A Visit to the Fabriano Boutique, London.

I started writing this thinking I could wrap up a review of a store visit and some products in one short piece, but it soon became obvious that this was not going to be the case. So, this review is divided into two parts, the visit and the products, and as this is a long one I suggest you make some coffee pull up a plate of cookies and get comfortable.

I have long wanted to visit the Fabriano Boutique in London, ever since returning from a trip to Rome and visiting the boutique at the airport; I’m not sure why has taken so long to get there but I’m glad we made the effort. 

If you are in London go and visit Fabriano; in fact, we found Marylebone High Street to be something of a hidden gem; it was like visiting a small town and not somewhere that is only a short walk from Oxford Street.

Fabriano External Web 500pxAs you approach the boutique the first thing you notice are the bright colours bursting from the window displays and when you step inside you are greeted by a mass of colourful displays full of notebooks, pens, leather goods, cards and assorted stationery. I have to admit I was a little overwhelmed, but in a good way, and when you compare this to the positively sombre and serious Moleskine stores it is like crossing the threshold from winter into summer. 

Once I had my bearings, which I admit took a few minutes, I was ready to spend some time there. The staff are lovely and very kindly offered my wife coffee as it was clear I wasn’t leaving anytime soon.

Fabriano Internal 640x480I was helped by Veronica who, every time my hands were full, took the notebooks from me and added them to the pile I was accumulating behind the register. She was happy to talk to me about the range of products, the materials used and asked me if I had ever used a Montegrappa fountain pen. I said I had not and Veronica said that this was the day that changed and then brought out several pens including the solid copper Mule. All of which I got to try out; and they are really nice pens to use, with very smooth nibs especially the Mule, which needless to say I now want one for my collection.

Then as my visit drew to an end my stash of notebooks was packed carefully into a large envelope and then into a bag and it was time to say goodbye and go home. I can’t recommend visiting the Fabriano Boutique enough, it’s such a refreshing change from the norm and a great way to bring some colour into your stationery collection.

Part 2 – The Reviews

Notebooks Web 650px

For the reviews I will be looking at the following notebooks, all from the EcoQua range.

A5 Glue Bound/Dot Grid Notebook (Elastic Closure)

A4 Staple Bound/Graph Notebook

A4 Glue Bound/Dot Grid Notebook

A6 Staple Bound/Dot Grid/Pack of 4 Notebooks

The EcoQua is Fabriano’s 100% environmentally friendly range of notebooks and this extends to the covers as well as the internal paper; the latter is all 85gsm pale ivory and is suitable for all types of pens (see the ink test towards the end of this review). 

A5 Glue Bound/Dot Grid Notebook (Elastic Closure)

A5 Notebook Web 400px

This was my most expensive item at £10.00 but it is probably the most practical of the notebooks I purchased. It contains 80 sheets of the 85gsm paper, has rounded corners, a rear pocket and an elastic closure; and is also available in A6, both of them come in either graph or dot grid paper.

It is built from 5 stitched sections that are glue bound to the cover and while this does add some extra flexibility when using the notebook, this type of construction doesn’t allow the notebook to lie completely flat; it’s the same thing you tend to find in all notebooks of this design.

I was particularly impressed that the elastic closure which is fed in through two discreet slits in the rear cover does not create a noticeable bump which you get with some notebooks. I’ve stretched the elastic on and off many times and it is still good unlike Moleskine which, I find, has a very short life span.

For me this is the notebook that can go anywhere, it’s the right size to be useful and the right size to drop into any bag.

From a value point of view it is very similar to the Leuchtturm1917 A5 soft cover notebook and whilst the Leuchtturm1917 has a few more bells and whistles the Fabriano has more pages. I have both and I like both so in this case I can’t put one ahead of the other; all I would say is if you are in the boutique or ordering online you won’t be disappointed if you take the plunge and buy one.

A4 Staple Bound/Graph Notebook

A4 Staple Binding Web 300px

This is the big brother of the A6 notebooks, below, and has 38+2 sheets of 85gsm paper; the +2 is indicative of plain inner sheets at the front and rear. The front has lines and space for your details and the rear has details of the environmental credentials of the paper and card stock used and the paper you will actually use is available in lined, plain & graph formats; the lines and graph formats are printed in light grey on the pages.

Unlike its little brother it does not have any perforated pages and being staple bound (3 staples) does not lie flat but it does have the same rounded corners helping to keep it looking smarter longer. 

These are high quality notebooks that look and feel far more expensive than they are; a good point of comparison is with the A4 staple bound Muji notebook. Both are £2.50 each but past that point the Muji notebook cannot compete, not least because it is made of noticeably inferior materials.

They are smart notebooks and the range of colours and low cost means they are both a very practical and affordable choice for anyone managing a number of projects, courses or hobbies; allowing you to colour code with ease.

A4 Glue Bound/Dot Grid Notebook

A4 Glue Notebook Web 500px.jpeg

This is my favourite of the larger notebooks and differs significantly from the staple bound version in a number of ways. It is made up of 90 sheets of 85gsm paper, the same high-quality card for its cover and as with the staple bound version it has Fabriano discreetly printed in silver half way down the right hand edge.

From this point on it starts to differ. The sheets of paper are glue bound but are not attached to the spine of the cover; in fact the cover wraps a couple of inches past the spine and is attached to a white back board to which the block of glue bound pages is attached. 

A4 Glue Binding Web 300px.jpeg

What this means is when you open the notebook it lies virtually flat making it especially easy to use in both portrait and landscape orientations. In the latter it works particularly well desk jotter and, in this capacity, represents significantly better value than its Rhodia equivalent.

It would be nice to say that there is a little tweak here or there that Fabriano could make to improve this notebook but it’s even nicer to be able to say that there isn’t; in this design it is simply the best large notebook I have ever come across.

A6 Staple Bound/Dot Grid/Pack of 4 Notebooks

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These come in a pack of four for £6.50 containing 32 sheets/64pages the latter half of the notebook being perforated and is available in either plain or dot grid pages.

The staple binding (2 staples) is excellent but like all staple bound notebooks it doesn’t lie flat but you have to remember that the pocket notebook is usually just for quick notes and is unlikely to be a long term repository of information.

The only branding is on the back of the notebook towards the bottom. The colours of the covers are bright, vivid and stand out in the sea of black notebooks so there is not much chance of anyone picking it up by mistake.

The corners are rounded which is another plus and should stop the notebook getting tatty edges; and the only thing I think could be better would be the addition of a card pocket as part of the rear cover, the same as Moleskine.

Paper Quality/Ink Test

Paper quality and how it responds to ink does vary immensely so I was very curious to test this out; all the notebooks contain the same 85gsm ivory F.S.C. certified ecological Bioprima Book paper and scratch resistant 290gsm light fast Sirio Tela ecological paper covers. 

Which sounds great, but my experience of ecological papers has been a real mixed bag, so I was not expecting a great deal from Fabriano, particularly when you consider the low cost of some of the notebooks I bought.

So, as you can see I did an ink test using Diamine Bilberry which is a very deep colour and some mixed writing samples. There was no feathering, bleed through of the text or saturation of the paper (and I was liberal with the Bilberry) that soaked through.

Ink Test Web 588px.jpeg

The paper performed extremely well and despite the slight show through of some of the text it would not be a problem to use both sides of the page even with the wettest of fountain pens. 

Conclusion

Thank you for sticking with me to end of what has been a long review but I hope it’s been worth it, the notebooks I have reviewed are all current stock and I would urge you next time it’s time to restock to add some sunshine to your stationery collection and buy some Fabriano. 

Whilst they may not always the cheapest option they are very good quality and I do believe they are excellent value; and I will be going back, and I will be buying more.

Finally, I would like to end this review by saying that shopping with Fabriano was a wonderful experience and I look forward to my next visit.

Disclaimer: All of the notebooks were purchased with my own funds at retail price. The opinions expressed in this review are my own; and I am not connected with either the retailers or manufacturers in any way.

All photographs are my own other than those of the store which are the property of Fabriano whom I hope will be kind enough to forgive my use of them.

 

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2 thoughts on “A Visit to the Fabriano Boutique, London.”

  1. I really like this paper, but was a bit disappointed by the binding of the A5 books. I found it very hard to get these books to lie flat when in use. Their A5 exercise books are great, especially the thread bound ones.

    Like

    1. Hi, Thanks for reading. I agree, the paper is very good and and as much as I like the A5, it won’t lie flat. Thanks for the tip about the A5 exercise books, they’re going on my shopping list for the next visit.
      Charlie

      Liked by 1 person

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