Beautiful Tools

Legendary Kevin Kelly) (founder of Wired and perhaps most interesting man in the world) has been compiling for years his famous Cool Tools. A cool tool is said to be something that expands your capabilities and opens a world of new possibilities. Check the site but beware, it is highly addictive.

While cool tools focus on functionality, I would love to see a compilation that is focused on design. Over time I've become more biased towards a well designed object than a simply functional one. I've learned that good design sticks and creates a bond with the owner. Beautiful tools fill your mundane tasks with awe and joy. You can feel it when you hold that thing and there's that sense of proud. We've all been there. For many, a car is that beautiful tool. For others, our shiny new phones spark that euphoria.

Beautiful may probably be a very bad adjective when referred to a tool, but I could not come up with something better. Aesthetics are not what we are discussing here, but good design is. Superfluous ornamentation will not make a tool beautiful. What truly shines in a tool is that perfect balance between form and function. The careful selection of materials. The attention to detail in the molding. The rigorous production process that gives no room to imperfections. It is that deceiving simplicity that turns into awe when you start using it. It is that moment of "man, this is so well thought!"

I'm going to share here things that I own and love on a daily basis, starting with the one I'm more fond of since I got it, last Christmas, as a present.

The Lamy 2000 pen is an outstanding piece of art. It has a permanent place in MoMA for credentials. It is a modern classic since its inception in 1966. Its understated design hides its genius.

The form of the body allows for anyone to hold it comfortably (higher will have a wider grip and lower a tighter one). Something the omnipresent Mont Blanc Meisterstuck cannot claim, for instance.

The materials are really differential. The Macrolon resin of the body is warm and holds tight. The aluminum of the grip makes inking the pen a clean and quick process. You dip the pen in the bottle and when you take it out, not a single drop of ink stays in it. I cannot tell how often I've stained my fingers with my poshy Mont Blanc in the past. Finally, the golden nib makes writing soft as silk. Interestingly, the most noble of materials has been hooded in the body as if showing it off is a sin. Gold has been chosen for function (making writing a pleasant experience) not ornamentation.

Tolerances are mind blowing in this pen. There is absolutely no noticeable step in the junction between the Macrolon and the aluminum. The Lamy 2000 fills with a piston, which is there, hidden at plain sight in the top of the body. Production is so accurate that, when screwed in, it is barely impossible to notice the junction between the two pieces. Amazing.

Can you see the piston knob there?

Can you see the piston knob there?

Using this thing is a total delight, writing, inking or simply holding it. It transforms the hateful process of taking notes during meetings into something else. It is probably the single thing I own that I love the most. It's 150-200€. For something you use everyday, will last forever and carries so much with it, it's a steal. I think they got the price wrong, but hey, I won't complain. Anyway at that price point it's no impulse buy, I get it, but it makes for a perfect special occasion gift.

If you have any suggestion on tools that you love, just let me know (I won't bother asking for comments, you won't, but send me an email) and I may feature them here in future posts. Meanwhile, enjoy the weekend. Cheers!