Mary Ellen Mark, the American photojournalist, is one of many artists and writers whose Moleskine notebooks are documented in The Detour Book.

The book catalogues 250 different artists and how they utilize Moleskines, those ubiquitous black notebooks popular with Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway.

The book was published in November, but it draws on six years of notebooks collected by Moleskine’s travelling exhibition.

Taking the form--of course--of an iconic Moleskine, the book takes a look at how versatile the notebooks are.

A page from the book of Christian Lacroix, who uses the books to catalog interesting prints and images.

The cellist Giovanni Sollima made these notes. He’s one of the many artists who use Moleskines as ad hoc scrapbooks.

Notes from British director Mike Figgis’s personal diary.

A sketch from the book of filmmaker Spike Jonze.

Another page scanned from Mary Ellen Mark’s book.

Toyo Ito’s sketches show a Thing-like building growing from the swamp.


10 Moleskine Journals From Some Of The Most Interesting Creatives Alive

A new book from Moleskine collects the intimate notes and drawings of 250 artists and writers, ranging from Sigur Ros to Toyo Ito.

Despite the ever-encroaching digital world, the popularity of Moleskine, those utterly dignified black notebooks that can be carried in your pocket, seems to only have increased. The many 20th-century cultural heroes who carried Moleskines, from Oscar Wilde to Pablo Picasso, have lent the brand an aura of creative genius.

But this winter, Moleskine is bolstering its 21st-century cred with the publication of The Detour Book, a collection of the creative journals of present-day artists, designers, and writers. Noted by Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova last week, The Detour Book sounds like one of those tomes that deserves to be poured over:

Scattered across the pages of The Detour Book are the images of over 250 notebooks decorated, hacked, and filled with intimate sketches and drawings by some of the world’s most celebrated creative professionals; among them architects, designers, film directors and musicians including Spike Jonze, Sigur Ros, Mary Ellen Mark and Karim Rashid, to name a few.

There are funny little cartoons from Dave Eggers and brilliant sketches from Toyo Ito, which show the Mikimoto building taking over Ginza. Each book is its own unique archive, preserving the struggle to bring a spark of an idea to fruition.

What’s interesting about the collection is that most people don’t use Moleskines as traditional sketchbooks at all. Instead, designers like Tord Boontje have used them as 3-D objects, slicing through their eggshell pages and hacking them into study models. ATELYE 70, the Turkish architecture studio, turned the fold-out pages of a Moleskine Pocket Accordion into an actual architectural model, inserting plexiglass staircases and scale models between the folds.

The Detour Book is one of those rare pieces of marketing that rewards a company and the consumer equally. It’s marvelously fun reading. And who can blame Moleskine for being proud? Buy it here.

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  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling

    I enjoy collecting beautiful notebooks. Sometimes I will buy a few, one to write, one to keep and one to give away. It is a joy to write on a beautiful notebook. Hunting for beautiful notebooks to add to my collection is also fun:)

    Mary Ng Shwu Ling

  • Joe Nicklo

    I prefer the $5 sketchbook I got at my local art store. Better paper feel, more sheets,  slightly larger size. The only thing my $5 sketchbook doesnt have that the moleskines do is the silly little elastic band...

  • Thatmanstu

    I have several as well as a few Mom and Pop versions. The difference is clear.Durability,texture,feel.....I also tried to write,draw etc. on the money I saved. It was a poor surface and lacked open space.  

  • Joe Nicklo

    Change the article name to "The most overpriced notebooks belonging to some of the most interesting creatives alive". 

    I'm ashamed that I've purchased a Moleskine for $18 just because I wanted to see what all of the hype was about when I could've easily purchased a sketchbook from a local Mom & Pop Art store for 1/3 of the price......shame on me for being tricked into following a trend.