A little bit of history You’ve probably heard of the ‘architect nib’, as favoured by Frank Lloyd Wright, but have you ever wondered what would happen if an architect started making actual pens? Well, here’s the answer. The same designer responsible for the remarkable parabola chair has been making pens for a couple of years now – and it was high time that we took a look.
How it looks The first pen that Ensso have sent us is the brass version of the Piuma, named after the Italian for feather – the earliest sort of nib, of course. It looks like a classic cigar-shaped pen, albeit without summoning-up the toxicity that a cigar might suggest. It’s not a complex or even surprising shape, by any means, but it’s easy on the eye. The branding is subtle, and the whole thing looks classy and understated.
How it feels Now here it’s a matter of personal taste and preference. A brass pen is always going to be heavier than its aluminium equivalent, and this is no exception to that iron (woops, wrong metal) rule. Whether that’s a good thing depends upon what you like. Scribble has a lot of big heavy brass pens and finds this one of the lighter ones, while Rob likes the look of brass but found the Piuma a bit too heavy. As Ian points out, naming it after a feather was perhaps a bit ironic given the heft. But if you can handle the weight, the grip is comfortable and the size just right for large-ish hands.
How it fills It’s a straightforward cartridge/converter job, but that’s no problem.
Crucially, how it writes… The Piuma takes a #6 nib in the screw-in Bock housing, as is often the case with relatively small-batch production runs. The steel nib we tried was competent rather than special, but that’s not so bad a place to start – and upgrading to something a bit more interesting should be quite straightforward.
Pen! What is it good for? If you can take the weight, this is probably a good pen to travel with. You can enjoy watching it take on a handsome brass patina, or polishing it in between expeditions, as your prefer.
VFM $99, (about £75/€85) looks like pretty good value for an unusual, classy and well-made pen like this.
If this isn’t quite your cup of tea, but almost… This is the only brass pen we know of with a shape quite like this, but if you want something hefty with a #6 Bock nib then brass versions of the Karas Kustoms Ink, the Tactile Turn Gist, the Namisu Nova and the Kaweco Supra are all worth a look. Ensso is also working on a much smaller pen which will also be available in brass, and can currently be located on Kickstarter.
Our overall recommendation Check whether the weight is really for you first – but if you like the design and can manage the mass, get one while stocks last.
Where to get hold of one Straight from the maker.
This meta-review references:
Thanks to Ensso for kindly sending a sample our way.