HAPPENINGText: Samantha Culp

It’s just a little black notebook. But because of its pocket-size, iconic elastic strap and illustrious history, the Moleskine has become the Platonic Ideal of little black notebooks. Used by Vincent Van Gogh for sketches, Ernest Hemingway for prose and Bruce Chatwin for travel notes, the Moleskine notebooks have been the favorite for creative minds for nearly two centuries. To continue this tradition, Hong Kong-based design studio Working Unit recently collaborated with Page One Bookshop and East Touch Magazine to launch the “My Moleskine” Project.

Starting in autumn of 2004, more than thirty creative professionals from Hong Kong and beyond were invited to fill a Moleskine of their choice with anything they liked, and return the notebooks by spring of 2005. On April 30th the results were presented to the public in an exhibition at the newly-renovated Page One Bookshop in Causeway Bay – in a uniquely hands-on fashion.

Each notebook was displayed in a clear plastic box with an opening for the audience to reach through and turn the pages (wearing gloves so as not to damage the artworks). After the opening ceremony, which featured special guest local indie rock star Anthony Wong Yiu-Ming, the aisles of Page One quickly filled with spectators, eager to flip through the eclectic array of Moleskines.

Because of the diverse backgrounds of the participants (writers, painters, graphic designers, musicians, photographer and architects) as well as their global provenances (Singapore, Sweden and Japan besides Hong Kong), each notebook showcased distinctive styles and content. From the cute drawings of comic artist Chi Hoi to the Southeast Asian newspaper collages by illustrator Tak, a range of personal visions emerged from the same little black notebooks. Some contributors even deconstructed and re-fashioned their notebooks completely, one memorable example being the Moleskine-turned-music box, complete with crank wheel and hole-punched strip of paper (unfortunately the music box did not actually function).

Arnault Castel, whose Working Unit design studio organized “My Moleskine”, said that the project is focused more on the creative process than completed works. Through gently leafing through each creator’s notebook, the audience can explore the individual nature of creativity-watching ideas grow, page by page.

My Moleskine Project
Date: April 30th – June 5th, 2005
Place: Page One Bookshop
Address: 9F Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Text: Samantha Culp
Photos: Samantha Culp

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Stephen Cheetham