Three Questions With Lindsay Nelson

The name Hobonichi has infiltrated the stationery lexicon in the US over the last couple of years, much of that thanks to Lindsay Nelson. Lindsay works for Hobonichi, providing the Japanese to English translations that have allowed the brand to expand outside of its homeland. My thanks to Lindsay for answering Three Questions.

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

I'm always blindly experimenting with my digital-analog balance. After reading about Getting Things Done, for example, I could tell it'd work well for me--but I had no clue whether I should use my iPhone or my paper planner. I'm fascinated by the idea of mastering a harmony between smart-phones and paper planners, so I'm still in the thick of trial-and-error to find it. Among other things, written to-do lists have totally trumped putting it in my phone; it's just not "real" enough when I type it in. My general rule is to outline long-term projects in Omnifocus and write each new daily agenda by hand in my daily planner. Budgets are also slipping through my fingers all the time, so I've been entertaining the thought of starting an old-fashioned ledger, for the same reason it feels more real spending cash than it does a credit card.

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

I'm going into my seventh year using the Hobonichi Techo, and I feel a real affinity with the product because it clicked from day one, although I've never, ever been a journaling person. I needed a planner for work, but I lived in Japan at the time, with a job that amounted to brainstorming ideas for projects I'd then have to manage myself. Muji notebooks are great, but I couldn't crawl out from creative slumps when I had a blank piece of paper plopped in front of me. Lined planners didn't feel free enough. The Hobonichi Techo gave me wide-open graph paper I could navigate around, but it was encircled it with a subtle structure that disappeared when I didn't need it.

Shigesato Itoi, who created the planner, said my favorite description of it--the page is a tatami room, and you can pick each area where you want to lay your futon, have your tea, watch TV, have friends over... I couldn't ever keep a diary because it was a chore to write out my day, but now, writing things out isn't a chore anymore. I experiment with pens, glue stuff in, jot down stream-of-consciousness notes, have friends write me silly messages, stuff like that. Paper and pens are fun for me again, and having a long row of old planners line my bookshelf is so neat, because I know these inane books will be precious fifty years from now. Gosh, I didn't mean for that to sound like an ad--I've just been using it since way before I began working with Hobonichi. 

My favorite black ink pens are the Sakura Pigma Micron sets because I've never had them smudge or bleed through paper, and they're just so handsome I could swoon. For colored pens, I love the Pentel Slicci, because they're sturdy, come in so many pretty colors, and most importantly, come in 0.4 size! That's my go-to size, because 0.1 or 0.2 is only comfortable when I'm writing in Japanese with its intricate characters, and 0.7 only works for writing in simpler English letters. So for someone who often writes in both languages, it's the perfect fit!

3. What creation or design of yours are you most proud of?

It's still a work in progress, but I'm most proud of the website I designed and created with the help of my husband before I began working for Hobonichi. It's a labor of love, but I haven't had any time to update it because I've been so busy with actual work. I'm actually hoping to use this site to track my progress with the digital-and-analog balancing experiments! (I'm also a big fat sucker for skeuomorphism.)

Posted on October 25, 2014 and filed under Three Questions.