Ex-Large Dot Notebook

NB: Prices were correct at time of publishing!

Head to Head Review - Deskpads
Review

Rhodia Mouse Pad vs Paperways Desk Pad

Head to Head Review

Introduction

If you use a mouse on your desk, or even if you just want a notepad for memos and more, then this is review might be worth two minutes of your time. This pits two versions of the same idea – a notepad that sits on your desk and works as a mousepad as well as a notepad. Possibly one of the most useful additions you can have on your desk as they are practical for so many different uses – mousepad, notepad, doodle pad, organisation, to-do lists. I have used both of these at different times for many years now. With our focus for March being on Good Desk/Bad Desk it seems entirely appropriate to pit these two against each in a head-to-head review. France vs South Korea. The Rhodia Mousepad notepad vs the Paperways Hexagon Deskpad.

Style

Both pads are from top brands As always this comes down to personal preference. Rhodia are a big favourite of ours here and they can always be relied on to produce a simple, modern design. The pad is crisp and clean (again, the cover sheet gives way to a unfussy page layout). Rhodia draw on their orange and black branding, and it is used sparingly in this pad. I do have an issue with the design though on two fronts – I feel the orange page header is a shame as it uses up valuable space (more on that later), but worse is the addition of their web address on each page. It is both a distraction and also a bugbear of mine to sell a product that promotes someone else’s website!

I am a great fan of Paperways and have often picked out their products to use personally. They have a clean modern design, simple and smart yet done with just a little dash of quirkiness – it could be an image or a playful use of words. In this case they throw a curveball by using one of their very unusual paper-styles – the lesser known hexagon. The pad is pleasing to the eye, and it has their little airplane logo (on the cover sheet only) which I am quite fond of. This pad is a nice shade of yellow, with accent details in red and grey. All in all, a very nicely packaged deskpad.

Scores. Rhodia: 6/10. Paperways: 10/10

Rhodia Mousepad Notepad

Features

Both pads work on the same principle – a notepad that you simply tear off the top sheet once you’re done with it, leaving you with a clean sheet to use. Both are glued along two edges (Rhodia on the left and bottom edge, Paperways on the left and top edges). The pads come with minimal sheets, for a good reason – when it sits on your desk and you use it as a mousepad, the thickness actually becomes an issue. It also can become a bit ragged as the pad sheets are torn off so more isn’t necessarily a good thing. Both come with a card backing as well.

The Rhodia pad has two very good design features that Paperways could heed. Firstly, it has rounded corners. Only slightly but it does mean they are less prone to catching on your arm as you work. Secondly, being glued along the bottom edge is a good idea as again it makes it more robust to daily catching (your arm generally catches the pad on the bottom edge you’ll find). I also think that having less sheets is a good thing as it makes it less of an obstacle on your desk. The card backing is quite thin but makes up for that by having a soft grip-like feel which means it is much harder for it to slip on the desk surface. Finally, no review of Rhodia could not mention the paper  – for those not familiar with it, Rhodia paper is renowned for its quality. The crisp white paper is super smooth and takes both ballpen and fountain pen equally well, as well as pencils.

The Paperways pad has more sheets (actually a 1/2 mark off in my book) and doesn’t have the same thought applied to the details as the Rhodia pad does. What it does have though is a pleasing simple layout, with a simple page division that gives you enough of a structure to use it for something specific (maybe use each block for a different purpose?). The card backing gives it a more rigid feel than the Rhodia, but overall it does suffer from the little details.

Scores. Rhodia: 9/10. Paperways: 6.5/10

Stats Corner

[table caption=”Stats Central” width=”500″ colwidth=”150|150″ colalign=”left|center|right”]
Rhodia,Feature,Paperways
30,sheets,50
5x5mm grid,paper style,5mm hexagons
80gsm,paper weight,not specified
22.9 x 19cm,size,29.7 x 21cm
116g,weight,327g
£3.50,price,£9.50
[/table]

Usability

The Rhodia pad is on the small side. Now this could be an advantage to someone else (maybe you have a small desk?) but I find it a bit cramped, not helped by space being given over to the orange header and the web address. That said, there is still enough space to make lots of notes, but it has a feel of a pad more suited to random notes and memos. There is limited space and I also am not a big fan of grid paper as it makes for a heavy, and grey lines on white add to this problem. Still, once you put pen to paper the Rhodia pad is a pleasure to use – smooth paper that any pen will glide across.

The Paperways has that extra space that a full sheet of A4 gives, meaning you can often keep the sheet going for a full week. In fact they have other versions that have a weekly diary layout for just that purpose. I like the layout and will enjoy using this pad but the paper is a letdown – it is perfectly good but not nearly as smooth as the Rhodia paper and so it just doesn’t have that extra bit of enjoyment. Heavy ink pen use might also cause bleed which is a real no-no since it will start to affect the next sheet.

Scores. Rhodia: 7/10. Paperways: 8/10

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Value for money

It’s hard to define value for money. The Rhodia pad works out at 12p/sheet whilst the Paperways does come in at 19p/sheet, but then if you factor in page size there is much less of a difference. The likelihood is that the Rhodia pad will be a bit more cost-effective (I did work it out down to page size and there is maybe a 10% difference in price based on how much paper you get). Both are clearly more expensive than a standard notepad but then they serve a very different purpose.

Scores. Rhodia: 8/10. Paperways: 7/10

Verdict

It’s funny because I was convinced that the Paperways pad would come out on top and by a clear margin. After all, I switched from the Rhodia pad to the Paperways pad myself some years back and I’m very happy with my choice. However, once you start looking at the pads in detail, and what really goes into making the small differences, then the scores start to add up unexpectedly. The Rhodia pad has a lot going for it. It’s just that…maybe I like the Paperways because of style over substance but it wins my vote because of the extra space and the clean useable design. I am a fan of Rhodia notepads but I feel this pad just lacks something – it is just too cluttered with details and the grid layout. Now if they made a dot-grid version…

Total scores. Rhodia: 30/40. Paperways: 31.5/40

Click here to see more and buy the Rhodia Mousepad Notepad

Click here to see more and buy the Paperways Hexagon Deskpad