It all began with a pencil - one of the oldest, simplest and some would say best, writing instruments in the world.
At the request of Dr Gerhard Lugert, Faber-Castell's Head of R&D, innovators Roland Boch and Udo Beck fashioned a triangular barrel and put some dots on it, and the Grip 2001 was born. And no, it wasn't an effort to prettify the pencil, or make it stand out from all the other pencils on the market (although it does); it was an exercise in ergonomics.
Fingers slip; it's a fact. They get hot and sweaty, especially when you're going in for a bit of a creative marathon, and anything that prevents that has got to be a good thing. Hence Faber-Castell's barrel redesign and the addition of little raised dots. The dots stop the slip, and the triangular-ness eases the tiredness. That's all it took to get a grippier, comfier pencil. Well, it wasn't quite that straightforward: it actually took months of experimenting 'with every kind of material until our brains started to smoke' until finally arriving at a water-based resin; and then more months of research into suitable machinery and the correct environment in which to house said machinery (a fairly humid one, as it turned out).
The Grip didn't just have ergonomic benefits, though; it became - almost by accident - a bit of a design icon, winning no less than 5 awards. Trade journals labelled it 'the cult object of the new millennium', citing its sleek, silvery appearance, while the media was less reticent and called it 'the sports car of writing implements' in that it left all other pencils for dust.
So, thought Faber-Castell (never a company to rest on its laurels), if we can add dots to a pencil, why not to a pen? There was no reason, and so they did. They then proceeded to triangularise and dottify a whole range of stationery that's not only award-winning, user-friendly and stylish, but easy on the pocket too.
Let's start with the pencils (after all, Faber-Castell did). The graphite pencils are available in a standard diameter in the familiar silver, but also with stealthy black, and glitzy sparkly finishes as well, and one with an eraser on the end. There's a chunky Jumbo version, too. The coloured pencils come in a great range of shades and you can have either the standard slim barrels or the fat Jumbos, and assorted packs make life a little easier. And mechanical pencils have not been forgotten: choose from 0.5mm or 0.7mm.
And what of the pens? Well, the Grip range covers pretty much all you could wish for. There is a choice of two ballpoints: the simple and the slightly classier and both refillable with widely-available 'Parker-style' refills. If you prefer a fibretip, try the Grip Finewriter with its metal-clad tip, or the Finepen that writes a neat and precise 0.4mm line. There are also fountain pens; like the ballpoints, you can choose from simple or slightly classy and they take international standard ink cartridges or a converter if you want to use bottled ink.
Phew! But there's more want to colour something in, or write on a whiteboard, a flipchart or permanently mark something? Well you can, and you can do it comfortably and stylishly, because there's a Grip for all these situations. There are two assorted sets of colouring pens, and the markers come in good, basic colours of black, red, blue and green.
But that's not all. You can highlight things: brightly, with a pen or more subtly, with a pencil. You can correct mistakes with a choice of three Grip erasers, and sharpen pencils with a Grip Trio canister sharpener.