Sunday, October 11, 2009

Review: RevolveR Little Blue Journal

In early October I had the chance to meet Ellen Dudley, one-half of the husband-and-wife team that designed and markets the
RevolveR Bound Journals, probably one of the most creative journals ever made. Both Unposted and OfficeSupplyGeek have great reviews of the RevolveR Bound Journal, and OfficeSupplyGeek met Ellen and Matt Dudley at the National Stationery Show in May 2009 and got to see the RevolveR back then before any of us heard about it, much less saw it. So I was really excited when I received an email from the Dudleys explaining the RevolveR and asking if I would like to review one of the journals. I was absolutely thrilled; since I actually live close by their design studio, we were able to set up a time for me to come by to meet them and talk about their unique notebook.

Revolver is located at 131 Essex Street, on the corner of Rivington in an elderly tenement that was probably once a workshop. For those with a sweet tooth, the awesome Economy Candy Store is a few doors down on Rivington, and the Essex Market building is a block south. Up four flights of stairs painted deep black that contrasted with the rich turquoise walls is Revolver Bound Books and Journals, sharing a large loft space with six other creative designers who work in precious metal and cloth.

Ellen Dudley greeted me at the main door and later gave me a quick tour of the fourth floor space. A warm, gracious woman with short blonde-brown hair, Ellen has a friendly demeanor and a twinkle in her eye. Unfortunately, Matt Dudley was under the weather and thus we didn't meet, but I spent a great hour sitting with Ellen and the better part of 150 cases of RevolveR journals.

Revolver Bound Books and Journals is a new venture for the Dudleys, who had been in the book business for 16 years prior packaging books for publication. The idea for the RevolveR Journal with its floating spine came from working on a book for young readers about time. As Ellen explained, she became intrigued with the concept of time twisting around and of creating a circular story. She was also interested in journaling, the idea of keeping lists and jotting ideas down so that the RevolveR became a tradition object with a twist, literally. The dual journal has received a lot of attention from museums as a design concept piece as well as a functional tool.

As we talked about the nature of time, journaling, and the invention of the pencil, Ellen mentioned that people who pick up the RevolveR have a definite idea of how to use it. She's had suggestions from people to put a Guide to Birds in one half and keep the notes section in the other so they could use it for their birding activities; another suggestion was for a Guide to Paris, and the notes section would be for their favorite places and memories.

Small to large companies have shown interest in the RevolveR and the journal got a great reception at two recent shows, the National Stationery Show and the New York International Gift Fair. A fellow vendor told Ellen that the RevolveR was very Zen, embracing duality with a circular feel. And the ongoing response has been very exciting: RevolveR Bound Journals can be found at 10 stores nationwide, including: Flight 001 and Giant Robot, both with stores in New York and San Francisco; Exit 9 and Print Icon in New York; Warwick, in La Jolla, CA, ; Barrington Books in Barrington, Rhode Island; La Grua's in Stonington, Connecticut; and Paper and Chocolate in Dallas, Texas. The RevolveR can also be found at the following museum stores: Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; the Walker Art Center Shop in Minneapolis; and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Art Cellar in Minneapolis. Several more stores will be stocking RevolveR soon, and the flexible spine technology is available for licensing (a great idea for corporate logos and university insignias). The Journal is also available at RevolveR Bound Journals, and their web site has a great video showing off the Journal's flexibility.

The RevolveR Journal itself comes in two sizes and four colors, and opens up in an ingenious fashion that has been reviewed elsewhere (links above). There are two 64-page sewn folios, one blank and one lined for all your note-taking and other needs. The outer paper, which feels more like a matte vinyl or Moleskin-like leather, is bonded with a water based acrylic paint and made by Ecofiber, giving the paper a classic feel while being environmentally sound.

Down the line, the Dudleys are looking to expand the line and Ellen showed me a prototype of the RevolveR Pops, a smaller, thicker journal in beautiful neon colors (orange, pink, red, yellow). If the Pops comes to pass they will add an extra element of fun to an already stylish concept. As much as I loved the Pops journal it wasn't leaving the design studio, but Ellen generously offered me my choice of a journal, which she wrapped so artfully in brown paper that I didn't open my Little Blue RevolveR for several days. But now it's in among the journals in my bag, and I get a lot of questions and compliments every time I take it out. An extraordinary idea for a great journal!

If you are near Madison Square Park at 5th Avenue and 23rd Street starting October 9 through November 1, the Dudleys will have a booth showcasing the RevolveR Journal at the Madison Square Mark't. Stop by and check out the blue, green, red, and silver revolving journals.