I don’t remember the exact moment that Moleskine journals made their way into my family, but pretty soon we all had several; blank journals, day planners, address books, grid paper, and beyond. The sleek black journal seemed so ingenious. It was simple, it stayed closed with an attached piece of elastic, and best of all there was an almost secret pocket at the back to put a variety of small objects that you didn’t want to lose. Once I put a Moleskine journal in my bag, it never left.

Moleskines have made their way into the hearts of many imaginative souls; poets, painters, and ponderers. The little black book is conducive to creation; the pages fill up with the owner’s preferred media — words, watercolor, charcoal, glued ticket stubs — and soon the journal is more than just an inanimate accessory, it takes on the personality of its proprietor.

To celebrate the spirit of the journals, Moleskine hosts the annual Detour exhibition , a project dedicated to traveling culture and creativity worldwide. Internationally renowned artists, architects, film directors, graphic designers, illustrators and writers are invited to submit their own Moleskines which go on display to the public. The extremely personal journals and sketchbooks are displayed in transparent boxes, allowing the visitor to leaf through the pages after donning protective white gloves.

Held in Paris from April 24 – May, 2008 , this year’s Detour exhibition features the creative notebooks of design icons such as Christian Lacroix and Yves Behar. All contributors were asked to compile sketchbooks with insider tips for hungry nomads. “They are asked to invent an itinerary for an expedition, a map of a tour, a daily adventure, the discovery of something to look forward to, the beginning of a trip, the signs of well known or unknown visionary places, the exploration or the conquest of a region never visited before, as well as something in the city constantly seen and beloved.”

The end product is a trip into the imaginative soul of each contributor. But the exhibition doesn’t stop there. Aspiring artists and Moleskiners are invited to submit their own sketchbooks and journals as a part of myDetour. Submissions will be accepted during the Paris Detour exhibition. At the exhibition’s completion, 10 journals will be selected by a jury based on their aesthetic and artistic merit and be displayed at the next myDetour event, to be held in Berlin.

Not only is the exhibition an artistic endeavor, but a humanitarian one as well. Detour supports Lettera 27 , a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the right to literacy, to education and the access to knowledge and information,

 all over the world and especially in the most deprived areas. All exhibition artists donate their time and notebooks to Lettera 27, creating a Detour Archive for the organization that creates resources to support new projects in Africa.

For those who can’t make it to Paris, photos of the exhibition will be online. You can also peruse photos from previous exhibitions held in London and New York. If you aren’t already a Moleskine addict, it probably won’t take long.