Last week, our Pen Specialist, Dion, was lucky enough to visit Kaweco in Nuremberg, Germany. Dion took us behind the scenes and let us know a little bit more about his day with this iconic brand, where he met with Kaweco’s CEO Michael Gutberlet and his son, Sebastian, their Sales & Marketing Manager.
But first thing’s first – we’ve all learnt something quite vital from this trip at Milligram HQ and that is that our pronunciation of Kaweco, may have been slightly off! Correct pronunciation: KAH-whe-CO, a truncation of Kosh.Weber & Company, who were the original founders of Kaweco in 1883. Read more about the company’s history here.
Did you know?
Did you know that Kaweco has a history spanning 133 years? They produce excellent writing instruments that today are based on vintage designs using modern materials. The result is a historical-feeling collection that is durable and reliable.
Dion walked into Kaweco’s HQ and felt right at home. Lining the walls were large canvas prints featuring the Kaweco emblem and up-close details of stunning Kaweco products.
The impressive pen collection
Michael then led him into a room that houses his astonishing pen collection of over 2000 vintage Kaweco instruments!
They pens are displayed in special cabinets organised by era – starting from 1883..! Dion describes the feeling of what could only be a similar to ‘a child on Christmas morning’. His eyes and hands darting everywhere, and found his personal affections leaned toward the pens produced in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
One particular story that resonated with Dion was that of the sterling silver pencils and their history.
A gentleman would carry one of these pencils into a dance and would fill in a lady’s dance card, requesting his permission for the next dance. What a chivalrous gesture!
Behind the Kaweco DNA
Michael explained that when he designs a new pen, he finds inspiration from the old collection, which in-turn provides inspiration for the new. They call this the ‘Kaweco DNA’, where a new writing instrument needs to be relatable to the older members of the brand. Whether this be in character to something offered in the past, such as keeping the 1930’s shape of the Sport series; or an instrument that is apparent it descends from the vintage models, such as the elongated pencil in the Special series.
Michael has many ideas for new pens, and turns most of what he imagines into prototypes. But, perhaps surprisingly, only 5% of prototypes make it to production!
Michael tests heavily on his ideas. He balances the creativity of different ideas with the necessity of placing functional products into the marketplace. If these requisites do not balance, they go back to the drawing board.
In an age where the digital sphere seems to rule and the written word may seem a dying art, Kaweco are not feeling the effects. In an age where people write less, they want their writing to have more meaning, and Kaweco are having an immense resurgence of fountain pens and quality paper.
The love of German made quality and European character of stationery is continuing to grow worldwide with Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Korea being their largest growing markets.
At Milligram, Kaweco’s brass pens were so popular, they continue to leave our virtual shelves as soon as they arrive!
The appeal of brass is its distinctive finish. Brass has to be lead-free and now in Europe they must be nickel-free, which changes the character of the pens. Lead stabilises brass so without it the colour will oxidise and change its look over time – it becomes a distinguishing piece that will change in the hands of the owner.
What’s coming for 2017 at Kaweco?
Sebastian took Dion through to the current collection and new releases for 2017. Although we can’t give away too much, we can say there will be a new family release and new colours in existing favourites. As always, there is a historical link to the history of Kaweco, the strength of the brand. We’re excited to make these available in Australia!
Dion felt honoured and inspired to meet two people who are so passionate about what they do. Their respect for the Kaweco brand is paramount, and while they look to the future they’ll always ensure to never lose their past.
Side note: Michael and Sebastian took Dion out for Dion to Bratwursthausle, translating to: the little sausage house. This restaurant has been sitting on the same site since 1313! Now that’s longevity!