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

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for a great review! Your ink swabs and writing really show how this paper functions. I appreciate that. I'd love to buy some; I went to their website and sent them an email stating my interest, as they suggested. If you know of a quicker route, I'd sure like to know.

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    1. Thanks for reading! The ink swabs are in many cases probably not representative of real-world usage, but they do make for a great 'stress test' (and it's also easier to compare shading and sheen off of them)! Kawachiy has their own online store, but I've asked and they have already been distributing the new paper to their retailers worldwide. The problem is to know whether what you buy is old or new paper, since there could still be retailers that have old stock. Best guess would be to ask Kunisawa or the retailers directly for a confirmation that what you are buying is indeed the new paper!

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