Pens and paper are things many architects are deeply interest in. There are plenty of people who are more crazed about fountain pens than I am. But I have 5 of them now, and I definitely enjoy using them. But I’m also a notebook nerd. So the offer of an opportunity to review Grids & Guides (Red): A Notebook for Visual Thinkers (Grids and Guides) wasn’t a chance I was going to pass up.

This is a red cover version of an already published book from Princeton Architectural Press, and they’re promoting it (with the red cover) as a Valentine’s Day gift for that special architect, designer, or other notebook aficianado in your life. (And, crass commercialism disclosure: I’m using an Amazon Affiliate link there for it, and the copy I received for review was a complimentary review copy from the publisher.) Maybe it’s weird to review an empty notebook, but this is more than just blank pages.


I’m definitely a fan of the half-page size (5.5″ x 8.5″ or thereabouts; A5-ish for the non-NorthAmericans), and this falls right in that sweet spot for me. It’s a hardbound book with red cloth cover. The front is embossed with a square grid pattern, which is a nice touch, giving it an unobtrusive but distinctive front, unlike many other blank notebooks, which end up upside down and backwards half the time.

The notebook has 144 pages, with 8 different kinds of grids, including regular squares in 3 different sizes, plus a dot grid, as well as log-log, diamond, and isometric grids, and a circle pattern grid made with overlapping circles.


The variety of grids in the book doesn’t make it that suitable for a working notebook. A consistent grid style (be that lines, or dots, or dashed lines, or whatever) is preferable for a working notebook. But as a book for experimentation and for collecting new ideas, the variety in this notebook is wonderful.  In addition to the variety of grids, there are section breaks with diagrams and notes about knot tying, a world map, the Golden Ratio, and more.

This isn’t going to replace the more regular (and less interesting) grid notes I use for more pragmatic purposes.  But the mix of grids encourages a kind of creative exploration that will make this a wonderful general purpose idea notebook, and this will be the next one I start using for those purposes.