Every so often I stumble...
October 11, 2015
Every so often I stumble onto a piece of industrial design which combines
practicality and aesthetics in a way which is just plain admirable. The Ohto
Rook is an example of that. Just a few simple pieces, it demonstrates how slick
a simple design can be when the designers are creative with the details.
Practical: This pen is tiny when not in use, full length when posted, although
slim. It is meant to be used in the real world. Made mostly of aluminum and
plastic, it is not going to survive heavy abuse, but it will usually be hidden
in a pocket where it doesn't get much of that. It's far from the cheapest pen in
the world, but the price is not so high that it would break my heart to replace
it; that is part of its practicality too. It uses International cartridges, so
the range of inks available for it is the greatest of any cartridge pen.
Pretty: It is surprising how attractive this pen is when you have it posted. It
looks sleek and elegant. Those slight swoopy curves make the cap post properly
and shape the pen to improve the grip. Sometimes designers sacrifice function to
make the product pretty; here, by making it pretty, they made it WORK. Art
Some reviews say the point is scratchy; mine is not, very nice, very smooth. It
writes a very fine line, though. Personally, I don't love ultra fine lines, but
they use less ink. For a travel pen, using the limited ink capacity of an
International cartridge, that is a plus.
The Kaweco Lilliput is another classic pocket pen. I have one in copper. To
compare the two, the Kaweco is clearly better made. It is heavy and solid. It is
clipless, a true trouser pocket pen, especially in the small leather pouch they
also sell for it. It is a bit longer, closed, than the Ohto Rook is. In the
Rook's favor, it looks more elegant in use, it costs a lot less, it has a clip
(which keeps the thing from rolling off a table, even if you never choose to
actually clip it to anything) and it is more convenient to use. This convenience
arises because the Rook cap closes with a snap and posts with a simple push and
friction fit, while the Lilliput screws together in both positions. The heavier,
all metal, threaded Lilliput cap and body are the sturdier solution, but slower
This is one little pen I am going to use a LOT.