Montegrappa, one of the oldest and finest pen makers in the world has just opened its flagship boutiques at the Palladium in Mumbai and the DLF Emporio in New Delhi. Deriving its name from Mount Grappa in Italy, the firm has manufactured writing instruments since 1912. . We sit down with CEO Giuseppe Aquila to find out what makes them so special:
1.The only two Montegrappa stores in South Asia are located in India (Mumbai and New Delhi). What made India the right place?
A: We have very good local partners. Being Italian we really appreciate Indian culture and tradition and we find a lot of things in common in terms of mentality and lifestyle. India has a booming economy with a great number of high net worth individuals. It could become one of our 4 or 5 top markets .
2. What is the defining attribute of Montegrappa pens? How do you define style?
A: Montegrappa has been around for 103 years, it’s a historical brand. What distinguishes us from the others is our unique craftsmanship and quality. Any Montegrappa pen is specially recognizable for its design and for its style. Throughout its history it’s been known to make bespoke pens for heads of state, royalty and celebrities. We work very carefully around a theme and the inspiration behind a pen so that those pens tell a story.
3. Montegrappa has expanded its portfolio. Tell us more about that. Will those products also be sold in the stores in India?
A: One of the main ideas behind opening the boutique is to have a sufficient space where we can showcase the full range of products and not just the pens. This includes our range of watches, men’s jewellery- particularly cufflinks. We also have small and large leather goods and fragrances along with few other lines of products that are coming up.
4. How did you come to select Sylvester Stallone as your brand ambassador?
A: Most people only know Stallone the movie star. What they don’t know is that he is also an avid illustrator. Our ‘Chaos’ series has been designed by him. Apart from that he’s also an investor in the company.
5. Are themes a big part of your designs?
A: Definitely. Because limited edition pens represent 50% of our sales. We have different collections which celebrate different things. We have one line called icons which are dedicated to iconic personalities. The first one we launched was in 2010, based on Mohammed Ali. We’ve also based them on Bruce Lee, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
Last year we dedicated one to Pele` to celebrate the Fifa World Cup and one to Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna. We’ve had so many different series, dedicated to artists and other geniuses who’ve left a mark on this world such as Khalil Gibran. Our ‘Cult’ series celebrates popular icons and we recently tied up with DC comics to design a pen based on Batman
6. How has technology changed the way the pens are designed?
A; We employ state of the art softwares and 3D modeling now. but it hasn’t changed much on the production side because the finishing touches such as the engraving and setting of the jewels – these are all done by craftsmen.
7. Is the physical act of writing less significant in an electronic age?
A: In a time when there is such advanced technology, a beautiful writing instrument is more relevant than just a normal pen. It’s true that the writing instrument industry has been suffering in general but maybe in different segments of the market. People still appreciate fountain pens in particular. They write less now, and because of that, when they do write, they want to write with something special.
The role of the pen has changed from when we started out in 1912, when the pen was a necessary communication tool. Today it’s also a personal statement. Mount Grappa – the mountain which we’ve derived our name from, was a hotspot for military action in the First World War and we were one of the few companies that continued to produce pens even though a lot of them had switched to munitions. Because pens were needed to write home.