What Switzerland is to watches, many would say Germany is to writing instruments: a variety of pen makers call this country home. And Pforzheim, which sits at the edge of the Black Forest, has been considered a hub of jewelry making since the 18th century. Thus the Pforzheim-based Otto Hutt combines the art of pen making with some well-placed artisanal jewelry-making skills when crafting its range of Bauhaus-inspired writing instruments.
Guilloche, for example, is evident on many of the company’s mostly metal pens, sometimes executed in traditional ways but more often these days via the use of modern CNC machines. Perhaps even more notable, all construction of Otto Hutt’s pens—fountain pens, rollerball pens, ballpoints and pencils—takes place in Pforzheim, including electroplating, varnishing, and polishing.
Otto Hutt was founded in 1920 by Karl Hutt, who produced silver pens and other small accessories, employing 20 people within the first year of operation. In the 1960s Karl’s son Otto took on the leadership of the company and still later, Robert E. Huber GmbH reinvigorated the brand. The company has since moved from that early location into a larger facility in Pforzheim (now with over 70 employees), and its pens are distributed in 20 countries.
The company’s writing instruments are cataloged by number, with design 01 through design 09 comprising the current collection. Another, design C, created in honor of Otto Hutt’s one-hundredth anniversary, is a stunning non-numeric limited edition that was crafted in conjunction with award-winning German product designer Mark Braun, who has worked with a number of high-profile brands including watch company Nomos Glashütte.
“Mark Braun is an outstanding German designer,” says Managing Director and Owner Marco Frei. “Employing a unique design language in numerous aspects of everyday life and its products, he has already won a great many awards. The close affinity to the Bauhaus school, his attitude towards quality, manufacturing precision and his attention to detail, are values that shine through every single product and form the basis of the cooperation between Mark Braun and Otto Hutt.”
The design 08, another feat of engineering also designed by Braun, followed.
Frei says of this model, “Every detail was meticulously planned. In total the fountain pen consists of 25 parts of which just seven are visible. The design 08 embodies an attitude where expert craftsmanship and high-tech claim their place in our everyday culture, our way of life.
“The result is the harmonious but strong presence of design 08, which is a testimony of the skill and knowledge combined in our company—let us call it ’21st century Bauhaus.’”
Both pens use the novel Pull+Twist™ mechanism—“an intelligent piston-based filling system where the finial knob is attached to the mechanism and can be turned for operation,” explains Frei.
It requires a “slow pull” that brings the Pull+Twist™ mechanism into the filling position, while turning it clockwise creates a vacuum inside the fountain pen, thereby drawing in ink.
The pen’s linear guilloche decoration is, I think, perfection. It lends a sense of visual order, which then reveals extraordinary precision.
“We wanted to integrate the guilloche technique, that sits deep within the heart of Otto Hutt’s history and is interpreted [here] in a contemporary way,” says Frei.
Earlier pen collections are obviously from the Otto Hutt family, but each is distinct and points to another facet of the company’s expertise.
“Otto Hutt design 01 and 02 date back to the roots of the company, while design 03 is an adaptation of the style of writing instruments from the 1940s,” Frei shares. “From design 05 on we have been working with designers to further develop our portfolio.
“The entire Otto Hutt collection consists of writing instruments for everyday use. Our fountain pens, rollerballs, ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils have gained a broad community of fans. The feedback on social media is really great and we enjoy the dialog. There are so many styles—everyone can find their favorite piece.”