What makes a design classic? Timelessness? Universal appeal? Reliable practicality? Who knows? And does it really matter anyway? But whatever your thoughts on whether something qualifies as a design classic, the 849 ballpoint pen from Caran d'Ache is certainly a worthy candidate. Because it is timeless - retractable ballpoints sort of are - it does have universal appeal - there's nothing about it that could offend! - and it's both reliable and practical - it's made of aluminium, so it's lightweight as well as sturdy, and its Goliath ink refill is aptly-named: you can write 600 pages of A4 before it grinds to a well-deserved halt.
The 849 emerged onto the stationery scene in 1969. Its slim, hexagonal barrel and unusual - soon to be iconic - pocket clip attracted instant interest. Sure, it was a ballpoint pen - nothing different there - BUT it had style! It was the sort of pen that would last, possibly even 'see you out' as our grandmothers used to say, because it's robust, it's resilient - and it's refillable. It was the sort of pen that would upset you if you lost it. It had good looks - it wouldn't embarrass you in a board meeting, or set you apart from your fellow students. It didn't involve parting with a worrying amount of money. And, over 50 years later, it is STILL all of those things.
Design classics often appear in a different guise, to celebrate or collaborate, and the 849 is no exception. Caran d'Ache regularly bring out special limited editions, as it's the perfect foil for tweaking.
Sir Paul Smith is a classic designer rather than a design classic, but as the 849 is his favourite pen, Caran d'Ache collaborated with him to create a series of Paul Smith Editions. These are 849s that sport the colours of the designer's signature stripes, and make for very classy pens indeed. The current incarnation features bold striped barrels with Sir Paul's signature, and a choice of signature colour where the ultra-slim presentation cases are concerned.
Think Nespresso and you'll think coffee. And maybe George Clooney. But now think 849, because Caran d'Ache teamed up with the coffee makers to create the 849 Nespresso - limited editions made from recycled aluminium coffee capsules and supplied in recyclable card packaging. On the scene at the moment is the Arpeggio Purple - team it with an espresso (and Mr Clooney, if you're lucky).
Sometimes you don’t want to follow the herd; sometimes you want a bit of 'you' in a design classic. Recognising this, Caran d'Ache created the Claim Your Style collection. These are quite startling 849s. They're sassy, they're in-your-face and they'd be difficult (fortunately) to lose, because of their bright, satin-finish barrels and contrasting pocket clips and push-buttons. And the clips and buttons don't match, by the way: the Veronese Green Claim Your Style, for instance, has a blue pocket clip and a red push button. Perfect for the subtle rebels out there.
And let's not forget the Cult Pens 849! It's OUR 849, created for our 15th birthday in association with Caran d'Ache in our Cult Pens dark blue and presented in a slim white case with the Cult Pens logo. We love it. Well how could you not?
The Caran d'Ache 849 - it truly is a design classic. Maybe not as awe-inspiring as fellow 51 year olds Concorde or the Harrier Jump Jet, but definitely as recognisable as another product of 1969 - the Tic Tac!
17 September 2020