As part of our Behind the Designs series, we’d like to share with you some of our thinking behind the products we create. A couple years ago, we decided to stop merely selling pens and begin outfitting our customers with pens suited to their writing styles and preferences. Doing this would allow customers to gain far more from their writing by hand. We will always want our pens to be instruments of beauty, but now there’s more to the story here at Levenger. I’ve asked Mim Harrison, the editor of Levenger Press, to explain.
“May we outfit you with your writing instruments?”
If you’ve visited one of our bricks-and-mortar stores recently, you might have had this question put to you by one of our Pen Baristas. Or perhaps you noticed “Pen Outfitting” listed among our store’s offerings. That’s Levenger lexicon for: we’re not merely going to sell you a good pen; we’re going to see how you’d like your pens to perform in the various writing roles you need.
We also call it writing from the inside out.
Setting your Preferences
Many of us customize the software on our electronics, the homepage on our computer screens, the music on our iPods. Pen outfitting follows a comparable philosophy for your writing by hand.
Is your handwriting normally small or large? Do you write quickly or slowly? Does your hand favor a lightweight pen or a heavy one? A big barrel or a slender one?
Like setting your Preferences with your digital devices, all these factors make a difference in knowing which pens will work best for your real-life digits.
Where all this performance ramps up is in the refills. Nothing sounds quite as pedestrian as the word “refills” (in our offices we also call them cartridges, but if you have a better word, we’d love to hear). And yet these slender tubes of ink are like DNA that you can reprogram—not only with different ink colors but with different writing-point sizes and even different writing modes.
A ballpoint can take on the feel of a liquid ink rollerball, for example, with a rolling ball or Easy Flow refill. A roller ball mode can become a fiber tip mode, for a completely different feel. It’s all in the refills, which turn ballpoints and rollerballs into multi-taskers. (Granted, a fountain pen may be forever a fountain pen, but would you really want it any other way?)
Just like a smart phone, your pen becomes mutli-functional. It’s one argument of several for coming to, or coming back to, pens that are keepers rather than disposable tossers.
The new PC
It just makes sense to be outfitted with a wardrobe of pens. The one you favor for signatures and handwritten notes could well differ from the one that performs the best for longer note-taking. The one that’s best for you when you travel may be different from what you prefer to use at home.
These distinctions are comparable to the laptop-or-smart-phone model. Sometimes it makes more sense to use your laptop; other times it’s more convenient to rely just on your smart phone. Both have a place in your productivity repertoire.
Pens may be old-fashioned in that they’ve been around in one form or another for centuries, but that doesn’t make them obsolete. (The hands that hold them have been around even longer, and they’re still needed.)
As with our advanced Circa notebooks, pen outfitting is another form of PC, Levenger-style. Our PC stands for Productive Coexistence between high-tech and low. It’s based on the belief that power tools come in many forms.
Looks that work
What’s so appealing about pens as instruments of productivity is that they’re efficiency with aesthetics. Ultimately you buy pens because you love the way they write, feel in your hand, and look. We want the beauty of Levenger pens to be more than skin- deep.
So don’t merely buy pens from Levenger. Let us outfit your writing life instead.
We know that many customers may not be able to shop our bricks-and-mortar stores for pen outfitting. That’s why we created our refill sampler packs. For ballpoints, rollerballs and fountain pens, these economically-priced sampler kits allow you to try all our different writing modes in your own hand on your own time.
If you like a pen that deploys with a twist or click, choose one of our ballpoint pens—heavy or light, fat or thin, beautifully old fashioned or modern—and then use the ballpoint refill sampler pack to find the refill that’s just what you like.
If you like a pen with a cap, perhaps to use at your desk, choose a rollerball, and order the rollerball refill sampler pack to get the feel for different point sizes of roller balls and fiber tips. These range from spring-loaded fine points to 2 mm wide broad points—perfect for bold signatures.
All of our refills, by the way, are made in Germany by the Schmidt company, an established and respected name in the world of writing instruments. Before they ship us our refills, their Instrument Technology Division precision-tests them to 1/1,000 of a millimeter and also puts them through a stress test to ensure long-term performance.
And I’d like to know…
How do you view disposable pens versus pens that take refills? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just click on the Comments link below. (If you’re reading this as an email, click here and you’ll connect to Comments).