Since 1912, Montegrappa has been manufacturing writing instruments in the same historic building on the bank of the river Brenta, near Vicenza in northern Italy. The river winds through one of the most picturesque areas of the country and through the historic town of Bassano del Grappa. For Montegrappa its Italian heritage is an important component of the company’s persona: that it is the first Italian fountain-pen manufacturer. ‘Italian-ness’ is at the heart of Montegrappa tradition, and it is at the heart of the company’s philosophy.
During his recent visit to Kuwait, we met Montegrappa’s Sales Director, Majidi Al Fardha, at the Montegrappa boutique in The Avenues Mall.
MP: The Aquila family have owned the company almost continuously throughout the life of Montegrappa. Their involvement, and this rich heritage, must play a key part in the strength of the brand today?
Majidi: It does. It is quite one thing to be a manufacturer of instruments with the beauty of those which we create at Montegrappa, but to be able to do this will the depth of history and passion that the Aquila family have brought to the company really adds a unique dimension.
MP: Even from the beginning of Montegrappa, the company always took the view that what they were producing were works of art.
Majidi: This has always been one of the strengths of Montegrappa. From the earliest days we sought the most skilled craftsmen to make our pens. For this reason we have never, and can never, be a company to mass-produce pens.
MP: Indeed. Alongside its innate ‘Italian-ness’, another key defining feature of Montegrappa is its exclusivity and limited editions.
Majidi: If you look back from today throughout the hundred year history of the Montegrappa, around 85% of all that we have produced has been part of limited edition collections.
MP: What is the future for the art of writing itself. Certainly towards the end of the 20th century there was a decline in people’s desire to handwrite, do you see though that there is resurgence in the act of writing?
Majidi: The fact is that, today, people don’t need to write in the same way they once did. Now everything is on your cellphone, or on the computer. But writing, and the act of doing so, is a special experience that today’s generation is returning to. They see this as a skill that, whatever technology brings, we must never lose as a civilization. Even writing with a roller-ball is better than not writing at all. But writing with a fountain pen gives the purest experience of all.
MP: What is the key skill possessed by Montegrappa in creating the perfect writing instruments?
Majidi: To answer this you must understand that we create our pens to satisfy a small, but diverse, group of people. First there is ourselves – we must feel a passion for what we create. Then there are those who maintain a love of handwriting. And then there are those who chose to collect Montegrappa – they admire the purity and aesthetics of our instruments. To satisfy all these we rely heavily on our heritage, our ten decades of experience, our century of style. We also look at those throughout our own history who have inspired us. We created a limited edition honoring Mohammed Ali, and another honoring Paulo Coelho. It is the inspiration of such people, and the passions of those that came before us that deliver us the skills to continue to create our fine pieces.
You can find out more about Montegrappa at montegrappa.com and by visiting the boutique at The Avenues Mall.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #37 February 2012