Did you know that the next big thing in vinyl records are pencils and pen points? I’m not trying to be obtuse, although it comes naturally. Pencil consumption is booming with such surprising intensity that some manufacturers have been caught without enough required stock (and with a few exceptions most are offshore manufacturers). The reason is apparently the even larger growth of coloring books for adults as a stress-relieving non-computer activity.
Ballpoint and fountain pens have always been popular for various and equally enjoyable reasons. Professional letterers and writers are not the only consumers; the general public use the instruments that allow for self-expression. For instance, I always loved the feel of a Bic Click, and now Uni-ball Signos cause me to write more.
What we have lost, however, are the great old pen point and pencil packaging of years ago. They might not have been very special when commonplace, but today, what I wouldn’t give for a box of Cyklop brand by Koh-I-Noor. They just feel so substantial. The others here are from various companies in Austria, Italy and Germany, where they knew how to package.
Maybe my fetish for these derives from when, as a 2- and 3-year-old, I would look out my Stuyvesant Town apartment window facing Avenue C on 14th Street, and see a huge billboard on what is now a long-demolished pencil factory replaced by Con Ed. However, after a long search for a photograph (even a phone number), this too may be a wishful dream.
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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →