For years, Moleskine has been known as the notebook company if you’re an artist, writer, journaler, or just enjoy doodling. Like the notebooks artists such as Picasso and Hemingway used to use, Moleskine notebooks are clean and the perfect means to jot down your thoughts and ideas. Now, in order to expand their brand, they’ve opened a cafe in Milan, Italy modeled after the cafes artists used to frequent back in the day.
Working with brand consulting company Interbrand, the modernized space has multiple areas for care-goers to work. The location is a mixture of dining and work areas, complete with communal tables, gallery, and retail area. The gallery features works from select artists and designers, such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Kengo Kuma, and a digital interface featuring work from fans of the brand. The two-story building has a simple, minimalist design, with pops of color found only in the upholstery to create a distraction-free surrounding.
“The founders’ vision from the beginning was to leverage the incredible story behind Moleskine,” says Arrigo Berni, the coimpany’s CEO. “Being associated with great artists and thinkers identifies the brand with a certain lifestyle and values: culture, memory, and exploration. These are the values we have been emphasizing more and more in our activities.”
This is not the first time the company has branched out. In recent years, they’ve created everything from bags to digital products that emulate the brand’s lifestyle. Moleskine had also already opened a branded cafe in the Geneva airport last year. Their Milan location is the first to be opened in an urbanized area and is completely owned and operated by the brand.
“The cafe is a way for us to provide a physical experience of the intangible dimension of the lifestyle brand we’ve been defining,” Berni says. “The main challenge in building Moleskine is keeping the right balance between protecting the brand values and growing. You want to develop the business and the company, but at the same time you have to be careful. There’s a risk of diluting the brand if you don’t respect authenticity.”
The company hopes to open cafes in metropolitan areas in Europe, Asia, and North America in the future, but is unsure of exactly where and when they will decide to do so. “We’re focused on making this work [before expanding],” says Berni. “I don’t want to jinx it.”