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ACME Studio

"Beep, beep." For those of you old enough to remember, ACME featured heavily in Wile E Coyote's arsenal in his ongoing battle against the Road Runner, usually featuring some device that didn't work, or did work, but not in the way he wanted. Ironically, 'acme' comes from the Greek for zenith, or prime. Completely inapplicable to poor old Wile E's acquisitions, but entirely appropriate to the newest addition to the Cult Pens family - Acme Studio.

It's not the pen itself so much as the design that counts where Acme is concerned, so we thought that the best person to tell us about them would be Robin Silver. One of the founders of The Home store in Bradford, he has known Acme's owners for many years and is ideally placed to give us the low-down…

Adrian OlabuenagaSays Robin: "The Acme Collection is made by an American company - Acme Inc. - and is owned by Lesley and Adrian, the former from New Zealand, the latter from Argentina and today they live and work in Maui, Hawaii. I have known them for close to 25 years and they originally started out making Memphis design jewellery and about 20+ years ago began to make pens, amongst the very first being designs by Michael Graves. Adrian once told me that an American journalist had written a piece about Acme comparing the concept behind their pens as being like Swatch watches. He apparently thought that this was rather derogatory but Adrian very much liked it and was rather flattered and completely agreed. The similarity is that the two pen shapes are constants and the surface patterning the prerogative of the designer.

"Some years ago, we were asked by Acme to suggest names of British designers as Acme realised that the majority of their design stable was from America, Italy and Germany. An early choice was Lucienne Day but when we contacted her, she said that she was not really interested but would think about it and would speak to us the following week at precisely 10.00 am. She did so and advised that she was not going to make a design but that her husband, Robin Day, had always wanted to design a pen and had actually conceived the idea over fifty years before. The pen, entitled 'Scribe, went into production but has now been retired from the collection.

"Ben Hall was another introduction. He was originally from Leicester but living at the time in the Pennines and had designed a wonderful crazy golf course and found in Adrian at Acme similar comic book and super hero interests. He even went to visit them in Maui, flying from Manchester to Chicago to Honolulu and eventually to Maui.

"One of the earliest designers was George Sowden who originally comes from Yorkshire but has lived and worked in Milan, Italy, for many, many years. He once told me that designers were not philosophers but that they had to know how to think!

"In the collection at the moment is a pen and card case designed by John McLaughlin. He told me that he was a musician and never aspired to being a designer (or for that matter a plumber) but that he was happy to participate in the Jazz Musician project so that any royalties could be channelled into his charity work.

Charles and Ray Eames"Part of the central core of Acme’s collection are the designs of Charles & Ray Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. These iconic architects have buildings all over the world but the designs of their pens are even more widespread. This was aptly demonstrated when a dissident in court in Turkey was seen to be writing with an Acme pen designed by Laurinda Spear quoting Shakespeare on this his 400th anniversary year: 'The pen is mightier than the sword.' In these days of social media and instantaneous around-the-world messaging, nothing could be more true and more apposite. Of course she may be SPEAR by name but the saying has the cutting edge of the SWORD!"

So no bombs or dynamite, then, just pens. But what pens..!

3 August 2016


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