14 November 2013

Mission Impossible?

The 75th Anniversary Special Edition.
'Your mission should you decide to accept it, is to design a Filofax Personal Organiser suitable for celebrating their 100th anniversary in 2021....  this tape will self destruct in 10 seconds'

Gulp where do you start... well get yourself down to sunny Sussex and report to the New Product Design Department for starters.

You make yourself comfortable at your drawing board, you have a pot of new sharpened pencils in a full rainbow array of colours, some suitable paper for your initial sketches and designs and a bag of sandwiches.

So where would you start? Would you base your design on a previous design? Or a new design with hints of lots of the favourites in them?

May be start with a cup of tea and some digestive biscuits, gaze out of the window for a while, go for a walk with a Filofax clutched in your firm grip, understand the significance of what you are about to create.

It has to please everyone, be desirable, look valuable yet affordable, exclusive in some way.

What colours would you make it available in?

How would you present such a special model? A fancy box?

There's no prizes,  no right answers on this one, just give it your best shot....

Good luck.....


  1. I would make a bold attempt at showing that Filofax can once again be the essential business tool. My special edition would be top quality tan leather (also available in black) in a simple but classy box. Must be genuinely made in Britain (not just assembled in the UK using a cheap ring mechanism and other imported parts). Must be able to sit flat on a desk but be equally manageable for use at meetings and on a train/plane. There would be a place for an iPad with a lightweight protective cover/ magnetic closure. Most importantly, the full face of the iPad would be visible rather than flopping around half-hidden in a leather "cage". In the other half would be a proper leather (no plastic back cover) ultra slimline (13mm-15mm rings) slot in binder which could be removed and replaced by Flex inserts (or Moleskine/ Plannerism etc) for those prefer it. There would be sufficient room for A4 papers - ideally in a full width secretarial pocket to save folding. Two pen loops - one for a highlighter and the other for a pen or pencil. A zipped pocket for receipts and pockets for business cards, earphones and iPad lead, but not gimmicks like a pocket for a smart phone.

    Now that's what I'd like to whip out at a meeting. Not being sexist but it would a product that men would want to buy and use, rather than the constant deluge of ultra-feminine items that have been the signal that Filofaxes are almost exclusively for women these days.

  2. The nostalgic side of me says that the 100th anniversary Filofax should be a top-quality reissue of the Winchester - surely one of, if not the, most iconic binders ever produced by the company.

    The problem is relevance. 2021 is 8 years from now, by which time we'll be looking at the iPad 9 at least. There may have been revolutionary developments in technology by then, so it is difficult to prognosticate as to what would be relevant from a technology coexistence point of view. We may all have given up those bulky tablets and be walking around wearing something like Google Glass version 27!

    In fact, the more I think about it the more I think that a focused, timeless release is the way to go. Winchester all the way!

    1. I completely agree with Paul! A replica of the classic leather Winchester, in a variety of ring sizes up to 1 1/2 inches, in tan, brown, black, dark red and dark green. I would buy that!

    2. If we're talking wishlist, mine's a 5/4 Winchester in Ostrich or Sharkskin... Sadly I think those are likely to be a bit too specialist even for an anniversary release!

  3. Wow Tim!! Sounds just like the ideas I was initially struck by and an item we all would use. I would add to that big rings in gold and more pen/pencil storage, but not in elastic. This binder has to have good taste and quality oozing from its every pore. Yet being an anniversary edition and a limited edition I'd be almost afraid to use it!!!

  4. Steve do you know what the very first filofax (or collection) was/looked like?

  5. I'm in agreement with the Winchester reissue idea but modified such that they come in sets of three with two 6 -ring personals and a desk model. Each limited edition set would come in matching leather with the colour choices being black, brown, tan, burgundy & navy like those we see on Stephen Duffy's, J. Mark Bertrand's or gmax's flickr pages. Each set would consist of two Personals with different ring sizes ranging from 11mm to 30, and a Deskfax model, either the original 6-ring double width or the 9 ring DX1CLF. To accommodate whatever generation of etablet device, insertable device holders akin to the card and bill holder inserts that matched the Winchesters would be available. My personal choice of a set would be a 3CL, 4CLF5/4 and a 9-ring DX1CLF7/8 in either burgundy or navy blue.

  6. I'm also in agreement with a re-issue of the Winchester.
    I wouldn't be too bothered about a fancy box, but it might be nice to have them as a limited edition with the number on the inside. Not sure I can really add to Tim or Alan's great ideas :)

  7. hmmmm... Design your own special edition Filofax... I'd better start with how I use mine so that you can see where I'm getting my inspiration from. It might also be useful to know that I'm a mature university student studying to become a healthcare professional:

    I've found myself using mine like my wallet and pencil case. I essentially like to use my Filo as my handbag so I can "pick up and go" and make it fun as well as functional so that I'm always playing with it and therefore see my to-do list and schedule more often. I also attach a keyring watch to the top ring so that I can see it whether the organiser is closed or not. I hate wearing a watch on my wrist, and can't in a clinical environment anyway.

    I will be investing in a Malden, as my current "Filo" is a 26 year old WHSmith personal organiser which originally belonged to my Dad. For me the Malden was the winner because the zip pocket is on the same side as the cards. I would have gone for a Pennybridge compact, but I keep a lot of other inserts in my rings.

    If I were to be designing my own I would do something a little bold and combine a wallet and an organiser but keep the sections separate. A wrap-around-zipped section for the wallet (on the back of the right hand side), and a traditional press stud closure for the organiser (I personally prefer the Malden detail as it's not boring, but still simple). To ensure it still lies flat, the wallet section would extend to the full width of the side (i.e. to where the spine requires some flexibility allowance) to allow sufficient spacing and prevent cramming.

    I have thought about a phone section for the personal size, but my ideas were getting a bit ridiculous and cumbersome as I was thinking about fixing it to the front for ease of access. However now remembering all of the card slots have been moved to the wallet section, a phone could now be kept here and secured in such a way that you could alternatively use it for a notebook or pens.

    Maybe a flex-style slot that opens at the top and bottom but fronted with see-through plastic that you can operate a smartphone through? Or maybe just a simple strap or straps top and bottom. I can't think of a "hold-and-use" system that caters for most phones without compromising on screen access without resorting to a flex-style slot in holder that clips to the phone (I'm thinking of those wallet covers but folding the front back, chopping off the closure strap and slotting into a pocket) - which means you need a different one for each model of phone. Or just stuff the phone and have more pens. I colour code and the pen holders don't hold thicker multi-colour pens or have more than 2 pen holders.

    All the colours of the Malden. A4 size too please. I personally loose things easily and require bright colours. Black and Pink being the only colours currently available in this size isn't ideal - I either loose it, or look like Barbie at an interview.

    To come in Pocket up to A4 size, with A5 and A4 to include iPad securing/sized-slot. Mini just seems a bit too crammed, and maybe Pocket too, but as Filofax seems to be targeting women more these days, you wouldn't want to exclude the hand-bag crew from this event. By the way, the dual closure will be quite useful for make-up enthusiasts as they won't be worried about their pages getting splattered with powders. Will also be handy for mini multi-tools and/or keys.

    So essentially a Swiss Army Filo would get me going! Mine currently gets a lot of compliments, so maybe there's something in it?

  8. Personal size, dark green leather and leather throughout - no cardboard or stiffener! Similar layout to the ostrich - easily accessible zip pocket, slit pockets, and tons of card slots. Full length pocket across the back for larger documents. Oh, and removable rings - this set would come in a simple wooden box with both 1.25" and 15mm rings in GOLD! That way you could switch from personal to compact with the swap of a ring set. And since we're dreaming, maybe a little leather storage sleeve to keep extra inserts protected when we are using the smaller rings :)

  9. There is another option which slipped my mind earlier - Filofax could reissue the 1980s top-of-the-line binder: the original Balmoral. 5/4 rings, wraparound cover (sort of like a duplex but with only one set of rings) and a separate jotter pad, all done in top quality leather like a Winchester with extra bells and whistles. There is a picture of the 10CLFJ5/4 on flickr (gmax's photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/30775101@N04/5461425171/ ) which might whet the appetite. Any takers?

  10. I would be quite happy with any of the above suggestions,as long as it was made using good,quality leather. I would Like for the Rings to be perhaps a little bigger,since I am always running out of space! It would also be fabulous if they could line the organizer either with leather or the way they used to,with the Filofax motif all over the inside. Obviously lots of credit card slots and perhaps with leather dividers instead of the flimsy yellow that's currently used.

  11. I'm hoping that by 2021, Filofax would have discovered some new space-age material that can be used for the rings that allows them to expand and contact depending on what you've put in the binder. Of course, the leather would also need to have similar properties :D

  12. I think the 100th aniversary shouldn't pander to the transitary accoutrements of the modern age. That nifty ipad slot, for instance, will quickly become obsolete.

    My suggestion is very simple - I'd like to see an exact copy of the very first Filofax ever produced.