Van der Spek Custom Planner

closed with pen
Recently I was fortunate enough to receive a lovely custom Van der Spek planner in “Senior” size. Senior is very similar in size to A6, and since I have recently made a MAJOR zeitgeist shift to A6 size and purchased a Mulberry Agenda organizer (also A6…blog post on that forthcoming) I wanted something that could share the inserts I was using in it (since I spent several nights copying over the first half of the year onto them!).

In case you have not heard of them, Van der Spek is a small family business located in the Netherlands that creates their own high quality leather goods by hand.

By hand people!

Take a moment and check out this video on YouTube that highlights the care and craftsmanship that goes into everything this family makes.

For those of you in the ever-growing Mulberry Agenda fan club, but who are perhaps craving a bit of color or customization, here is the Van der Spek custom Senior as compared to a Mulberry in Agenda. Very close…you can see that the Mulberry is just a wee bit wider, as it is a true A6 size.

Van der Speck Senior Left, Mulberry Oak Agenda right

Van der Speck Senior Left, Mulberry Oak Agenda right

It is worth noting that, going forward, it will be possible to request a Senior that has the same dimensions as a Mulberry Agenda. This was sort of an experiment and Petra and I have exchanged emails and photos to get the size closer next time around. Just another example of how customer-centric and involved Van der Spek is as a company.

Anyway, as I was going for a classic, timeless look, I chose Italian nappa leather #6208 (Cuoio) inside and out, with contrast stitching done in #08. To further the customization, I also requested that the binder be widened to get it closer to A6 in size, and that the pen loop be larger so that it would fit my favorite multi pen or fountain pen with ease.

Both of those customizations did carry an extra cost, however it was nominal when compared to the value of having a planner EXACTLY the way you want it.

(Hint: this tricked out custom planner cost less than half of what a MB Agenda would run you. And that includes International shipping. Just sayin’.)

As is always the case with Van der Spek products, when it arrived, I was not disappointed. In fact, I may have actually gasped.

That leather smell is fantastic! To. Die. For. They should bottle it!

The Italian nappa leather is unbelievably soft and supple. It has a slightly “cushy” feel to it and since I elected to forego stiffener, the binder is luxuriously flexible, while still offering adequate support for writing in hand or on my lap.

The “Cuoio” color has a lush British Tan look to it that I just love.

closed front

closed back
Here is a close up of the contrast stitching.

contrast stitching

The interior has a wonderful complement of pockets. Inside the front cover are five vertical credit card slots, with a larger and quite roomy vertical pocket at the bottom. Behind this are two full-length horizontal slip pockets.

inside left

The back features another full length slip pocket, a nice deep vertical pocket and a partially elasticized pen loop. As I mentioned earlier, I had mine made slightly larger than normal to accommodate my penchant for fat pens.

inside back

Wonderfully soft and pliable, this binder lays completely flat the moment you take it out of the box. And also worth noting is that the closure strap does as well. This is a nice feature, as it is always neatly out of the way when writing on the right-hand pages.

open spread
Just to demonstrate just HOW soft and pliable this little custom beauty is, I took these photos! No stiffener indeed ; )

bendy cover

rolled up

Um….WOW right?!

This planner is a joy to use in my day-to-day life. The ample pockets make this a wonderful planner/wallet combo and the durable nappa leather needs no babying…any scuffs or scratches can be rubbed right out with your thumb.

"Oh noes...I scratched my planner!"

“Oh noes…I scratched my planner!”

"Fret not...scuffs and scratches rub right out!"

“Fret not…scuffs and scratches are no match for this planner!”

I opted to use my own inserts in my new custom Van der Spek, although there is an option to purchase VDS inserts right along with your planner.

Next time I will do this, as I have never tried their inserts and I really should. You know, for the sake of research 😉

I am using Franklin Covey “Her Point of View” monthly and weekly pages in Pocket size. As you can see, FC Pocket size is a bit narrower than the typical A6 size inserts this binder was made to fit, but the holes do line up perfectly and I am a person who needs monthly tabs, so I am quite happy with how they are working out.

open in use

Lots of room between tabs and pen loop

This planner has become my every day companion

This planner has become my every day companion

Really, I can’t say enough positive things about Van der Spek as a company, their stellar customer service, and the quality of the product they produce.

By hand.

Exactly how you want it.

Did I mention this planner was custom made for me and that I chose the type of leather, the leather color, stitching, whether I wanted gold hardware or silver (both will get you tight, snappy Krause rings by the way) and how large I needed my pen loop to be?

Everything about this planner makes me happy…because I selected everything about this planner. What a wonderful and unique experience it is to be able to start from scratch and design a productivity tool that is catered specifically to your needs.

And hey, I’m not going to lie…it is SO FUN to mix and match leather types, patterns and colors using the Van der Spek customization tool!

If you are a lover of planners and a fan of fine, hand crafted leather goods (not to mention customer care that is out of this world), then I urge you to go spend some time on the Van der Spek website. You’ll be glad you did.

Thank you to Petra Van der Spek and her family for creating the planner I have always dreamed of…and for being there to create whichever planner I can dream of next 😉

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lore
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 20:57:47

    LOVE this Yvonne!!! You said so eloquently what I’ve been chatting about for months on various threads. There is NO binder out there that has anything on the VDS binders, especially when you take in every. single. positive. quality there is about these wonderful little beauties! Great idea, bottle the smell – oh my gosh! The touch – yowsers I can’t leave mine alone! The looks – as beautiful as any. I don’t know of any luxury leather – I’m sure there are probsbly exotics I’ve not handled – that I’ve held or owned that have been any more pleasing to me than their napa or Italian. Or Buffalo. And the shiny croc! I am not a gushy person by nature, but I’ve been unapologetically goofy about these, The minute I moved into the first (of five, what can I say?) I was hooked!! The best thing about it was that I knew immediately that they were keepers and I could treat them accordingly. (You know, kind of like caring for a baby that belongs to you or family vs a stranger’s.) Thank you for such a great post and for sharing! (Sorry this is so long.)

  2. Tracy Reinhardt
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 21:03:24

    Oh wow, it’s even more beautiful then I thought – I really love this one. Brown is a perfect color… perfect. and love the pockets and all the changed you made

  3. Cheryl
    Aug 05, 2014 @ 22:24:55

    Wonderful review! The color you chose is also a favorite of mine…I’ve been lusting for a British Tan planner for two years and obviously Filofax hasn’t fulfilled my desires. Lol So, VDS it is!

  4. Marion white
    Aug 06, 2014 @ 05:42:58

    GREAT review Yvonne! Love everything about this planner!!

  5. Joshua LaPorte
    Aug 07, 2014 @ 00:55:14

    Looks fab. And I am SO intrigued about the little FC pages fitting inside. I’m still pretty hooked on my A5 (really 5.5×8.5) VdS but this is SO compelling!

  6. kanalt17
    Aug 09, 2014 @ 01:10:28

    And now of course I *need* one.

  7. Cruz
    Aug 09, 2014 @ 05:24:16

    Van der Spek products are just plain yummy. I can’t wait to get a VdS planner of my very own!

  8. Liz
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 08:48:22

    Hello I am new to the seemingly obsessive world of stationary..anyway I am after a6 plastic pockets for a 6 ring organiser or Filofax any clues as to where I can buy these? Many thanks Liz

  9. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 15:18:24

    hi liz 🙂

    filofax plastic pockets you can purchase directly on the filofax website or on ebay…but they do not offer an A6 size.

    i am having a difficult time myself finding plastic insertables for my A6 sizer planners, so if I find any i will certainly do a blog post about them!

  10. Joshua LaPorte
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 02:46:05

    You can buy various inserts in almost-A6 size from Succes in the Netherlands. Shipping to USA is awfully expensive, though.

  11. Joshua LaPorte
    Aug 18, 2014 @ 02:46:49

    Does Petra sell Van der Spek plastic inserts? I know she has them for A5 but did not ask about senior size.

  12. Liz Adamczyk Seiler
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 01:17:29

    I was sold when I saw your posts on FB and your YouTube videos Yvonne. How did you go about requesting the binder to be widened? Thanks and love it!!!

  13. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 01:23:03

    all you have to do is let Petra know when you email her your custom order. she knows exactly how wide to make it to fit A6 inserts 🙂

  14. Cheryl
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 18:46:49

    I’m still a bit confused as to why you have the senior ‘widened’? Is it because actual A6 inserts are too wide for the VDS senior? So what was the vds senior made for? Just their own inserts which I assume are narrower? I guess if you were planning on only using the FC pocket inserts which are narrower there would be no need to have it widened. I’ve been reading Steve’s latest blog posts about A6 and am trying to get a handle on why the vds senior is not a true A6 size and what kind of dilemma this poses when shopping for inserts. Do you recommend having the senior widened just so you have more insert options in the A6 size? Thank you for clarifying…my brain hasn’t processed all this yet!

    Great post by the way…very detailed and informative!

  15. thezeitgeistofzoe
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 19:03:19

    yes cheryl, the VDS “senior” inserts are narrower than standard A6 inserts. if you were to put, say, Mulberry inserts in a non-widened VDS senior the tabs would bump up against the pen loop and become bent.

    there is zero problem with FC pocket inserts, as they are quite narrow, but when i ordered this i intended to use it with Mulberry inserts, hence the request to widen it.

    now Petra knows the dimensions of a true A6, so it’s no big deal to request it to be widened…and yes, i would recommend it, just for flexibility with inserts : )

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