Caran d’Ache is no stranger to interdisciplinary collaborations – previous design partners include watchmaker MB&F, architect Mario Botta and designer Paul Smith. It makes sense, then, that the Swiss writing instrument maker would partner up with a man of many (leather) hats, Peter Marino.
The architect, artist, and prolific fashion boutique designer has contributed a limited-edition pen to the ‘Varius’ collection, which has seen 50 iterations over the brand’s 100 year history, and is one of the its most iconic designs. Marino, who has been sketching with ‘Varius’ pens for years, was keen to maintain its emblematic, hexagonal shape.
But in all other respects, the new ‘Varius’ is unrecognisable – and unmistakably Marino. A ‘high performance instrument dressed in leather couture’, Marino’s first foray into haute écriture is inspired by ‘motorcycle aesthetic’ and his distinctive ‘personal style’ (think rugged leather daddy in aviators).
The pen is encased in Harrison calf leather from France, and topped with a silver and rhodium-plated skull with black onyx eyes, reminiscent of the architect’s numerous rings. Marino aficionados might recognise the ‘1/150’ numbering imprinted onto the side, as a reference to the architect’s studio in Manhattan – 150 East 58 Street. Hand-laced details echo one of Marino’s many outré leather garments.
No small thanks to Caran d’Ache’s master craftsmen, Marino manages to reference architecture, fashion and even personal history – all in a little instrument you hold in one hand. This is interdisciplinary design at its most organic. Write on.
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Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees Wallpaper.com and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.
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