Thursday, April 4, 2013


In this world of fast-evolving technology and mass-produced goods there seems to be room for nostalgia and romanticism… But are those for real or mere illusions?

There are a number of pen companies claiming to have their products handmade or crafted by traditional artisans following ancient recipes. But what do all those words really mean? What is really handmade and what is machine-made?

What tools can an artisan –whatever this might mean— use while preserving the label and aura of “handmade”? Is the lathe an acceptable tool? And if that lathe was numerically-controlled? Should the lathe be made by the artisan himself to keep the purity of the handmade process? Or, is electricity an acceptable source of energy?

Nakaya. Japanese handmade fountain pens, we read on its website. But what does that really mean?

It is very difficult –if at all possible— to draw that red line delimiting the realm of the craftsmanship and the realm of the mass-production. Craftsmanship is, after all, only an older technology, but a technology that still uses tools made by others.

Two are the reasons for a new technology to gain favor. First is the economic argument—does this new machine makes the final product for less? Second is the quality—is the product newly made better than the one produced with the previous technologies? The final adoption of the new procedures depends on a delicate balance between those two arguments. Cheaper but lower quality is not a good strategy to keep business going, but it is certainly tempting.

At the end, the consumer decides, and it is my contention that the final decision should only be taken based on the quality of the good and not on the marketing labels attached to it to increase the price. After all, we do not judge a novel based on which instrument was used to write it.

Handmade, artisanal, hand-crafted,… Mumbo-jumbo, I am afraid.

Pilot Super (cartridge-converter), soft nib – Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Brown

Bruno Taut
April 3rd, 2013
etiquetas: mercado, estilofilia

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