Showing posts with label estética. Show all posts
Showing posts with label estética. Show all posts

30 May 2012


Blogs and fora and other Internet media are now re-broadcasting the news originally released by the BBC on the increasing popularity of fountain pens. Sure enough, we stylophiles should be happy about it: more sales would certainly turn into more attention on the side of the companies and more models in the market. All in all, more excitement for us.

Another of Yamada's creations.

However, what is the business model for most of those companies? BBC quoted the views of Gordon Scott, vice-president for office products at Parker pens in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He claims that buyers of new fountain pens, for whom they are more an accessory than a tool, look for a traditional element on them: "People want the memory of a fountain pen in a contemporary pen." This might explain, incidentally, why Parker launched the moral fraud of a felt-tip pen by the name of Ingenuity with all the fanfare.

But in this context of the pen as a retro-looking accessory –I spoke in terms of status symbol for the paradigmatic case of Montblanc— the nib is an even more secondary accessory. And few demands would be placed on them other than being made of gold, I am afraid.

Yamada and Nagahara, face to face.

So, innovations like those by the Nagahara family or nibmeister Yamada, give us some more solid hopes for an interesting future in the world of fountain pens. Otherwise, most of the well-established companies would engage in an endless and empty exercise of style, in a mannerist activity, in an inane recreation of archaic tools.

Charles R. Mackintosh said it with elegant words: “There is hope in honest error. None in the icy perfections of the mere stylist”.

Sailor black pocket pen with inlaid nib – Wagner red-black

Bruno Taut
May 29th, 2012
etiquetas: estética, mercado, soluciones técnicas, Yamada, Sailor

14 June 2010


Para Kendo-san, ignoto japanófilo.

Japan, as many a country, has a profusion of faces despite its often monolithic façade. Some of them are two aesthetic traditions that deserve the attention of any visitor—and of any pen enthusiast.

On one hand, we encounter the beauty of simple things and empty spaces. And concepts as shibui, or wabi-sabi can be found to describe and explain this tradition. Wabi-sabi 侘寂— refers to two different ideas: the beauty of imperfection (wabi), and the beauty that comes with age (sabi). This term is also related to the Buddhist principles of the three marks of existence: imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness; and for some authors, wabi-sabi is the material representation of Zen Buddhism.

The word shibui (渋い), literally astringent, is the everyday word to reflect the wabi-sabi beauty of simple and elegant attitudes. “Severely simple, tastefully bare”, the dictionary says of shibui. Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows (陰翳礼讃, Inei Raisan, 1933) is a passionate, even if reactionary and nostalgic, chant to shibui life and aesthetics.

There are many cultural traditions in Japan that embraced this aesthetic way of thinking, many of them with a direct influence of Zen Buddhism: tea ceremony (chadô or sadô
; 茶道), theater (能楽), ikebana (生け花), Japanese pottery… And, of course, gardens and palaces: Ryôan-ji stone garden, Katsura Rikyu in Kyoto…

Shokintei tea house at Katsura Villa (Katsura Rikyu) in Kyoto (mid 17th century).

On the other end of the spectrum we find the idea of hade, 派手. Where shibui is subtle and subdued, restrained, hade is flashy and ostentatious. Hade asks for attention. If theater is shibui, kabuki is kabuku and hade—loud, flashy. But hade is not without rules and patterns. Kabuki theater, for instance, or the all-female Takarazuka Company, have very defined codes and symbolisms.

Yômei-mon, Sunlight Gate, in Nikko (early 17th century).

Needless to say, flashiness can be easily pushed beyond the limits of good taste. Then we reach the realm of yabo (野暮) or, in slang,
kebai (ケバイ). These words refer to tacky things, corny at times, loud and unrefined.

So, what about pens? What about Japanese pens?

Simplifying things, I thought that urushi –lacquer--, truly falls in the simple shibui sophistication. At least, when using the traditional colors—subdued, dark, tone down.
Then, maki-e would mostly fall in the area of hade. Certainly a lot flashier than urushi; colorful more often than not, albeit not without exceptions such as some examples of chinkin technique, and some simple patterns on pens.

The problem –you all could see this coming— arises when the hade maki-e becomes yabo and we have to endure polar bears on pen barrels. Of course, it is up to each of us to decide where the threshold between hade, and kebai lies. Personally, I rather to kabuki.

(Platinum Silver Cap Pocket Pen – Platinum Brown)

Bruno Taut
(Shinjuku, June 11, 2010)
[labels: Japón, estética]