The style list: Montblanc
The pen may well be mightier than the sword, but is it any match for the digital age? In a world where cheques have been replaced with bank transfers, emails are the new letters and many of us can barely remember what our own handwriting looks like, could the humble pen soon become a relic of the past? Absolutely not, according to Eric Vergnes, president of Montblanc Middle East, Africa and India.
“Perhaps surprisingly, our writing-instruments segment is still growing, year after year, both in volume and in value. And I think we are growing for several reasons,” he says. “Some of it comes down to meaning. When you handwrite something today, it is far more meaningful than it was a few decades ago. When you receive a handwritten letter today, it has a very special impact; far more than an email or a text message. Also, when it comes to the actual instrument, we are not only selling a pen. What we are selling is a piece of art.”
Montblanc’s most recent art piece is the Montblanc M. It’s a decidedly modern-looking pen that was crafted in collaboration with Australian designer Marc Newson, whose portfolio already includes everything from furniture and bicycles to cars, yachts and airplanes. The end result is made from black resin in Newson’s trademark biomorphic style. “Marc came to us with this very interesting writing instrument, which is different in terms of shape. We have the logo for the first time on the side of the pen and on the top of the cap. And there is an interesting device that closes the cap magnetically and realigns it at the same time,” Vergnes explains.
Given the collection’s younger, sleeker, more design-forward look, was it specifically envisaged to attract a younger generation of users? Not necessarily, says Vergnes. “When we create a pen, the first thing that we want to do is bring innovation. To just bring a change of colour or a different engraving on the nib would not be sufficient.”
Despite its modern feel, the Montblanc M is reminiscent of the traditional pens used for calligraphy. So to celebrate the launch of the Montblanc M in the Middle East, as well as the opening of a new flagship store at Yas Mall, the brand teamed up with eight calligraphists from the region, inviting them to create one-off pieces of art using the Montblanc M. They were tasked with crafting something that paid tribute not only to the ancient art of calligraphy, but also to the city they come from. Depicting some of the region’s most recognisable landmarks, from the Burj Khalifa and Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque to the Kingdom Tower in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait’s Al Hamra Tower and the distinguished Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the pieces highlight how you can give creative minds the same brief and the same instrument, but get very different results.
The artists were chosen purely on the basis of “their passion”, says Vergnes. “We wanted to have representatives of the major cities of the Gulf and we have an interesting gathering of artists; some are established and quite well known, others are much younger, but what they all have in common is that they were all passionate about the project, and they are passionate about their city.”