by Jerry ElengicalJun 11, 2021
A pen has been an object of endless fascination for me. Barely the size between a thumb and an index finger, this rather intelligent 'device' encompasses the disciplines of design, art, and engineering, while birthing a few of its own by enabling what it does. From the days of the discovery of a pigment that could stay on any abberrated surface, something that could be used to communicate, the pen has been a rather necessary call to action, an essential lithographic tool, if you may. Increased sophistication in design and production processes has led to this commonplace design entity being placed on both ends of the product spectrum simultaneously. While being an item of extreme utility, it is also a statement, stretching to an item of luxury too. What this spectral arrangement then necessitates, for any innovation in the 'pen' to follow suit, is an innovation along both ends of this spectrum: utility as well as, primevally, an aesthetic, a craftsmanship that endows it with value that is beyond your stock-shop product. The Drillog dip pen, a testament to Japanese design and a strong hint of minimalism with it, innovates in aces to develop a product that lies somewhere between the fountain and the regular-nibbed pen, but tends to subvert both their narratives and usages.
At first sight, Drillog reveals its chief area of innovation: its nib and a shaft-like structure that accompanies it, constituting roughly a quarter of the Japanese pen's body, measured along its length. There are many referential images that come to mind: the Underminer’s vessel of choice from The Incredibles, or even a rocket placed somewhere in the near future. However, the drill is aptly and eponymously pinned as the primary source of inspiration in the decidedly unique product design. The grooves in the metal dip pen are essentially designed to “hold” the ink until it’s discharged on the paper, gradually, spirally letting it flow through its precisely engineered nibs. The nib is in turn made by numerically controlling the metal cutting process to achieve a precise writing line width, boasting of a technology that imparts aircraft-grade precision to the cutting and moulding process.
Drillog comes available in two distinct and widely accepted widths for a range of applications: the 0.5 mm width that is recommended for lettering and sketching, while the 0.8 mm width that works better with glitter inks and filling between lines. The makers claim that the spiral grooves on the side of the body can hold enough ink in a single dip to enable one to write or draw long strokes that can fill a whole sheet of A4 paper. Furthermore, extra care has been invested in ensuring the nib’s longevity. While the nibs may not be damaged by the motion of repeatedly dipping or touching the ink bottle, the metal on the tip is acid resistant stainless steel that can allow for the usage of slightly acidic or alkaline inks, eliminating the worry of corrosion. Owing to its design enabling the tip to hold the ink essentially on the outside, the pen is also completely washable and can be used with multiple inks in a short duration of time. Think of a paintbrush, but with the drawing precision of a pen.
The secondary aspect of its design, adding another layer of distinction to the perceived minimal outlook of the pen’s design, is the barrel. Each distinctly and succinctly designed to have their own design identity that still complements, the barrel and nib are sold separately to provide buyers with a choice of customisation for the type of nib along with a different barrel colour, shape, and size to be paired with it, forming an extensive product lineup for what is essentially a single product and purpose. The company behind the design and production of Drillog further plans to keep on releasing custom updates to the design, including barrels with different concepts, pushing the styling possibilities of writing instruments. A few of them currently available to order with the Kickstarter campaign for Drillog include the ‘Classical Material AL’ and ‘SUS’ variants, defining a “classical” cylindrical barrel in either aluminium of steel, ‘Spiral’, bearing a twisting barrel, and ‘Mirage’ with a stylish, ribbed barrel. Drillog is also available in the above customisations in a ‘Twin’ variant, wherein the barrel is placed in the middle, with detachable nibs on either end of the pen, and in a total of eight vibrant colours. Upon additional payment, the kit can also come equipped with accessories including a pen rest, and a 'colour puddle' for dipping in ink, all accessible through Drillog's Kickstarter page.
Drillog develops as an autonomous brand with its signature product, the Drillog dip pen based on the themes of exploration and dialogue. The name itself, Drillog, is etymologically the combination of “drill” and “dialogue”, two aspects that define the structure and design principles of the pen. Operated by Shion Co. Ltd., a town factory in Japan that performs metal processing of aircraft parts, the pen is backed by more than four decades of experience that Shion brings to the fore, headed by Takeshi Yamada, CEO, and Hiroshi Sugiyama, Chief Craftsman at Shion. Daisuke Akiyakma, Creative director, HAFT design; Keisuke Furuta, Video Director; and Aya Unoki, PR head round up the multidisciplinary team behind the revolutionary design. “Like a drill drilling into the ground, we aim to explore the universal appeal and potential of writing instruments and create products that generate rich dialogue. If we only make things according to the drawings, we will forget the original purpose of manufacturing. Don't forget to make things for people,” states the design team in an official release on the design physicality and philosophy of Drillog.