Having now worked in the fountain pen industry for just under two months, I have had a reconnection with design that I had lacked in previous roles. I look at the merits of pens and find the subtlety of the designers’ inspiration in the craftmanship of each piece.
But I take it one step further these days.
With not being able to travel internationally for nearly two years now, I am anchored to my home instead. My mind tends to wander to far-off places, where I explore only through books and documentaries now. Pens have taken on a new meaning, a sort of passport for me. I think of their design not in the context of their brand, but in the context of global inspiration.
For this reason, I have selected five pens and corresponding cities that they remind me of. Perhaps you, too, can find a bit of escapism in these pens as I have.
Esterbrook Accutron – Reykjavik, Iceland
Recently reviewed by Inkstable, the Esterbrook Accutron is the latest collaboration between the American pen company and the watch brand owned by the Citizen Watch Group. When I look at the sparkling body of this oversized Estie, I am reminded of the night skies just outside of Iceland’s capital city. With a cosmic blend of greens and golds, the Aurora Borealis is just within reach when holding this pen. There is a subtlety to this pen that betrays its size, much like Iceland itself.
Montegrappa Elmo “Fantasy Blooms” in Iris Yellow – Sorrento, Italy
Having had some of my best nights (and worse hangovers) in Sorrento, I have a love for the Amalfi region. Montegrappa’s Elmo is reminiscent of the lemon-scented Coast with its vibrant barrel and contrasting marbled veining. When looking at this pen, I see myself under a red-and-white-striped canopy, dashing off a postcard to my parents back home. Perhaps a limoncello is in hand, an aperitivo just before my scialatielli alle vongole arrives.
Sailor Kabazaiku – Seattle, Washington
Quite opposite of Sorrento is Seattle. The coastal city that sits in the upper Pacific Northwest of America is an often-forgotten urban area and I have never quite figured out why that could be. A city that’s blended in sea, industry, and forest, there’s a bit of everything for any traveler. The Sailor Kabazaiku reminds me of Seattle for this reason. With its brass finishes and cherry bark body, it is itself a paradox of design, one that it both warm and cool at once, much like Seattle itself.
Montblanc Great Characters The Beatles – Bergen, Norway
Many Beatles’ tunes deal with the subjects of peace and love. To me, it makes sense to pair Montblanc’s tribute pen with Norway, given the country’s constant ranking as one of the happiest countries on earth. Not only that, but the design itself has many similarities to the Norwegian city. Consider the fjord. These inlets that circumscribe the area are often dotted with colorful houses and are now synonymous with Nordic design. Perhaps you’ll be crooning along with Lennon to “Strawberry Fields Forever” (or as they say in Norwegian, “Jordbærmarker for Alltid”).
Otto Hutt design06 in Pale Pink – London, England
England and Germany have discovered elegance in different ways. The latter tends to believe that form follows function, while the reverse is true for the former. Otto Hutt’s design06 in Pale Pink, though, is a softer, almost feminine approach to German design. The pink body and rose gold accents remind me of a bygone Britain, one of aristocrats, Brideshead Revisited, and the Mitford sisters. But, like any English rose, the strength is just below the surface. Once the cap is off this pen, one can see the intricacy and ethos behind Otto Hutt’s design principles.