US-based pen maker David Oscarson has tackled an impressively broad range of themes through his design work. His writing instruments have paid tribute to everything from the changing seasons and the sea to scientists and explorers. His 27th and latest pen collection, simply dubbed Koi, is ostensibly about the Japanese fish, but Oscarson imbues the pieces with deeper meaning.
Koi was created to commemorate a trip that Oscarson took to Japan last year with his eldest son, Grant. There he learned that although “koi" is a Japanese loan word, it actually refers to all kinds of carp. The colourful fish that koi is associated with in English is specifically called niskikigoi, which also means affection and love. For the locals, koi have become symbols of love and friendship.
Playing off of this dual meaning, the Kanji character for niskikgoi appears on the top of the pen’s cap. An engraving of Oscarson’s name in Japanese also adorns the cap. The pen’s clip is stylised as a stalk of bamboo.
The barrel and side of the cap depict three swimming koi fish along with bubbles, a waterlily and bamboo leaves. These images are rendered in what Oscarson calls “mock" maki-e, a play on the traditional Japanese decorative technique in which designs are created by sprinkling metallic powder onto wet lacquer. The pen maker has adapted the style of these designs to his own favoured decorative method, guilloche enamelling — using both high and low relief to create the depictions.
The Koi collection will be primarily produced in three colours — teal, red, and blue — but Oscarson will also make variations in other shades in very limited batches. Rollerball versions are priced at US$5,600 (S$7,620), while fountain pens are US$5,800 (S$7,890).
We’ve also written about fountain pens by Montegrappa and Montblanc, which you may read about here.