Pen brands that genuinely deliver a unique experience are far and few as pens seemingly imitate the same classic shapes—cigar shapes, long flat top shapes, and conical shapes at the finial and bottom of the pen barrel, which have dominated several pen silhouettes for decades. Of course, there are numerous variations of these classic shapes and several interpretations using varying acrylic materials and even metal or ebonite materials. One brand emerged in 2016 that approached pen-making in an individualized way by using distinct methods and materials to separate their pens appearance from their competitors. The brand I am referring to is the Russian born BENU pen company founded by Alex Semanin and Kate Dmitrieva.
The Team Behind BENU
Both Semanin and Dmitrieva have extensive career backgrounds in watch, jewelry, and accessory design and manufacture. Dmitrieva runs BENUs marketing, sales, customer service, and business operations while Semanin is BENUs chief designer. Semanin’s professional career has been devoted to making and restoring beautiful objects including a tenure restoring 16th and 17th century western art and antique ceramics at the Ulyanovsk Regional Art Museum located in Russia’s Volga region. In addition to his professional experience, upon closer inspection of BENU pens, notably the Briolette collection, Semanin’s hobby of collecting unique stones and rare minerals has deeply influenced many of BENUs pen and accessory designs.
Now that we are a bit more familiar with the background of BENU, let us now examine the results that manifest in their pens, beginning with the Euphoria model. The latest Euphoria pen is named after a beverage called Bourbon on the Rocks. You are imagining amber liquid poured onto ice cubes in a short transparent glass, are you not? Now imagine that image in your mind translated into a pen—a pen of faceted transparent amber resin that features metallic foils suspended with in the material. Imagine that same resin material, this time colorless, with the same shimmering fragments. That pen has transformed into Vodka on the Rocks. Both pens are a sight to behold, especially when they encounter sunlight. Not only do BENU pens relish the sunlight, but some pen models also absorb the sunlight, and reveal their glow-in-the-dark properties in a blackened room!
BENU writing instruments are not intended to be rigid and serious but instead are evocative of playfulness by employing unique shapes. In fact, the BENU Scepter dismisses traditional fountain pen structures and embraces an unusual twirling silhouette. The Scepter pen line embodies exactly what the name suggests—a shape completely meant to simulate a majestic staff, an emblem of invincible power. BENU’s scepter interpretation is an ergonomically designed spiraling pen comprised of glitter embedded into regally hued acrylic materials. This pen is undeniably suited for writers seeking a staff worthy of wielding their writing powers.
According to Bryce Gillett of Luxury Brands of America the US distributor of BENU, the best-selling model currently is the Talisman. Embodying ideas of fantastic tales and mystical mythologies, Talisman pens are named after objects intended to bring the beholder luck, protection, as well as other desirable outcomes, which include familiar monikers like Dragon’s Blood and Peacock Ore. Still utilizing unconventional materials within their in-house resins including shiny foils and contrasting color variations like green and orange, the final product, like all BENU pens, are hand polished to enhance light reflecting materials.
Each BENU pen features a Schmidt stainless steel nib, plastic feed, and converter. What is attractive about BENU pens though is the amount of excitement that BENU enthusiasts express regarding their writing experiences. I have used Schmidt nibs before on other branded fountain pens and they do not perform as significantly as the Schmidt nibs installed in BENU pen models. Each BENU pen I have writes effortlessly straight out of the box. Hard starts are nearly non-existent with these pens as well. Two BENU Euphoria pens that I own are continually stored in color coordinated pen holders (because it looks cool and reminds me of crystals from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude) and every time I unscrew the cap, I am happy to report that the pen writes without any hard starts.
Though BENU’s collections appear kitschy and unorthodox for many conservative fountain pen users, BENU pens possess many standards that we expect pen companies to offer end users. The brand stands behind their products and offer lifetime warranties against defective manufacture. These features communicate to writers that BENU offers quirky and whimsical pens, and they are serious about the products they create. BENU pens are not temporary throw-away objects, they are intended to bring smiles to pen enthusiasts for many, many years.
Special thanks to Alex Semanin, Kate Dmitrieva, and Bryce Gillett for answering my questions.