CEO Jérôme Lambert thanks Marc Newson by saying: “It is rare in life to work with a genius.” As I am incapable of sitting through a meeting without a pen in my hand, I was delighted to be invited to the introduction of the latest offering from Montblanc. World-renowned design centre Milan was a fitting city for the launch of the Montblanc M writing instrument. The new pen, designed by Marc Newson, was revealed at a spectacular cocktail party and dinner held on the 24th floor of the modern Diamond Tower, providing 360° views of the sun setting over Milan, Mont Blanc and the distant Alps.

The faceted glass skyscraper is the jewel in the crown of the new Porta Nuova Varesine urban renewal project in central Milan, and set the tone for the event, held to celebrate contemporary design. Three interactive workshop stations around the space offered guests a chance to interact with Montblanc 
craftsmen to experience the technical aspects of creating a pen: from nib grinding to nib testing and assembly.

I particularly enjoyed testing the variety of nibs, matching the nibs to my particular style of handwriting under the expert guidance of nib specialist Frank Derlin. The charming Nicolas Ouchenir, one of the world’s leading calligraphers, created personalised messages for guests in their choice of Montblanc coloured ink on the chic Montblanc stationery.

Marc Newson
Marc Newson

As the sun set over the Alps and the Mont Blanc summit, guests moved from the Champagne cocktail lounge to the elegant dining area with settings designed by Newson for a dinner themed around the art of contemporary design and created by Milanese superstar chef Andrea Berton. Every detail was considered, and design was the centre of attention for the evening. Newson is the only designer to collaborate with the brand in the 109 years since Montblanc was founded.

Newson has
designed a 
necklace for
Boucheron and 
a shotgun for
Beretta

“For the first ever design partnership in the maison’s long history, Montblanc has chosen to work with Marc Newson, without a doubt the most influential 
designer of his generation,” says Lambert. “Montblanc M bring together Newson’s trademark biomorphic style, defined by its fluid and pure organic forms, and Montblanc’s iconic design cues, resulting in a new and unexpected expression for writing instruments.”

As Lambert explained to me, during his time as CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, he had commissioned Newson to redesign the Atmos clock. The successful result of this collaboration gave Lambert the confidence to task Newson with redefining the Montblanc pen.  Lambert says he finds it enormously exciting working with this iconic, unpredictable designer. He admires his true passion for design, his conceptual approach and his ability to understand the DNA of the maison.

The result is a distinctive, modern, pared-down instrument, simple in silhouette and stripped of all extraneous design elements. Newson has garnered a slew of top design awards, having designed an extraordinary array of products, including a necklace for Boucheron, a car for Ford, clothing for G-Star Raw, a camera for Pentax as well as a shotgun for Beretta and most recently, samurai swords for WOW.

Montblanc pens by Marc Newson
Montblanc pens by Marc Newson

He is the creative director for Qantas airlines and his Lockheed Lounge chair has been sold for $3.7m, the highest price achieved on auction by a living designer. At the dinner, he was flanked by the editor in chief of Italian Vogue, Franca Sozzani, and design concept store owner Rossana Orlandi, who introduced me to Newson. 

When I mentioned that Wanted magazine had featured several of his designs over the years, including the Aquariva speedboat, Zvezdochka shoes for Nike and his Ikepod watch, he proudly showed me his rose gold Apple Watch, which he codesigned with Jonathan Ive. He went on to explain that he designed the Zvezdochka Nikes with astronauts and cosmonauts in mind, saying they were the perfect zero-gravity shoes.

Unfortunately, they were not approved by Nasa for outerspace wear. Newson
said he was particularly proud to have worked on the Montblanc M pen, as it is an item that is not disposable but can be passed down for generations. The Montblanc M is a sleek, clean version of the traditional cigar-shaped pens Montblanc is renowned forbut its simplicity is deceptive. Newson provided several technical challenges to the Montblanc craftsmen; the cap alone has 11 hidden parts.

Montblanc coloured ink and chic stationery
Montblanc coloured ink and chic stationery

The ingenious use of a magnetic closure of the cap and the barrel allows for a perfect alignment of the clip to the bevelled plateau at the opposite end of the pen. This magnetic closure is followed by a soft closure in order to protect the ink. The Montblanc M pen has a polished black resin case shaped using a diamond tool, with the Montblanc star made of white precious resin ultra-sonically welded onto the plateau to form a perfectly flat surface.

The platinum-plated clip is mounted invisibly into the cap so as not to interrupt the fluid lines of the design flow. There are no superfluous design elements, everything has a function, and the result is both timeless and modern. The AU585 gold nib of the fountain pen is plated in two tones for the first time, using both rhodium and ruthenium, and although long-lasting, the gold provides a softer touch to the nib, resulting in an improved user experience.

Montblanc M is available in Fountain Pen, Rollerball, Ballpoint Pen, Screen Writer for use on touch screens and as a thin Montblanc Art fineliner for technical drawing. During the launch year only, the nib is engraved with “MN” as a tribute to the designer who created this contemporary, functional pen.

For the first time, a Montblanc writing instrument takes on an additional function, as a fineliner pen for technical and precision drawing. The .25 Fineliner is recommended for designers and architects; Newson says he is never without his Montblanc M in his hand when working in his studio.  

Available  from Montblanc boutiques worldwide. Call 011 317 2600 for your nearest stockist. montblanc.com

A handwritten note for Jenny Andrew by Nicolas Ouchenir
A handwritten note for Jenny Andrew by Nicolas Ouchenir

September 2015

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