And now, as they say, for something a little different. Fountain pens lead to paper, which leads to wanting to use both, but to do that one needs something to write. Fortunately there is no shortage of stuff in my brain that is far safer outside my brain. This has led me to paper planning, I’ll talk about how I plan later (my system is a customized version of GTD with a big ole mashup of digital and analog tools), right now I want to talk about my prime analog tool.
I started planning on paper because my digital system just wasn’t enough, and when you are used to using stunning works of art like the fountain pens I’ve amassed over the years, a cheap notebook just doesn’t cut it. (Especially since the paper in a cheap notebook fails miserably at fountain pen use. To make a long story short I started with a Hobonichi which quickly became a journal, not a planner, tried a Kikki K planner that I found poorly built and nauseatingly bulky, and finally stumbled (through Instagram) on a company out of Italy called Gillio. I was hooked. I was also a little sticker shocked. As with pens, my first instinct is always to buy used and save a good bit of money. My first Gillio I bought used through a Facebook group, it was a Slim, meaning it held Filofax Personal inserts but was very, very thin with just 13mm rings.
As my analog system grew I decided I really wanted to try the regular sized Personal Gillio, and then I saw photos of someone’s Aubergine Croc and that was the end of that. I have never, ever like crocodile leather. But something about it seemed utterly perfect and I found myself the only bidder on a slightly worn Aubergine Croc on eBay. The auction ended at $135, a princely sum for a planner, but a tiny fraction of what that particular planner costs new.
It is even more beautiful in person. The leather is soft, the pebbly croc texture tactile and pleasant. The leather is subtle without being shapeless. The color is reminiscent of dusky antique roses, which is odd because “aubergine” means purple, the sort of dark purple of an eggplant specifically. I have no explanation for the name choice of this color, it really would be better named rose. The smell… is the only drawback. Something about the dye process for the matt colored crocodile leather leaves behind a very distinct scent. It isn’t necessarily unpleasant but I could see someone finding it so. I’ve gotten used to it, and it has aired out a good bit since I’ve been using it for a few weeks. But unlike my slim Gillio, I do not sniff the leather. 😉
Gillio’s are impeccable, my croc is no different. The rings are so tight I have a hard time opening them, but that means they also don’t gap or catch pages and should remain like that for years to come. The pockets are perfectly thought out, their detail and finishing exacting. The compagna has a total of four credit card pockets, two secretarial pockets, a zippered pocket, a small slip pocket and a large pocket the whole length of the back a bit like a wallet which is great for stashing paper, notes, or money on the go. Storage space is not an issue and is well thought out to keep everything organized.
The pen loop is half leather and half elastic. Many planners lack the elastic, making their pen loops, which are almost all designed for slim rollerballs or ballpoints useless to me. The Gillio’s elastic means that even a decently girthy fountain pen fits comfortably. I currently carry my Pilot Vanishing Point Raden very comfortably in that pen loop. (Even a Montblanc 146 fits, though I would not go larger.) tIn short, there is nothing (short of that strange smell) to not like about this planner.
Prices for a Compagna (Filofax personal size) planner from Gillio start around 236 Euros without VAT (for those of us in the US or other non-EU countries). Shipping is roughly 25 euros to the US. With today’s currency exchange that comes out to about $282 for the cheapest Compagna, shipping included, prices go up from there for the more expensive colors, or for croco print leather like this one. If, like me, you find that a little too expensive I suggest trying to buy used, but either way, I whole heartedly recommend Gillio for those looking for a high quality, long lasting planner.
And the bonus? The inserts that Gillio includes with your planner are fully fountain pen friendly. No feathering, no bleed through. (Large nibs and dark colored inks will cause shadowing because the paper is fairly thin, but that’s unavoidable and even my beloved Tomoe River shadows!) Kudos to Gillio for not going cheap with the paper, it is so rare to find these days.