The Ogami notebook makes a strong first impression, in more ways than one. Visually, it makes a great first impression: it comes in nice colors, including this gorgeous turquoise, and the design is sharp and clean and appealing. And it’s Italian! You had me at “millimetri.” But there is also a rather negative first impression when you first unwrap the notebook and get a whiff of its very strong chemical odor, which to me had a pungency not unlike wasabi. Whew! When I first bought this notebook and played around with it a bit, I thought “I like this a lot, but I could never use it because of the smell!”
Luckily, I always seem to have a long backlog of notebooks to be reviewed, so I put this one away for over a year before taking it out to test and photograph. When I did, I got a happy surprise: no more odor! So now let’s take a look at all the other things there are to love about this notebook.
It comes with a removable vellum band around it, which has the usual branding info. I tend to like plain covers, but the metallic stamped “Ogami Professional 90 x 140 Millimetri” logo on the actual cover is cute. The binding of this notebook is a bit different from most, as it has stiff board on the front and back cover, but they aren’t wrapped in the usual way, just covered with the smooth turquoise paper, which has a soft, pleasing texture.
The spine is designed to open flat, but due to a thicker layer of glue on the sewn signatures, it doesn’t open completely flat. The size overall is a bit smaller and thinner than a pocket Moleskine.
Inside, the endpapers have an elegant diamond pattern on them, with a space for your contact info in the front and some more branding info in the back. There is an elastic closure, but no ribbon marker or back pocket. The elastic is a bit tight, but this means it can be tucked tidily away around the back cover. The overall feel is of good quality.
As for the paper inside, the Ogami’s claim to fame is that it’s the “first notebook made from stone.” The paper is called Repap. It’s made from calcium carbonate found in limestone and construction materials using processes said to be more environmentally friendly than those used for traditional paper. The result is a lovely smooth bright white paper that feels wonderful to write on. If you use fine point gel ink pens or pencil, you will love this paper. Other pens work well too, and the paper delivers tight, dark black lines with many types of pens that can look greyish on other papers. There are a few quirks, though– fountain pens work great, but the drying times can be extremely long so you really have to be careful about smearing. My Super Sharpie did this weird thing where it looked as though I’d written over letters already there in a thin line, as though the ink concentrated itself in the middle of the stroke after spreading out a bit. Show-through is about average or maybe a little worse than average, but this paper is amazing on bleed-through– even the Super Sharpie didn’t bleed through. I suspect this paper may share some of the same materials as the show- and bleed-proof Rendr sketchbooks I reviewed, which also had a strong smell. The Rendr paper is much better on show-through, but the Ogami paper has a superior color and texture.
I don’t remember where I bought my Ogami notebook, but you can find them online at Amazon, JetPens, and Jenni Bick, among other places. In NYC, I’ve seen them in stores such as A. I. Friedman and Paper Presentation. They also offer a stitched single signature jotter version and a wire-bound style, and come in white, turquoise, grey, and black colors, as well as a multi-colored “quotes” design, and a range of sizes. Check the measurements carefully when you order, as I’ve seen this 3.5 x 5.5″ size described as both “mini” and “small,” but 5 x 8″ versions are also sometimes referred to as “small.” Prices are usually on the high side, but not out of line vs. other notebooks that are made in Europe vs. China.