17 July 2014

Van der Spek - Standard size review

Yesterday we published a series of photographs about the making of this Van der Spek Standard organiser. Thank you for all your comments and feedback.

Today I will be reviewing this organiser and looking at the design in more detail. It is a made with nappa leather, which is very soft and supple with a soft sheen finish. This one is Nero (6235) on the outside and Acacia (6204) on the inside.

As you will have seen in the previous post the organiser is made with a great deal of care and attention and the quality of finish and the quality of the materials used are very high.

The design is very straight forward, it has a nice broad clasp closure. The clasp is very flexible and lays flat when open and stays flat.

As can be seen, the clasp is secured to the rear of the organiser.

The Krause rings fitted to this particular example measure 26 mm in internal diameter and they close nice and tightly.

This type of mechanism is easy to remove and replace as can be seen in this recent video I filmed.

Van der Spek recently announced that 30 mm rings are now available in this size as well and now available to order on their website.

The internal layout is fairly conventional but simple and straight forward. On the inside front cover there are six card slots, with the cards inserted vertically. A slightly bigger business card slot at the base of this section. 

There are then two full height slip pockets, one behind the credit card pockets, the other a slightly deeper pocket which takes a passport easily. 

The inside back cover has a single deep full height slip pocket.  The deep pocket will hold my iPhone 4. 

As we saw in the construction post, the single pen loop is elasticated. A second pen loop is optional. 

The quality of the stitching is excellent, I did some checks on the number of stitches per inch and measured them at 11 stitches per inch, which is very good. Anything above 9 stitches per inch is considered to be very good quality leather and craftsmanship

Another optional extra is the leather fly leaf. It improves the appearance and when used at the front of the organiser it also smooths out the writing surface.

This particular fly leaf is in the same contrasting leather colours, but you could have just the same colour as your interior or exterior leathers and contrasting or matching stitching.

You will notice in these photos that this standard lays flat, no training is required. This one has a material called Bontex used as a stiffening board in the cover sections only. It is very thin less than 0.4 mm in thickness, so it provides structure to the organiser, but the design omits this material in the spine area of the organiser to allow full flexibility here. It is possible to specify no stiffening at all when you order from Van der Spek.

Van der Spek offer the same inserts as Gillio and a number of other brands. They are are of very good quality and cover lots of functions. Personally I've been using my own inserts and other existing pages.

The insert set is an optional extra, so you don't have to purchase them if you already have a set of inserts that work and you have all your details entered on them.

The rings have more than ample capacity for a full insert fill.

This particular example is in a Week on Two pages format. 

A-Z index pages with names and phone numbers or email addresses.

These are the appointments pages which allow you to plan meetings for a single day with timings from 7am to 7pm

Detailed contact information sheets with name, address, email address, phone numbers, comments etc

Notes pages

There are also pages for project planning, goals, graph paper etc, with matching dividers too.

In use:
As you might already know I use two organisers all the time, an A5 at my desk and a personal size which I carry around with me. I have been using this particular type of set up and some variations on it now for about 3 years. I will do a post to recap on how this set up works for me in the near future.

So when I received the Van der Spek organisers at the end of April after taking a day or two to decide on photographs and get those taken, the Standard was pressed in to use straight away.

I took my full personal size fill out of the previous organiser I was using and put it straight in to the Van der Spek. Apart from one day, it has been in use every day. The pocket layout is perfect for my day to day requirements.

The nappa leather has proved faultless. Whilst it can show finger scratches they rub out instantly with a slightly damp finger rub.

The leather still has that deliciously rich leather smell to it. The organiser has been handled and carried around, I've not kept it in an special bag or protective cover. It's just gone in to which ever bag I'm using on the day (and I have quite a few!)

The organiser has been shown around at meet ups I attended in London and Glasgow and it received very favourable comments from everyone there. Friends of mine have started to notice the various organisers I use and one or two were interested to know what this particular one was more than any other I've produced out of my bag.

I would like to thank Petra Van der Spek for supplying the review sample featured in this post and especially her patience when we were trying to decide what colours to make it in!

The Van der Spek website now has a new web-shop which makes it a lot easier to order an organiser from them. There is also a very friendly Facebook group devoted to Van der Spek organisers.

Here is their publicity video, but it shows the people themselves crafting these lovely organisers. There were no stand-ins for the making of this video!

And finally... there will be a chance next week to win a Van der Spek organiser here on Philofaxy, the competition will be open to all our readers.


  1. Thanks to this lovely post, I might need a standard VDS to go with my A5 VDS. Provided I can find a way to use both at the same time. Very interested to see how you go about with the A5 + personal combo. Also excited for the competition!

  2. Love this post! I'm very close to ordering my perfect VDS, just need to decide on the colours. And your latest and this post has helped convince me I want/need the VDS standard.

  3. Thank you so much for this detailed review. For one thing, it finally answered a burning question I've had: OD or ID?? :) Please do keep us updated as your experience builds with this lovely organizer.

    1. I always measure rings by their internal dimensions in mm and across the rings as shown in the photograph, it's a more reliable measurement and repeatable.

  4. looks very smart, simple yet elegant. I wish I could touch one to made up my mind!