Lamy

according to illustrator and Artist Christoph Niemann

December 2016
Christoph Niemann’s greatest skill is to extract the unfamiliar from the familiar and discover totally new things in everyday life. At Lamy, he studied the activity of writing itself and the writing instruments it produces. Niemann has published his view on these findings in The New Yorker (for which he regularly designs the cover), as well as in The New York Times Magazine and many German publications. His works have received numerous awards from the Art Directors Club, LEAD Awards, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA). He is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall Of Fame.
“The fascinating thing about my visit to the Lamy factory in Heidelberg was that the manufacturing process for these writing instruments can be tracked, in the true sense of the word: step-by-step, one step after the other. I found it fascinating how the pens are tested to ensure a consistent flow of ink. They are clamped in a machine that makes automatic circular motions while an endless roll of paper is passed underneath. This creates dense, mechanically drawn spirals. You can detect even the smallest irregularity in the moiré pattern or grid that emerges as a result of the crossing of the lines. These technical drawings, which only serve quality-control purposes, are actually very beautiful.
I was particularly fascinated by the Tumbler 2000 device, a rounded metal box onto which a net is connected by mechanical arms. This is the equivalent of a handbag, contrived by engineers in Switzerland. A mobile phone, a purse, and a fountain pen are put inside and then shaken around for three days. This technically-refined simulation of something as ordinary as a woman’s handbag really enchants me, it has poetry. For me, the dedication with which something so everyday is created is symbolic of Lamy.”
Revealing how crucial the role of the pen is to the process of creativity, Niemann says, “I believe in a circular process of devising, drawing, seeing, and deciding. In order to evaluate an image, you first have to take it from your mind and place it on paper. Then it goes from the eyes back into the mind. When you go through this cycle some 20 times, something interesting happens, with any luck — things you hadn’t previously planned that surprise you. I try to find those things which I do not yet know.”