What do you get when you cross a never-ending pencil with a luxury Italian car designer? You get the Napkin Forever Pininfarina Cambiano Pencil! The guys at Napkin Forever teamed up with Pininfarina, designer of numerous Italian cars, to create a pencil that is truly a beautiful work of art.
When I first saw this pencil, I was a mix of skeptical and confused. The makers define this writing instrument to be a "pencil" so I will call it that too. This instrument has no ink (despite the ink bottle in the picture) so it's not officially a pen [according to Wikipedia]. Also, this instrument does not use any type of lead or graphite to mark the writing surface so it does need any refilling.
So, what exactly is this thing? Well, it is an aluminum casing with inlaid walnut wood. It also features a unique metal tip made of a patented alloy called "Ethergraf" that oxidizes the paper on contact, leaving a pencil-like mark. However, unlike a pencil, the marks left are permanent on the page like a pen. This makes for quite an interesting combination never really seen in the wild.
The pen is packaged in a very nice walnut wood box and slipped into a cardboard sleeve, adorned with the Pininfarina logo. The box is very well built and feels strong and durable. The walnut wood grain is quite striking and beautiful when the light catches it.
Unlike most boxes that open up from the top, this box has a slot on its side for the pencil. As you remove the plastic cover with the Napkin logo you reveal the lovely pencil comfortably napping in its lined cave. This design for the box is also very unique and functional, without taking up too much space.
Here, you can see the wild pencil coming out to play!
The first thing about the pencil that you notice is the inlaid walnut wood differently on the body as well as the shiny aluminum casing. This is quite a lovely dichotomy and looks very luxurious. Engraved on the wood inlays is the same Pininfarina logo found on the box.
The box features a shallow cut-out that functions as a pen rest when the pencil is not in use. There is also a diagonally drilled hole on one side of the box that turns the pen into a desk display set.
As for the writing aspect, this pencil feels very much like a blunted pencil with a very hard lead. With little pressure, the line from this pencil is quite light and looks much like 2H or a 3H pencil (5 steps lighter than a 2B). The pencil requires quite a significant amount of force to achieve a dark line, but even the darkest line remains a dark gray instead of a black. Needing so much force, the pen also generates quite a good amount of friction with the paper, so it is not smooth. If you prefer to use darker pencils, then this one is probably not for you.
The pencil feels great in the hand thanks to its tapered body and nice heft. The pencil clocks in at 6.5" (16.5cm) which is a comfortable pencil size. Although thin, the pencil weighs a good 1.54oz (55g). The center of gravity about a centimeter away from the center, towards the back.
Each of these Pininfarina Cambiano pencils are handmade in Italy with the metal tips forged by a group of goldsmiths. This pen is available in three designs (the walnut being the most popular) and retails for $120.