Yubokumin is the second (and more challenging) project we discussed with Nanala Design when we met them in November 2019 in their workshop near Okayama. The objective was no less than to to design a new notebook system together.
We’d been informally working on the concept since early 2018. Nanala owner Kato-san loves a (leather craft) challenge and immediately came up with a number of suggestions. There’s more to designing a notebook than meets the eye, we've put hours of thought and discussions with Kato-san to get this design just right.
Our new notebook system is designed to be a travel wallet/notebook cover, with no compromise when it comes to materials, functionality or (unfortunately) price.
We decided to call the new cover the “Yubokumin” (literally "nomad", “traveller” or “explorer” in Japanese). Once again, the design of the new notebook system is based on our way of life (keywords: travel, stationery, culture, business, planning, etc.) and the strict standards we have established at Nomado Store.
We needed a new notebook cover that was:
- Handcrafted in Japan: after working for the past four years with Japanese craftsmen, we find it hard to work with Western ones, with a few exceptions.
- Made of high quality leather. Nanala use the same Himeji leather as for the TN insert. This very high quality material is strong and supple, but robust and has an interesting lightly textured finish which gives it an organic feel. We will also be releasing limited editions in other colours in 2020 and black Himeji leather (inside pockets in natural) is already available to order and will be offered as standard from January 2020.
- Very practical without being over-the-top (i.e. sufficient pockets & slots). Since this was to be a travel wallet/notebook cover, we decided to fit it with a generous number of card slots, ticket side pockets and a pouch for coins or other smaller items that have to be kept safe. Nanala fits a slim profile popper to the flap to reduce bulk (as used on our new TN insert).
- Simple to use. We decided that the notebook had to allow the user to add or remove refills easily. We initially wanted to use a leather cord, but they are usually too thick to be practical. We then specified the use of a tough elastic for this, attached through robust but discreet brass eyelets for better wear resistance. The cover will easily take 3 notebook refills and probably more if you add elastics.
- Compatible with regular TN & Jibun Techo refills, but possibly slightly larger (we find them a bit too narrow). We’ve had a large number of customer requests for a slim A5/regular TN size notebook cover. The final design is the same height (220mm) but slightly wider (145mm closed) and we will be offering our own range of notebook inserts and specialised refills in this wider format at some point in 2020. This size is still more compact than A5.
- A simple system to keep it closed but easy to open (not fiddly). One of Nanala’s most iconic creations is the handmade leather concho based on the sunflower motif. Entirely handmade from leather and brass, these beautiful conchos make it easy to attach or remove the outer elastic band, which keeps the cover closed. The elastic is not attached to the cover, to avoid it getting in the way when the cover lies flat. We recommend attaching it vertically. The conchos are available in a wide variety of colours.
Crafting these covers perfectly takes time and Kato-san can only produce a limited number of them on a monthly basis, please be patient, it will be worth the wait! Product page here.
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