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[Herald Interview] Legendary notebook brand thrives in digital era

Moleskine evolves from simple notebook maker into platform for imagination

Moleskine, the Milan-based legendary notebook maker with a more than 200-year history, is sailing through the digital era, evolving into a “platform for creativity.”

Under the new brand vision, Moleskine has stopped limiting itself to paper-based black notebooks.

“The brand today creates platforms and containers for imagination either online or offline,” Arrigo Berni, CEO of Moleskine, said in a recent email interview with The Korea Herald.

So it made sense for him to start seeking opportunities in cyberspace.

“We found that consumers today don’t see digital and analog as competing. Rather, they want the best of both worlds,” Berni said. 
Moleskine CEO Arrigo Berni
Moleskine CEO Arrigo Berni

“Customers pay more attention to moving content back and forth between the two, to facilitate them in everyday life.”

In an effort to meet customers’ demands, the Moleskine CEO, who joined the firm in 2006, teamed up with Evernote, a famous note-taking application, in 2012 to develop Moleskine’s first smart notebook app.

When the camera of the Evernote app jointly developed with Moleskine captures handwriting and sketches on Moleskine notebooks, the analog contents are seamlessly digitized for smart devices.

The company is exploring the opposite content conversion. Moleskine formed a partnership with FiftyThree, an iPad drawing app, to allow users to turn their tablet artworks into a custom-printed Moleskine book.

The company also has expanded its offline businesses. It continues to develop limited paper-based notebook editions in collaboration with artists and expand into new retail domains, including pens, bags and accessories. 
Moleskine’s smart notebook for Evernote, a note-taking app
Moleskine’s smart notebook for Evernote, a note-taking app

“With us at the forefront of the analog-to-digital continuum, customers see our offerings as open platforms for creativity,” a former management consultant at Bain & Company said.

He is positive about the future growth of Moleskine due to growing overseas demand. China has become one of Moleskine’s biggest overseas markets.

“We have found that our core audience of ‘contemporary nomads’ (in cities around the world) share common interests,” Berni said.

Contemporary nomads are world travelers who value imagination and collecting memorable experiences and interests regardless of where they are located, he explained.

“Since the beginning, Moleskine was envisioned as the ‘urban toolkit,’ and it’s only recently that we’ve been able to really develop further items. We are constantly evolving our collection to meet the ever-changing requirements of contemporary nomads,” he said.

Despite their diversified products and services, the Moleskine CEO’s personal favorite item is still the original black notebook with an elastic band to hold the notebook closed.

“It is the first tool we created and has a rich heritage. It is the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by avant-garde artists and thinkers over the past two centuries, people who need to create freely while in cafes, in the streets or traveling,” he said.

“I use Moleskine offerings on a daily basis, both in business and personally. They help me to gather thoughts and ideas as well as record memories.”

By Seo Jee-yeon (
Korea Herald Youtube