Design

Students reimagine the pencil with surprising interpretations

These clever designs give the universally recognized writing implement new purpose.

Student Evgeny Barkov drew inspiration from prehistoric carving tools to create wood and polymer pencils. Student Evgeny Barkov drew inspiration from prehistoric carving tools to create wood and polymer pencils. Student Evgeny Barkov drew inspiration from prehistoric carving tools to create wood and polymer pencils. (Photo: Luka Or)

Third-year industrial design students at the Holon Institute of Technology in Israel were charged with re-imagining the classic pencil by giving it new life and purpose. Their professors, acclaimed designers Luka Or and Keren Tomer, said the implicit goal of the project was to make the students understand that innovation can be achieved in everyday found objects right under their noses. Good design, the designers say, can make even the humble, universally used pencil both smart and desirable.

The students came up with 18 wild interpretations of the implement, and no two projects were alike. Among the designs: a new approach to sketching that merged the pencil with a set of brushes, a tube pencil that approached sharpening from a new angle and pencils for specific tasks like writing letters of fashion pattern making.

The roller pencils by student Noy Meiri were designed to be used for pattern making in fashion. These roller pencils by student Noy Meiri were designed to be used for pattern making in fashion. (Photo: Luka Or)

“The pencil is a very specific and classic object with a significant historical and cultural value,” Or told From The Grapevine. “Every student has an intimate knowledge of the object and affection towards it, and so it has room for re-interpretations, from the materials to the function and forms.”

Student Gal Yacobi merged the pencil with the functionality of a stamp, creating a hybrid for writing and sealing letters. Student Gal Yacobi merged the pencil with the functionality of a stamp, creating a hybrid for writing and sealing letters. (Photo: Luka Or)

Or says it can be easy to fall into regular conventions when designing an object, and even when re-designing one. “The real challenge was not to re-shape the pencil but rather to use it as a base for self expression and for design innovation,” Or told us. “Here we saw a range of original ideas and interpretations. Each student took the pencil to his own domain and they were brave enough to try to find their own personal connection to the project."

The tube pencil concept by student Yam Amir borrows the mechanics of a tube. The tube pencil concept by student Yam Amir borrows the mechanics of a tube. (Photo: Luka Or)

Or, who founded his Israel-based design studio in 2004, has been teaching design and interactive design at the Holon Institute of Technology since 2006. “I love being constantly surprised by new ideas and approaches and find it extremely satisfying and humbling to be a part of each student's process of understanding the language of design,” Or explains.

Student Ofra Oberman invented a series of brush pencils designed for a more flowing sketching experience.Student Ofra Oberman invented a series of brush pencils designed for a more flowing sketching experience. (Photo: Luka Or)

At a time when we find ourselves writing, sketching and communicating on digital devices more than ever, it's refreshing to see the classic pencil making a comeback.

Lindsay E. Brown is the managing editor of Eco-Chick, the web’s first ethical fashion, beauty and travel site for women. She has written for Whole Living Magazine, Edible, and Cottages & Gardens. Lindsay has been featured as a fashion and beauty expert on the Veria Living Network. Lindsay holds a BS in Global Business Studies and Marketing from Manhattan College, and received the 2012 Honors Award at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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