Gift Wrap Improvisation

I usually enjoy wrapping gifts with one of the sheets of the Pepin Press gift and creative paper books but had to improvise for my good friend’s 29th birthday when the closest thing available to gift wrap was a sheet of lined paper I tore out of my Muji notebook (I love them). After some treatment with my new Leonardo da Vinci ink in red chalk from Mont Blanc and a bit of German literature (my friend’s French!), “The Sorrows of Young Werther” were over and I ready to go.

Featuring Leonardo da Vinci Ink from Mont Blanc.

Featuring Leonardo da Vinci Ink from Mont Blanc.

grey=mc² – Albert Einstein’s inkblot test

Yesterday night I had to proof read around forty pages of a translation of a difficult text. Translations help to understand a text in-depth. Deadlines help to work all night long.

Einstein Inkblot Test

Einstein Inkblot Test

I’m afraid that my comments were rather extensive. I did them by hand, using the Duden correction signs (DIN 16511). Consequently, my fountain pen ran out of ink around 3:50 in the morning. Until then I was using royal blue ink by Graf von Faber Castell, which I keep at the office. I seized the opportunity for a short break and decided to change colours.

I recently acquired this beautiful bottle filled with Albert Einstein ink by Montblanc at their store in Zürich. There are other places where you get this ink only if you buy the fountain pen with it (have a look at the 2013 Great Characters Edition, it’s every nerd’s dream!). I had not used the ink so far, so for me, it was the perfect motivation to keep correcting a little longer. The colour is beautiful. In part it looks like a soft pencil but then at the end of the letters where the pen rests for a second, it’s always two tones darker. It makes the writing look much more alive. The grey is very elegant. Indeed it reminds me of a grey cat strolling silently around corners while the moonlight is reflecting on the silky fur.

Einstein Grey Writing Sample

Einstein Grey Writing Sample

Albert Einstein Ink Montblanc

Albert Einstein Ink Montblanc

Montblanc  inkwell

Montblanc inkwell

Since Montblanc combined ink with Einstein for who imagination was a central topic, nothing seemed more obvious to me that to make the link to the Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach and his inkblot tests. My very own Einstein inkblot shows the qualities of the colour quite well and at the same time allows your imagination to find some figures in it. What do you recognize?

Encre Noire, by Lalique

An intriguing man travelling westwards in the Orient Express writes in black ink about his discoveries. In his cabin, an air of adventure surrounds him and each time he turns one of the pages of his notebook the memories of his journeys transcend to me: markets filled with spices, woody amber and a basket of fresh vetiver.

Encre Noire, Lalique

Encre Noire, Lalique

This crisp scent is captured in an elegant black glass bottle with a wooden lid. Lalique demonstrates the exceptional craftsmanship that they have acquired while creating jewellery and interior design for more that a century now.

What’s your type?

In 1808 when the typewriter was invented by Pellegrino Turri, a typed letter had the notion of a machine made product. At the time it was the exact opposite of a handwritten letter. With the establishment of electronic typewriters in the 1970s, the spectrum between handwritten and mechanically typed was extended. The mechanical link between the finger pressing a button and the letter imprinting the paper was separated and replaced by an electronic command.


On computers, typing and printing grew further apart. The text will only be printed after the document has been finished. The writer can review and change the document before printing and since the Internet and electronic communication have become a part of our everyday life, printing has become obsolete for sending a letter to its recipient.

In effect the opposite of a handwritten letter is nowadays an electronically delivered message, often informally written, short and transmit in the blink of an eye. This allows the writer to write several messages in short sequences while not loosing too much time and thought to the single message.

In this new setup, the (mechanical) typewriter refers back to a time where there was no correction tape and the writer had to think before typing. A typewriter requires concentration and does not allow for distraction. Today, a typed letter is a sign of dedication of time and thought to the recipient. In a sense, it is hand-made again.

The perfect example for this is the Christmas card pictured below that a good friend of mine sent me in 2011 (I still remember!). With a few asterisks, circumflex accents and two brackets typed on a Hermes N°5 (1942) he created some stars arching over a Christmas tree. Brilliant!



Since my very recent birthday, I own a mechanical typewriter myself. A dear friend that knows about my passion for beautiful writing instruments gave me a Triumph Gabriele 30 (A thank you note is should be in your mailbox today!). Gabriele is wonderful: You can choose between red and black tape, to type the number 1, you use the minuscule letter L, the exclamation mark is a combination of a dot and an apostrophe and when I arrive at the end of the line and hear the bell, I’m instantly reminded of the theme song of “Murder, She wrote” and Jessica Fletcher typing her detective stories (for actual typewriter music, listen to The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson or the soundtrack of Atonement by Dario Marianelli). I’m looking forward to hitting the letters.



I read an uncounted number of pages everyday. In the stack of books and print-outs I try to digest, I usually leave some traces in form of sticky notes. Sometimes I leave so many that when I open such a book again, I can hear the wind go through the attached notes like through the branches of an autumn tree (I an aware that I do have a very vivid imagination).

On a recent journey to Stockholm, I found a set of sticky notes from 601street, a Korean company, that enhances the forest impression visually: The set offers three different sizes of notes featuring in total 20 types of leafs printed in either brown, yellow or green. Check out their cheerful designs on their website.


Leaf-it sticky notes from 601street in Markus Marti’s translation of Shakespeare’s sonnets into the Swiss German dialekt of the Valais region.

Leaf-it 2

20cm: The measure of good design

Korimoku is a traditional high quality furniture manufacturer from Japan. In 2009 they launched Korimoku New Standard, a new and modern line of furniture and household items created by creative minds such as Teruhiro Yanagihara, Scholten & Baijings, BIG-GAME, Sylvain Willenz and their own in-house team. For their furniture they use sustainable materials and pair the use of them with modern techniques. One can see and feel the know-how and craftsmanship when confronted with pieces from them.

BIG-GAME, a Swiss design studio based in Lausanne has created, amongst others, a 20 cm ruler for Korimoku New Standard. It is made out of perfectly finished itaya maple. It is covered with a gray-blue print referencing the annual rings of a tree, although it rather reminds me of the contour lines of a map. Each of the twenty lines indicates a centimeter at the upper side of the ruler. This size is actually much handier than standard 15 or 30 cm rulers as they just cover a bit more than the narrow side of an A4 sheet. And with its surprisingly low weight its even more fun to move it over the pages while drawing lines.


BIG-GAME Ruler by Karimoku New Standard


Vitra Toolbox

When I first started my job, I was assigned a nice office. Obviously, someone took the time to prepare everything for me. There were flowers and everything was at its place. Moreover, I was supplied with new pens and pencils, note pads, sticky notes, highlighters, you name it. My office even has a mountain view for which I am most grateful. But there was one thing I knew right ahead I would have to replace: A pencil holder made out of several plastic cylinders of different diameters and heights. It reminded me very much of the one I crafted in primary school out of cardboard rolls that we decorated with papier mâché. It had to go and a replacement had to be found.

I chose the Vitra Toolkit from Designer Arik Levi in brick color. It has a decent size that allows me to also store my calculator, cell phone and some notebooks in its different compartments. In this way, I think it is very functional which I appreciate. But the actual reason I chose it to be my daily companion at the office is that it doesn’t take itself too serious. It comes with a wink. What better reason would there be?


Vitra Toolbox by Arik Levi