(writing)culture best of history

Aurora Hastil – An almost forgotten masterpiece

The son of some big names in design. Milestone of Made in Italy. Aurora Hastil has represented for over 20 years, the world reference point for technique and style. Permanently exhibited at MOMA in New York. Also sold by Montblanc. Today it’s an almost forgotten pen.

When unveiled in 1970, Hastil was a bolt from the blue. Nothing before her in the world of the fountain pen tried to venture such extreme lines. For the first time, technology and design merged almost completely, creating a product that is still unique today.

Development of idea and meeting Marco Zanuso 
In 1970 Aurora called Marco Zanuso, at the time, the most quoted and awarded Italian designer in the world to develop a new idea of fountain pen.
Marco Zanuso develops the idea of a never-view and revolutionary fountain pen: “A simple metal cylinder without any type of decoration, ring, greek band etc…”. Nervy shapes and minimalist lines. Basically a monolith of metal. A very “2001 A Space Odyssey” idea.

From the raw idea to the fountain pen
As ingenious as it was, Marco Zanuso’s idea was nothing more than a rolled tinfoil around a stick. It was necessary to transform the rolled tinfoil into a real fountain pen. Aurora was able to give life to that raw idea using all the technical knowledge acquired in over 50 years of life. Everything in the Hastil was patented. The line of the pen, the closing between the barrel and the cap, the clip with spring release, the brakes, the shape and position of the nib, the packaging. An deployment of patents designed to protect the project under all points of view.

0.6mm and the brakes
0.6mm is the difference in diameter between the top of the cap and the bottom of the barrel. A very slight taper necessary to allow writing with cap posted. The brakes were necessary to ensure that the cap, once posted, remained firmly in place and did not slips off.

Paolo Barale, Guala Stampi, Cini & Nils and the box
Paolo Barale, an internationally renowned Turin advertiser and curator of Aurora’s advertising image, who understood that the new fountain pen must have an equally innovative packaging.
After all, Aurora was not new to offering aesthetically appealing boxes and cases such as the polychrome aluminum ovoidal shape of the 88 or the polychrome aluminum squared shape of the Duo-Cart. The Hastil box was also carefully studied in terms of shapes, colors and contrasts. Exterior made of brushed aluminum, was very bright; the interior, on the other hand, appeared very dark. The deep black interior highlights the brushed metal fountain pen.
Step by step, the importance of the box grew with the development of the pen, leading to the involvement of other names such as Cini & Nils and Guala Stampi, respectively leaders in the world of furnishing objects and molds. 

The Secret of the box
Opening the box, on the left side we find a guillotine system that holds two international cartridges signed by Aurora and the converter that Aurora calls Trik-Trak. On the right, we find the Hastil in its shining “natural metal” livery.

Aurora Hastil meets the MOMA in New York 
The worldwide success of Hastil lit the spotlight of the MOMA in New York, which chose her as an exponent of Italian design in the 1970s. Hastil becomes the first fountain pen in history permanently exhibited in the collection of the famous museum.

Hastil with a white star (The Montblanc affair)
In 1970 Montblanc was not sailing in good waters. Sales of its products were scarce. His fountain pens had no appeal. So the maker of pens with the white star asked to make Hastil with the white star. Today the Hastil Montblanc are very rare pens, sought by the most curious collectors and in search of details.

Hastil of the Rising Sun (Japanese Hastil) 
When in 1983 “circa” Aurora launched the Hastil Lacca (Lacquer) collection and wanted to create a product that lives up to the name Hastil, it was decided to make the lacquers (tortoiseshell, blue, red) directly in Japan. These pens have the name Aurora written in Japanese ideograms, positioned near the brakes. 

Many brands have tried to redesign the Hastil but up to today, all failed. Many Aurora Hastil enthusiasts testify that the newer attempts made are only ugly clones of the original Hastil spirit. Is it truly possible to replicate the success of an iconic fountain pen, also exposed to the MOMA? Will there ever be a pen company that will be able to rival the success that the Aurora experienced during its zenith? I think Nope.


Thanks to Riccardo Murrau and foolish magazine Italia

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