Compendium: form and function

January 4 2017

About seven years ago, I worked with a smart, gorgeous woman who was the epitome of ‘put together’. There was never a hair out of place, she was always presented immaculately, she had perfect handwriting and was an absolute delight inside and out. (The only element that made her human was she kept a pair of slippers under the desk to rest her weary feet from trekking about in stilettos!) I was in awe of her polish. While there will be some elements I’ll have no chance of emulating (the neat handwriting, *ahem*) one essential accessory that pulled the togetherness together so masterfully was a compendium.

What’s a compendium?

Sometimes referred to as a folio, compendiums are typically shaped to hold A4 documents but also have pockets with space for a pen, business cards and other office essentials like a tablet or phone. They are a one stop shop station for your work needs (if your work involves meetings and writing things down).

At my next job after working with the exquisite lady I described above, I shouted myself a brand new compendium and for the last six and a bit years it has been an absolute staple of my working life.

Office Luxury or practical necessity?

Arguably, a leather, possibly designer, compendium is a luxury. But there is no accessory I’m carrying more as I hustle between meetings and often also buildings. My compendium holds:

  • my notebook, which is easily replaced when full
  • any loose papers or print outs I may have,
  • business cards,
  • a couple of pens,
  • in the zip up section I always have a few tissues stashed as well as
  • some $ (in case a regular meeting becomes a coffee meeting),
  • a tea bag or two (because I’m a tea snob),
  • a couple of sticks of gum,
  • there is spot for my phone and
  • somewhere I can stash my staff card/lanyard.

It zips up, so nothing falls out and I have a little extra confidentiality around my notes which can sometimes be important in my role. As if this weren’t argument enough, it also gives me that highly-desired feeling of having my sh*t together.

Because it has everything I need, I don’t need to take my handbag if I’m going to a meeting offsite, gives makes me feel more lets-get-to-business. I’ve also gone compendium-in-hand to interviews in the hope of making a polished first impression. (Got the job! Both times!)

Clearly, I have big compendium love.

Once upon a time, it was really tricky to find compendium that ticked all the boxes in terms of being quality, practical and stylish enough that you were happy to be glued to it 40 hours a week. Not anymore! A bunch of fantastic options have come to the market!

Here are 11 options I love right now:

Oroton Melanie Saffiano Compendium

Oroton Melanie A4 folio in bright red, $88.50 (down from $295!!!) Also comes in navy in this saffiano finish which doesn’t scratch! Golden! Mine is nearly identical to this, I’ve had it two years and it’s still looks great! I am also a firm believer that red is the colour that goes with errrrything.

Oroton Melanie Pebble Compendium

Oroton’s Melanie a4 folio again, in the pebble finish in ROSE GOLD. $88.50 (also down from $295!!) also comes in gold, white and black. And has a bunch of fabulous accessories like luggage tags and briefcases and totes. Clearly I am obsessed.

Kikki K Compendium

Kikki K’s gothenburg a4 compendium in black, $120. This has leather trimmings but is not leather. Kikki K seems to change up their range fairly regularly.

Jonathan Adler Compendium

Jonathan Adler via Officeworks, $20. A great economic option!

Hunt Compendium

Hunt A4 Compendium in tan, $195. Like that this one includes an iPad sleeve! Also available in black.

ETSY Compendium

This hand-stitched compendium is from Etsy brand CPScraftStudio comes in a range of sizes including A4 (not pictured) for $164.30.

Luxury options

Louis Vuitton Compendium Pouchette

Louis Vuitton Pouchette, $850. This is more a pouch than a compendium but expect will serve the same purpose. I *almost* excluded it on the basis of LV describing it as ‘for the modern man’. You know. Cause a lady can’t carry a pouch!?

Smythson Compendium

As luxurious as they come: Smythson’s Wilde A4 Zip Up Writing Folio is made from Alligator and will set you back £4,695. Not even joking.

Personal Touch

Love that these options include monogramming!!

Smythson Mara Compendium

Smythson Mara A4 Zip Writing Folder in Magenta, 40% off at £297. Monogramming extra.


The Daily Edited Compendium

The Daily Edited offers their compendium in stone (pictured), black and midnight navy for $229.95. This also is in the scratch-resisten saffiano leather. Love it.

Treat Yo’self OR a great gift!

My parting thought is that beyond treating yourself to an accessory which will quickly slay it’s price-per-wear value, a compendium also makes a fabulous graduation gift or promotion present. It’s a great farewell gift for a colleague headed to a new role, and also a great work-appropriate congratulations.

So that’s it! Do you use a compendium? Know someone who does? Want one yourself? Want all of them including the $10,000 one? Are you also thinking that if you can afford a $10k compendium you probably don’t need to be at work in the first place? I welcome ALL of your thoughts below! 

p.s. This post is not sponsored but really should be, given my excessive compendium feels. I will always tell if you if my content is sponsored, and seemingly also when it should be.


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