The work of Kengo Kuma, dedicated to one pen

The architect Kengo Kuma has collaborated with Caran d'Ache to design a pen that utilises the texture of Japanese cypress.


WordsPen Editorial

Kengo Kuma loves trees. He even wishes he could always be close to them, especially when he is lost in thought. That is why the architect feels that the material of wood has a special meaning. The buildings he has designed, which make abundant use of wood, are testament to these beliefs of his. He also says that the texture of wood currently seems to be in demand all over the world. He believes that the pressures of our modern society, where we are surrounded by metal and glass, have led people to seek the warmth of organic wood.

With the evolution of digital devices, it is now possible to design and construct a building without ever holding a pen in your hand. Even so, Kengo Kuma always has a pen in his. Perhaps this is due to the unique softness of wood, which, unlike metal, feels secure to hold, as if it will become one with your hand. He says that the reason his pen draws exactly what he imagines onto the paper is because his mind is so relaxed.


With these ideas in mind, Kengo Kuma put his hand to designing a pen: the Varius KENGO KUMA, for the Swiss writing and art supplies brand Caran d’Ache. The pen is inspired by the company’s iconic Varius collection, which is renowned for using rare materials such as snakewood and crocodile skin. It is not surprising that the architect used wood for this model. The material he used was Japanese cypress, which is considered sacred in Japan. In addition to the unique texture of the Japanese cypress, the lattice-like pattern of the wood gives the pen a contrast between light and shadow.

Caran d'Ache is a long-established Swiss stationery and art supplies brand with over a century of history.

Kengo Kuma says that he designs from the same perspective when it comes to both architecture and products, but that, ‘Products have direct contact with the body. That’s why they have an even more intimate relationship with the people using them than architecture does.’ This means that you can sometimes get even more of a sense of his work from just a single pen than you can from his architecture.

The Varius Collection is made primarily by hand by Caran d’Ache's skilled technicians. The Varius KENGO KUMA has been created as a limited-edition product for the year 2020. The lineup includes a fountain pen, a roller ball, and a ballpoint pen.

These products are now available at the Caran d’Ache Boutique in Ginza, at the official online shop, and at Caran d’Ache retailers.