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When I heard that Napkin® had a pencil-like writing instrument that never needed to be sharpened, the first thing that popped into my head was “Napkin makes pens?” The second thing that popped into my head was “That sounds like the Jac Zagoory Beta Pen… Napkin makes pens?” The ubiquitous name “Napkin” conjures associations the same way “Kleenex” does – or, in this case, the way “Pininfarina” associates with luxury car design. Bring together designers from these two Italian companies to create a never-ending writing instrument, and the Napkin Forever Pininfarina Cambiano Desk Set emerges.
At first glance, you can see the Pininfarina influence in the sweeping design of the metal on the body of the instrument – I hesitate to call it a pencil or a pen, as neither description truly fits. Napkin has incorporated the same writing tip as it has on its other Forever pieces - Ethergraf®. Ethergraf® is a special metal alloy that creates a mark on paper via oxidation. The line looks like a pencil mark, but because it is interacting with the paper rather than leaving material on the surface like a pencil does, it isn’t erasable. I did notice that the darkness of the line varied depending on the type of paper, so that is something to consider if you prefer darker lines. The rest of the body is made of aluminum and walnut, with the metal portion available in either a Matte Black (more of a grey on my example) or Copper color. The piece feels a little rear heavy, though when actually writing the weight distribution doesn’t hinder the user. What I really like is the pen holder/desk stand/protective case. Made of walnut, like the body of the pen, it allows you to either have the pen standing at an angle, laying flat across the top, or protected inside (this is how the pen arrives). This box is actually functional and won't be just taking up space in a drawer or closet, a nice variation from the norm.
As for the actual writing experience – this is an interesting piece. On some types of paper, I noticed an almost “stickiness” when lifting it off of the page. This only occurred after I had written something and was very deliberate in lifting the instrument off the page, but did not appear if I touched it to paper or wrote as I normally would. Perhaps this is a side effect of the alloy’s interaction with the paper? The weight felt good in the hand despite its relative unevenness, and the shape was very ergonomic. The instrument was relatively smooth across the page, though not as smooth as an HB pencil I happened to have on my desk. This set is a statement - automotive design meshing with innovative creativity - rather than something to replace your favorite pen or pencil.
Standing in its holder, the pen has a somewhat retro look due to the materials used, and the Pininfarina influenced lines make it look like it’s going 100 MPH. The desk stand is a fantastic touch and something I think, other than never needing to purchase another pencil or sharpener (or eraser), really adds to the value. If you're looking for a stylish writing instrument which melds Italian automobile flair with modern metallurgy, the Napkin Forever Pininfarina Cambiano Desk Set is a fine choice.
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