compulsive shopping

I Can’t Stop Buying Trompe L’Oeil Notepads and Sticky Notes

Photo: Courtesy Retailer

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.

b.b.begonia Leaf_Ginkgo -Sticky Notes, Yellow, Large

A version of the ginkgo-shaped sticky notes that started it all.

b.b.begonia Leaf_Ginkgo -Sticky Notes, Green

They also come in green.

Wrapables Cherry Blossom Sticky Notes

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.

Cheese Notepads, Original

There are plenty of food-inspired notepad optical illusions, like this stack of paper that looks like a hunk of Swiss cheese — and each sheet looks like an individual slice.

Gouda Ideas Notepad

If you’d prefer sheets of paper without a sticky back, Urban Outfitters sells this cheese-shaped notepad for all of your Gouda ideas.

Doiy Salami Notes

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.

Bread Sticky Notes

Finish off your paper sandwich with some bread-shaped sticky notes.

Pad of Butter

Or you can make toast with this Pad of Butter, made out of a pad of paper.

Oreo Cookie Notepad

For those with a sweet tooth, there are also pastry-inspired paper products, like this Oreo-shaped notepad …

Kikkerland Cupcake Memo Pad

… And this 3-D cupcake from Kikkerland that stands up vertically on your desk, just like a real dessert would.

Apple Sticky Notes

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, there are plenty of fruit-shaped sticky notes, like these apples …

Lemon Sticky Notes

… Or these mislabeled lemon slices (since they’re actually green slices of lime).

3D Fruit-Shaped Memo Pads

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.

Lettuce Sticky Notes

You can get vegetable-shaped notepads, too, like this head of lettuce.

Wrapables Band Aid Sticky Notes

On the slightly grosser end of the spectrum, there are these Band-Aid-shaped sticky notes.

Set of 4 Crystal Sticky Note Pads

These crystal-shaped sticky notes are arguably the least realistic-looking, since they’ve got a watercolor-looking design, but the overall effect is still striking.

3M Pop-Up Note Dispenser

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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I Can’t Stop Buying Trompe L’Oeil Notepads