APPLE DESIGN AWARDS
Discover Moleskine’s infinity notebook
Developer Michael Del Borrello introduces Flow, a beautiful, intuitive workbook.
Flow by Moleskine
Sketch. Think. Create.
Flow by Moleskine is the winner of a 2019 Apple Design Award, which recognises the creative artistry and technical achievements of developers who reflect the best in design, innovation and technology on Apple platforms.
If you’re a discerning notebook user, you’ll know the Moleskine name. If you’re a creative, you know the importance of grasping inspiration when it strikes. Bringing the two together, Flow by Moleskine is a practical and artful note-taking app that couples elegant design with powerful features.
Offering an endless workspace that scrolls horizontally, Flow adds a hidable interface to help you stay focused on the task at hand, colours (from Corellian Gray to Pink Raspberry) for every last pen, and more paper options than a big-city print shop.
The app is a collaboration between Moleskine and app developer Bonobo, built remotely by a team scattered all over the globe. Here, Bonobo’s cofounder Michael Del Borrello explains how the team came together to create Flow’s sharp design and infinite ambitions.
We felt that no existing drawing apps had that magic combination of sophisticated rendering engine and elegant interface. They were either too simple (the tools didn’t feel realistic) or too complex (offering professional art tools).
We wanted a true digital notebook, one that had enough power to be an everyday companion but without every conceivable option.
With a notebook, if you’re truly in the zone you can just turn the page and continue your train of thought. When you’re working digitally and run out of space, the only solution is to tap out of your document and navigate through menus to create a new one. That breaks your flow. The obvious choice was to have infinite-size documents in both dimensions, because it’s digital. Space is free!
But when we prototyped this, we found it was really easy to get lost. Locking our canvas into a horizontal axis gave a natural sense of narrative – just like flipping through a real notebook.
We felt so passionate about the continual horizontal document that we rebuilt our entire drawing engine from scratch. We could only achieve it by using the graphics acceleration available with Metal. We digitised real Moleskine paper to accurately mimic the textures. And we spent countless hours with physical tools and paper next to our iPads, testing how they felt and tuning the drawing engine to match.
The colour system was a challenge. It was important that the controls in Flow didn’t recall high-end production apps and professional industry tools. We wanted them to invoke a sense of playfulness and fun. We also understood that while a professional designer or artist may know how lovely #E84652 is, their creativity could benefit from being free of that technical presentation.
Using colour digitally can often feel like an arbitrary process – there are literally millions to choose from. A core concept was to create your own personal set of tools, a virtual pencil case, and labeling the colour reinforced this idea. We didn’t want people to just use the pencil tool – we wanted them to use their pencil tool.
When people are working on an idea, they often say, “I need a pen and paper”. We wanted them to reach for Flow instead.