I belong to a long line of New York writers and editors who love things that look like other things, like mayonnaise that looks like a tube of toothpaste, or teeny-tiny replicas of everyday objects, like a bottle of Windex or a banana. But my true obsession lies in a specific subset of these trompe l’oeil items: notepads and sticky notes.
I first discovered this distinctive type of stationery in Seoul, in a design shop that sold packs of sticky notes shaped like realistic-looking ginkgo and maple leaves. I thought it was a cute visual pun (loose-leaf paper), but a couple trips to Korean stationery stores later, I learned that the shapes of these illusory notepads weren’t limited to paper-based puns. There’s a seemingly endless variety of visual tricks played by these sheets of paper, including ones that look like slices of salami or Swiss cheese, Band-Aid-shaped sticky notes that could be stuck to a piece of paper instead of your arm, even 3-D notepads that are glued together to look like whole pieces of fruit.
Some might argue that these colorful, patterned Post-its are garish and hard to read, but I like them exactly because they’re almost impossible to ignore. I dare you to walk by what looks like a slice of cheese slapped onto the fridge and not stop to look at it. It’s certainly a more striking reminder to take out the trash than even a fluorescent, square Post-it note. And there’s something joyful about taking something pedestrian, like a note to send that check to your landlord, and slapping it on a piece of bread. Here are some of my favorite trompe l’oeil notepads that I already own and some I’ve got on my wish list.
A version of the ginkgo-shaped sticky notes that started it all.
They also come in green.
These cherry-blossom sticky notes come in two sizes, so you can either write notes on the full, large flower or the single, smaller petals.
This hunk-of-salami notepad has several hundred sheets of paper, so it’ll take you a long time to work through the whole link.
Or you can make toast with this Pad of Butter, made out of a pad of paper.
… And this 3-D cupcake from Kikkerland that stands up vertically on your desk, just like a real dessert would.
There are also 3-D fruit-shaped memo pads that can be split apart to look like sliced pieces of fruit, with seeds on the inside and all.
On the slightly grosser end of the spectrum, there are these Band-Aid-shaped sticky notes.
This is technically not a notepad shaped like something else, but a camera-shaped dispenser for regular-shaped Post-it notes, in case you want to ease into your collection of trompe l’oeil paper goods.
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