Monday, January 25, 2021

RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS

RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
As a reviewer, I wholeheartedly believe in second chances. I may or may not have already talked about this in the past, but I really appreciate when brands put in the effort to improve their product. Frankly, I may even find it more promising and reassuring than having a brand create an inoffensive - though middle-of-the-road - product, and then calling it a day. If you fail once, but stand back up and show dedication to improving - that's a win in my book! 

And that's exactly how we end up at Kunisawa today. If you remember my first encounter (review HERE) with this young Japanese stationery brand, their immaculate, business-chic design language created very high expectations... only to ultimately be let down by the terribly inconsistent paper quality. So sad.

RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
BUT! Kunisawa took the communities' criticism by heart and promised something better! A few months later, the first indication of their 'something better' arrived on my doorstep, in the form of a new paper prototype: a simple, thin 'cahier'-style notebook with a design that had nothing to do with the Kunisawa products I tested earlier, but the most important part was, of course, the new paper inside. I tested the prototype (didn't review it, as it was not a product intended for retail), and relayed my findings back to Kunisawa. 

Onto present day, and I'm looking at a stack of the updated 'Find' notebooks Kunisawa recently sent me. 'Find', of course being the unifying Moniker of every product sold under the Kunisawa brand. How I understand it, Kunisawa is part of a larger company Kawachiya Printing & Stationery, and represents the more business-styled side of the product catalog.

RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
The contrast between Kunisawa and Pont Neuf couldn't possibly be any bigger!
I fell in love with Kunisawa's distinct, clean and sober styling back in early 2019, and I'm glad it hasn't changed yet. You'll still find an overall quite muted and darker color palette among the offerings, with tasteful copper accents. In a way that only Japanese stationery can pull off, Kunisawa products are very simple in design and functionality, yet they always exude pure quality. In contrast to the Kunisawa products, the Kawachiya brand also houses a second brand: Pont Neuf. And if I say contrast, these two brands literally couldn't be any further apart. I'll be discussing Pont Neuf separately in a future post, as the products definitely cater to an entirely different audience, to say the very least!
RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
All-black everything
Back to the Kunisawa products at hand. As I said, design changes on the outside are very subtle, but there are a few small details here and there: There's now an all-black colorway with black gilded edges and accents - very cool and extra sleek! A larger, ring-bound 'Find Executive' notebook (more or less B5-sized, 80 sheets) was added to the lineup, the sticky notes (also 80 sheets) are now square-shaped and feature a very interesting recycled paper (more on that later). Oh, and the A5 Find 'Hard' note (a traditional A5 with a semi-hard cover, 96 sheets) now comes packaged in a box for some odd reason.
RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
But enough about the outside, because I was of course dying to find out if they managed to change the inside of their notebooks: the paper! I conducted some randomized tests throughout the different notebooks, and these are my findings...
RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
The paper is exceptionally smooth. It's MUCH smoother than the old watermarked 'Foolscap' paper, much smoother than Rhodia's vellum stock, much smoother than even most Life paper, yet the latter certainly comes closest. The smoothness makes it feels like a strongly coated paper, yet for some strange reason, it doesn't feel too coated or slick when you write on it, retaining just the right amount of texture - it's very strange and difficult to explain. In any case, I like writing on it, and it doesn't even seem to be too bothered by oils from your hand (Even though that's something smoother paper types often struggle with!).
RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
Shading and sheen are strong, even when compared to the reigning champion, Tomoe River. It's very difficult to get the paper to show any bleedthrough, despite throwing ink swatches and very wet and wide nibs at it. Even show through (or ghosting) is very well-contained.

RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
Yes, that's perfect sheen and shading, on a sticky note!

So, what about those sticky notes then? I obviously went 'oh no!' when I saw the recycled paper inside. However, to my biggest surprise, even this paper performed excellently in my writing test! No bleedthrough, no feathering, even the shading, and sheen can perfectly live up to the performance of the rest of the Kunisawa lineup! I don't know what sorcery they used for this, but clearly, it works very well!

The paper is downright excellent, and most of all, it's excellent all across the board. Every product, from the new Executive ring notebook, down to even the recycled paper sticky notes, showcased excellent paper, the kind of paper I'd expect when I crack open a notebook from Japanese manufacture.

RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
I'm very happy to see Kunisawa make a strong return. I was already hooked on their design style, and the paper quality on the inside can now match the luxurious looks on the outside! Whereas the mixed results with the old paper made it hard to draw a general conclusion last time, it's now much easier to come up with a bottom line: these notebooks are very, very good. 

Considering the more 'premium' style of the Kunisiwa brand, I'd say their pricing isn't that excessive (the Find sticky memo, Find Executive Ring note, and Find Note Hard notebook are priced at 6€/ 7$, 12€/ 14.5$, and 24€/ 29$, respectively), though they certainly land on the pricier side once you account for the costs of importing from Japan. With the quality I'm seeing today, that easily earns Kunisawa a recommendation from my end!

Note: The products shown here were provided by Kunisawa, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affiliate links.

RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS
RE-REVIEW: KUNISAWA FIND NOTEBOOKS

Saturday, January 23, 2021

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT: PARKER IM MONOCHROMATIC GIVEAWAY

That's a wrap on the Parker IM Monochromatic (review HERE) writing set giveaway! Thanks again to Parker, for providing the pens in this giveaway! Now the question remains: who will take home a full set of Parker IM Monochromatic pens (fountain pen, ballpoint, and rollerball) in the sleek all-black colorway? Find out below...

The winner, as chosen by the Random number generator: 

Michael Henry
(@detailedsd)


Thanks again for all the support, and thanks for entering the giveaway! Didn't win this time, or missed out on the giveaway? Don't worry, there will of course be more giveaways in the future! Always stay up-to-date on current giveaways and new blog posts by following The Pencilcase Blog on INSTAGRAMTWITTERFACEBOOK or subscribe to the NEWSLETTER!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN

REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN

In my first post of 2021 - 2020's year roundup of my favorite products - I highlighted Tibaldi as one of my favorite discoveries that entered the playing field. The pens I've tried from them so far (The Perfecta I reviewed HERE, and the N.60 I reviewed HERE) have demonstrated their ability to create modern, fresh designs that still hold a strong tie with their vintage predecessors.

When I first saw product shots for their latest pen, the Tibaldi Bononia, I was very excited to get my hands on one. Although not so much for their characterful vintage reimagination, but instead for the fantastic material they put front and center with this release. My thanks go out to Tibaldi for sending this pen my way to check out!
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
Left the Leonardo Furore, right the Tibaldi Bononia
The Bononia is, once again, based on a pen from one of Tibaldi's previous lifetimes, and resemblance with the original Bononia from the '90s is indeed striking. While the Bononia (which is Latin for Bologna) follows a vintage design language - especially with the triple decorative cap bands - it doesn't quite have the same distinct, and old-school looks that set the Perfecta or N.60 apart. The streamlined torpedo shape of the Bononia isn't too uncommon to see from other brands (notably, its closest competitor, the Leonardo Furore!), but that doesn't make it any less of a good-looking pen of course. With fairly little decoration, the trim on the cap edge and the tie-shaped clip are the only elements that take your eye away from the main focus of this pen: the material!
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
Tibaldi chose two 'spaghetti resin' colorways that I hadn't seen before, and they're just absolutely stunning. This Martini Olive green is probably my absolute favorite of the spaghetti resins I've seen so far, even topping the - also stunning - Hawaii resins. The material is dark and subtle for the most part, with slices of bright, pearlescent green and white and some almost brown-ish hues. I'd even dare to say that the stark contrast, especially with the black acrylic layers in between the strips of green, actually comes very close to Arco celluloid. 

On the other hand, the red Seashell Mist (the name really doesn't match the material IMHO) is vibrant and bright, with an almost candy-like appearance! There's also a simple black resin version - which does align well with Tibaldi's business-chic style - but I wouldn't say it's the color I'd choose here (and that's coming from someone who does tend to more subtle color palettes!). 
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
The Tibaldi branding is engraved in a large, modern font above the cap bands. The engravings don't really stand out or distract from the overall clean looks of the pen.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
The tie-shaped clip that we already saw on the N.60, makes a return on the Bononia. While I quite enjoy the design of the clip, functionality isn't its strong suit - as was the case on the N.60. It just sits too close against the cap to actually slide something underneath, instead, the tip of the clip will just catch on whatever fabric you'll try to attach it to (unless, perhaps, the fabric is very thin). If they made the clip a bit less low-profile, that would probably make a world of difference in terms of usability.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
L to R: Edison Collier, Montblanc 149, Leonardo Furore, Tibaldi Bononia, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
Just like the Tibaldi N.60, the Bononia has all the elements to make a comfortable writer. It's a large pen on the outside. With its 14.6 cm/ 5.75" (capped), it sticks out above the Leonardo Furore and Montblanc 149 by just a few mm. While comfortable in size for my hand, the uncapped Bononia is surprisingly not quite as large as the closed dimensions might suggest, at a fairly average 12.9 cm/ 5.06". 

The design of the Bononia allows for a section that transitions almost seamlessly into the barrel, with only the threads in the way of your grip. The edge of the threads is slightly noticeable, but the threads themselves are shallow and disappear in your grip. The section itself is short but has a comfortable shape and diameter. It tapers down subtly from a generous 12.3 mm to 11.5 mm, before flaring out slightly. The Bononia is a fairly lightweight pen, just 24g in total, due to the all-acrylic construction. The metal threads of the section don't add any perceptible weight but do shift the balance slightly towards the front. The cap posts fairly well and transforms it into a large but not particularly unwieldy pen.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
Build quality has been excellent on all Tibaldi pens I've tried so far, and the Bononia is no different. The entire pen feels solid and robust, fit and finish are top-notch, the cap lip is nicely rounded off, threads are smooth, etc. In this price range, there are competitors that come with more intriguing filling systems, but frankly, I have very little against the practicality of a simple cartridge/converter-filled pen like this. 
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
The first two Tibaldi's I tried, were both quite capable writers, so that set the bar rather high. This time, I went for the BB nib (steel) on the Bononia, since that's a size you don't often come across as a stock offering. While the ebonite feed is once again a perfectly capable piece of the puzzle, the nib itself unfortunately didn't blow me away. The tines needed some realignment, as it wrote rather scratchy out of the box. Alignment issues aside, I was most disappointed by the line width, which isn't noticeably wider than any regular western broad nib. 
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN
I continue to appreciate what Tibaldi is doing, faithfully reincarnating pens from their rich company history. Even though the Bononia is perhaps a bit less distinctive or recognizable (compared to the Tibaldis I previously tested) it easily manages to captivate with two stunning material options, and an overall sleek and comfortable design with a vintage flair. Tibaldi has proven by now that they know how to present a very well made and smart-looking pen, which makes it all the more unfortunate that the nib on this particular pen didn't manage to live up to the expectation. 

At 195€ (at our site sponsor Casa Della Stilografica), the Bononia hovers around the same price as the Tibaldi Perfecta and N.60, and comparable offerings from other Italian brands like Leonardo or Maiora.

Note: This product was provided by Tibaldi, so I could write this review. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affiliate links.
REVIEW: TIBALDI BONONIA FOUNTAIN PEN