Giuseppe Aquila, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mon­te­grappa, tells Selina Den­man why he pays no heed to those who say there’s no room for writ­ing in­stru­ments in a dig­i­tal world

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The pen may well be might­ier than the sword, but by com­bin­ing both el­e­ments in its lat­est cre­ation, Mon­te­grappa may just have cre­ated the might­i­est pen of them all. The Sa­mu­rai is part-writ­ing in­stru­ment, part-ob­jet d’art and part-ac­tion fig­ure. In­spired by Ja­pan’s famed war­riors, it comes clad in a his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate suit of ar­mour, painstak­ingly ren­dered through the an­cient lost-wax tech­nique, which is more com­monly used in jew­ellery-mak­ing. As a re­sult, the suit’s “kuwa­gata” hel­met, “kote” sleeve ar­mour and lay­ered, em­broi­dered “kusazuri” skirt are recre­ated in un­fath­omable de­tail.

Three years in the mak­ing, the Sa­mu­rai is lim­ited to 177 pens in sil­ver and seven in solid gold. It ex­ists only as a foun­tain pen and is fit­ted with an 18k gold nib. Each comes in a black lac­quer box, with the an­cient char­ac­ter for sa­mu­rai printed on its top. It is ac­com­pa­nied by a bot­tle of ink and a katana sword that acts as a fully func­tional pa­per cut­ter.

Sa­mu­rai is the first model in the War­riors col­lec­tion – which was con­ceived to cel­e­brate the most noble com­bat­ants through­out his­tory – and will be avail­able from this month at Mon­te­grappa’s newly opened store in The Dubai Mall. The 720-square-foot fa­cil­ity in

the new Fash­ion Av­enue ex­ten­sion is now the brand’s Mid­dle East flag­ship and – for those who like their pens a lit­tle more stream­lined than the Sa­mu­rai – of­fers plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for cus­tomers to cre­ate be­spoke writ­ing in­stru­ments.

The brand’s ex­ist­ing Ate­lier ser­vice al­lows you to choose one of three op­tions – Am­phora, Ex­tra Be­spoke and Arte – as the base for your de­sign, and you can then opt to have spe­cific im­ages or sym­bols hand-en­graved or painted on to it. This might be a pic­ture of a loved one, a favourite pet, a per­sonal sym­bol or sign, or in the case of the Arte ser­vice, an old mas­ter­piece. “This is geared more to­wards art col­lec­tors and al­lows them to re­pro­duce, on their pen, part of their col­lec­tion. They might not be able to carry their favourite paint­ing around, but if they want to keep it close to their heart, we can re­pro­duce it on their pen,” ex­plains Giuseppe Aquila, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mon­te­grappa.

The idea of one’s writ­ing in­stru­ment be­ing close to one’s heart re­sounds with Aquila, who is the third gen­er­a­tion of his fam­ily to be in­volved in the busi­ness. “I’m often asked about tech­nol­ogy, but when you write some­thing, you re­ally record it in your mem­ory. It’s a very im­por­tant rit­ual – the one of writ­ing. It’s the best way to ex­press your emo­tions. You keep the pen close to your heart be­cause it is in touch with your in­ner soul,” he ex­plains.

To that ef­fect, those who are an­tic­i­pat­ing the demise of the pen in an in­creas­ingly tech­nol­ogy-dom­i­nated world, could yet be proven wrong. “Mil­len­ni­als and the younger gen­er­a­tion are un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of writ­ing. Even on so­cial me­dia, there is a lot of buzz about cal­lig­ra­phy,” Aquila points out. “This has gen­er­ated a lot of in­ter­est, and in the last two years, we’ve seen a 60 per cent in­crease in the sales of foun­tain pens.”

The com­pany has re­sponded with in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated cre­ations. “We’ve taken it to new lev­els,” ex­plains Aquila. “Our de­vel­op­ment is now to­wards what we call ‘com­pli­cated’ pens, so just like you have com­pli­cated watches, we are do­ing the same thing with pens – adding new fea­tures to the pens that make them more unique and more ap­peal­ing for col­lec­tors.”

The Sa­mu­rai is a prime ex­am­ple of the brand’s artis­tic cre­ations, but so is the Re­volver, which was in­spired by the weapon, and has a cham­ber with mock bul­lets in­side it that can be spun around. The Q1, mean­while, is a foun­tain pen that can write with four dif­fer­ent colours of ink.

Mon­te­grappa has a long his­tory of cre­at­ing spe­cial and lim­ited-edi­tion writ­ing in­stru­ments, whether they are cel­e­brat­ing novelist Ernest Hem­ing­way’s sem­i­nal work The Old Man and the Sea, the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League or in­di­vid­u­als such as po­lit­i­cal leader Nel­son Man­dela, au­thor Kahlil Gi­bran and artist Sal­vador Dalí. This year, the brand cre­ated a Year of Zayed pen to com­mem­o­rate the Found­ing Fa­ther of the UAE, and has also cre­ated the Ishy Bi­lady, which fea­tures words from the UAE’s na­tional an­them in Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy across its bar­rel and cap.

Aquila notes that the av­er­age age of pen col­lec­tors in the UAE is younger than in other parts of the world, and that “they are very ad­ven­tur­ous in their pur­chases, which makes it very in­ter­est­ing”.

These col­lec­tors will have plenty more to ex­per­i­ment with in the com­ing months. “We have de­vel­oped a plat­form that we will be launch­ing to­wards the end of the year, where you can con­fig­ure your own pen – across more than 200,000 dif­fer­ent com­bi­na­tions,” Aquila re­veals. “You can choose the ma­te­rial for the cap, the colour for the bar­rel, you can mix and match, in­clude your zo­diac sign, or your ini­tials, stones and colours – you can re­ally dress it up any way you want, to match your per­son­al­ity.”

The Sa­mu­rai pen comes clad in a his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate suit of ar­mour, fea­tur­ing the ‘kuwa­gata’ hel­met, ‘kote’ sleeves and an em­broi­dered ‘kusazuri’ skirt

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