Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review: FAF Un Bloc Pad

My FAF Un Bloc Pad arrived last week from Design Within Reach and I had a few quick thoughts, mostly I was surpised and very pleased that this is an Exacompta product. It is a top quality, elegantly spare notepad with a lot of thought put into the design. If you happen to be looking for a stylish and minimalist present for yourself, this is something to consider (maybe in the smaller size, which is more purse/tote/bookbag friendly.

The first thing to notice is the packaging: a sturdy presentation box that opens to show off the notepad and it's wrapper, with lots of French to let you know this is one elegant import. Many of the items at Design Within Reach are sleek and unpretentious. Their stores are spare and modern, but they only sell furniture--no paper or notepads. When I stopped by one on West 14th Street I did get to see the small notepad that the sales manager was using, and it is a great size for mobile writing.

Anyway, it's available in large and small sizes and the steel back has rubber rounds on it to prevent slipping or damage to surfaces. There are 200 sheets of roughly 10 inch x 10.5inch two-hole paper, held in place by a metal bar and two brass washers.

One detail you notice when you take the washers and metal bar off is that the paper is both notched on the side and scored along the length When everything is put back, the side of the metal bar now fits into the notch of the paper, allowing the sheets to be ripped off the notepad smoothly and evenly.

Here's another view of the notepad without the metal bar or washers, you can see the scoring along the length and the notch in the side. The top of the steel notepad curves over and acts as a stopper so the paper is even when it is placed in the two metal spike/tacks.

Another side view, this time from the front of the notepad. One interesting point that you can see in a few of the pictures above is that the paper has four holes punched into it although there are only two spikes The other two holes are in-between the spikes, and I'm not sure what use they might have.

I love that the Exacompta name is right on the metal bar above the left washer. On the right is says "Un Bloc Pad."

Put it all together and you get this, a beautiful and functional notepad that turns heads at meetings. The paper is actually better than I had originally thought. It's very light and feels like regular copy paper--definitely not Rhodia or Clairefontaine, but sturdy nonetheless. What was surprising was how much my gel ink and fountain pens liked it. They pretty much glided over he paper with no resistance, although when I was writing with the fountain pen that was the first time I actually heard myself writing. There was a definite shadow on the opposite side but not bleed through, making this paper a good choice for the notepad. I'm not sure if I'll be ordering refills or looking for alternatives. I have a few MiquelRius notebooks that have paper that will fit this with a little tinkering, but it's really not the same.


  1. Great review! I like this pad - it has sort of an industrial / steam-punkish flair without being tacky. I think it would make a very nice writing pad for a desk.

  2. John, I agree it's another great review. The big plus seems to me how the paper is well-secured to the back. Spring-loaded Masonite clipboards never seem to grip sturdily enough to resist notepad/legal pad pull-out.


  3. If Exacompta could be persuaded to design an aluminum or magnesium padfolio suitable for classroom or desk that accepted 8 1/2" X 14" legal pads, well . . . . How about Ampad making up compatible (hole-punched) legal pads?


  4. John, you're right--there's a steampunk element to this. Maybe the color makes it so.

  5. I love these. One of the smaller sized ones sits by the phone and is used for every kind of note. The other sits on my office desk.

    They also get used regulalry for fountain pen testing - the paper if very fountain pen friendly.

    In Canada (and I suppose from elsewhere too) you can get them - and the refills - from Stylus Fine Pens in Edmonton. I think they carry all four sizes, though not always all in stock.