Pretty much everyone has owned a composition notebook at one point or another. The classic black and white cover is easily recognizable in any office supply store and can usually be found in the backpack of most students. But these notebooks aren’t just popular among students. Many artists, like Jean-Michael Basquiat and Roy Lichtenstein, were fans of the composition notebook, and now, Aron Fay, another long time fan, has given the notebook new life.
When Fay first joined Pentagram, a design firm based in New York, Pentagram partner Michael Bierut handed him a composition notebook on his first day. This was a regular occurrence since Bierut is also a huge fan of the notebook. Fay fell in love with the notebook and has since launched Comp, a modern redesign of the classic notebook. The redesign gives the notebook a more deluxe feel, like brands such as Moleskine and Baron Fig.
Fay revealed that his love for composition notebooks, as well as other designers who are fans, comes from the fact that the notebook is humble. “To me, the appeal of composition notebooks is they’re not fussy,” says Fay. “ Haven’t you ever bought a Moleskine or some fancy German notebook, gone to write something down, and felt like it was judging you? Composition notebooks don’t do that. They’re really utilitarian objects that make you feel like it’s okay to write something down in them.”
Fay does admit that there are aspects of the classic notebook that he less fond of: the paper quality, binding, the lined paper that isn’t quite suitable for a design professional, and the typography. Fay’s Comp addresses all of the irritating aspects and improves them for designers.
The first element of Comp that Fay tackled was the cover. The classic notebook’s highly recognizable cover was an aspect that Fay wanted to keep for Comp, but redesigned slightly to a more ideal pattern that paired well with what he was looking to do. “I like the shapes in the pseudo-marbling to be very well-articulated, where the shapes are organic and self-contained,” explains Fay.
Similar to other upscale notebooks, the Comp lays flat when opened and the Italian cloth used for the binding adds durability and a luxurious feel to the overall notebook. Unlike the original the Comp was modeled after, the cover is stiffer and contains 120gsm paper, versus the 58gsm in the original.
If you’re interested in picking up a Comp for yourself, it is available for preorder on Kickstarter. Although his redesign may have taken away some of the modesty of the composition notebook, it still makes for a great tool if you’re looking to get the most out of your notebook.