people The collector's point of view

The collector’s point of view: Toros Zadik

We are incredibly thrilled to start this new column on inkstable talking about the real promoters of the world of fine writing instruments: the collectors. And we are proud to start with one of the most impressive collections that I have seen so far. The collection of Toros Zadik is an absolute reference in the world of writing instruments. And the way he celebrates them has only few equals, if any. Join me in a journey made of beautiful design objects and deep reflections about the importance of writing instruments in life.
Toros welcomes us in his premises in Rafz, where he runs his architecture and real estate business. A pretty town close to the border between Switzerland and Germany. Even though, the meeting room where we met is full of marvelous furniture from Vitra, Flos, Cassina and USM, the entire attention is immediately captured by what you can see in the images below. A celestial vision for every writing instruments enthusiast. A showcase for 112 personally selected fountain pens from every possible manufacturer and theme. I can hardly describe how it feels like to enter such a room where the attention, for once, isn’t captured by the design icons you are surrounded by but by these fountain pens in front of you. Sounds like a dream, right?
The showcase
Well, Toros immediately introduces our conversation by telling us that he has created this showcase 2 years ago and that the meeting room we are just seating in is frequently used for meetings with customers, partner and investors and that, despite the interest of the participants, almost everyone acknowledges the fact that writing instruments are an integral part of everyone’s life. And this makes such a collection not pretentious but rather intellectual, almost cultural. In fact, he has got only positive feedback so far, also from people that are not enthusiastic fountain pen users. And you have to know that Toros was already a well established watch collector way before he was collecting writing instruments. On the day we met, he was wearing a magnificent, black coated Zenith El Primero with a rough textile strap in camel and the japanese pens he is using at the moment were all over the waistcoat and the shirt. A joy for every lover of beautiful things.
Early years
Toros’ relationship with writing instruments starts in the mid 1990’ies when he makes a gift to himself to celebrate a new manager position. And, guess what, the fountain pen he has chosen was a Montblanc 149 since this is THE fountain pen to own. As we have extensively written on a post earlier this year, probably the most iconic fountain pen we can think about. By his own admission, he hasn’t used it a lot in the beginning. It was more a “trophy” for an important achievement, so to say. Time passes and a couple of years later, as Toros was deeply interested in ancient Egyptian culture, Montblanc releases a declination of the Meisterstück called “Ramses II”. Immediately Toro’s attention was captured and he decided to acquire this piece as natural consequence of his interest in the topic. A year later, he also bought a Omas because he was interested in the material they are made of, celluloid. But apart another few additions to the collection, in particular from Montblanc, stuff like a mechanical pencil, a ballpoint pen and similar, up to more or less 10 pieces in total, Toros again had a break from acquiring new writing instruments. Until the end of the 2000’s, as he decided to properly store his writing instruments in a collector box.
The turning point
Around 2009, Toros was looking for a proper collector box for his, at the time, “tiny” collection of around 10 writing instruments. While he was flipping through a magazine called “Scriptura”, which was basically a shiny magazine released once a year with a selection of all the most trendy and beautiful writing instruments for that year, he came across a brand producing collector boxes for writing instruments and watches called Naldi Swiss. As soon as he has seen this and figured out where to buy the precious boxes, the boutique Style – Writing & Luxury goods in Zug, he managed to get there on the next possible occasion. He organized an appointment with the store owner and set off for Zug.
Short premise: Until then, Toros has bought his writing instruments mostly in stationary shops offering as well premium brands. But from an experience point of view, this was more a standardized kind of “Get in-chose-pay and leave” sequence. No explanation of the materials or history or any other kind of detail about the writing instrument to buy.
With this in mind, let’s go back to Toros’ first visit in a dedicated boutique with passionate owners serving you. “A world has been opened to me!” Toros says. “All these sophisticated and precious writing instruments around you… a joy.” A passion was born. From that moment on, Toros frequently visited the boutique, even weekly, he says. And from that moment on, his collection started to grow exponentially. Toros bought the first Edelberg Sloop, just to mention an example of his great passion for innovative solutions.
The relationship to the pens
And here the conversation becomes much more intriguing. Yes, because Toros starts to talk about his relationship to every single piece he owns. “The know-how transfer builds a relationship to every writing instrument.” says Toros. To know what has inspired a designer or an artisan in building this or the other piece creates a special relation to the respective writing instruments that becomes a witness of a specific occasion of period of time. And this, further feeds the passion of these little pieces of art that we may use every day. Now that we are talking about using the writing instruments every day, there is one thing that is fundamental for Toros in regard to all his fountain pens: the usability. Toros must be able to use every pen he owns for the scope they been made for. To write. Interestingly, he has told us about his experience with the Montblanc Homage to Homer, that features a horse head on the shaft and is, from his point of view, not ergonomic enough to be used properly. And therefore, it has been discarded from his “wishlist”. This just to illustrate, that for Toros, the function still plays a fundamental role in his buying process.
The books
Yes, Toros uses all the pens he owns. And he does it in a way that deserves a subheading. You have to know that Toros “mantra” is that if something sticks when writing, it interrupts the flow of thoughts. And during our conversation, at some point, Toros picks a big, 4cm thick leather book and shows us his notes made in a way that I would describe as artistic. Every Project he works on is celebrated with a title in different colors and with a structure that recalls the old books from the 18th and 19th century where you can see from far what the important points are and the closer you get to the book the more you can dive into the details of the notes. Every color and ink has a meaning. “Writing down the thoughts, the events and every detail related to a specific project helps me to focus on the milestones the important things.” And when he tells us that he has filled already 12 books like this, my mind definitely blows up. 12 books that could be exhibited in a museum, so beautiful and sophisticated. This activity helps him to keep the demanding and hectic working day in order. In this way, what is loose in the head is captured.
Wrap up
I can assure you, that the 2 hours Toros has dedicated to us have flown away. So many interesting details and anecdotes that I could probably create a post that would take you over an hour to read. But the final remarks of Toros are as interesting as the whole conversation. At the moment he is very much interested and focused on Japanese writing instruments, such as Namiki, Sailor and Pilot, because of the excellent flow on the paper. The Namiki Emperor in black Urushi is considered more a trophy rather than a pure writing instrument. Otherwise he feels compassion for every fountain pen that is not fulfilling its scope. And I think that this sentence properly summarizes Toros’ approach to writing instruments. He considers them usable pieces of art. And we can’t agree more. Thanks to people like him, we hope to be able to bring the fine writing instruments back to the place they deserve in the society. Because… voice fades away – written words make thoughts become reality.
About the person: Toros Zadik and his wife, Romy Wurzel, successfully manage “alpha zentaur immobilien ag” in Rafz, Zurich, as well as its subsidiary, “zadik architekten ag”, and employ around 20 people. The company is well established regionally but also operates nationwide. For the two ETH architects, their profession is also their vocation.

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