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Lamy design - has Lamy lost its design edge?



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Chandon

I may well be wrong, but it seems to me as though Lamy is no longer as innovative a company, in terms of its launch of new designs, as was once the case in the 1970s/1980s to 2000s? What do you think? I first started using Lamy pens in 1979, when I got given a matching black CP1 fountain pen and fineliner on a trip to Munich, and throughout the next 30 odd years the company came up with a series of great designs for all types of its pens (Dialog, Unic, Lady, Persona, Accent, ABC, Nexx, Pico, Scribble etc). Over the last few years, however, there seems to have been very little new innovation and the company just seems keen to rest on its laurels and just release "special editions", or different coloured models of existing pens.  The latest example of this is the mooted brown 2000 being released for three times the price of the black model! I understand that the company's job is to make money for its owners, and I also realise that the management team changed in 2018, so maybe this led to a change of strategy? Covid has obviously slowed down the release of new models, like the Ideos and Dialog CC, but even before that, some of the 2019 models, such as the Xevo ballpoint were never even released. I just can't help feeling that something may have changed and the company is no longer prepared to launch the kind of innovative designs that made it stand-out so much in past (which is/would be a shame). Any thoughts would be welcome.

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hari317

They released the Aion

a few years back which seems to be quite popular. Some designs work, some don’t. It’s a fact of life. To their credit they still produce the winner designs and don’t retire them just like that. Persona did not work and was retired and then brought back as a new model. I am not into the le Colors thing. But if it helps the sales why not. 

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arcfide

I think a part of it also has to be diminishing returns when it comes to new pen designs and the lively market for collectible editions. I think in some sense it just makes market sense. 

 

Additionally, it's easy for a company to produce more colors, relatively speaking, compared to producing a whole new pen. I think Lamy must release new colors just to stay relevant, but that also means that the new pen models will appear less frequent simply because most of the action will be happening with the colors. 

 

If you look at Lamy compared to most of the other pen makers, I don't think I see them being abnormally conservative with the rate of their pen designs, and in some ways they are more aggressive with it. I mean, how many fundamentally new models has Montblanc, Pelikan, or the Japanese makers produced lately? Montblanc has the reputation of spending lots on producing all their limited editions, but they don't have a lot of changes to their main line of pens. The same goes for all the other companies as far as I can tell. 

 

So, no, I don't think they've lost their edge, it's just where the market is at right now, probably, IMO.

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Calabria

Some of the newer designs I liked and bought with their release years (randomly culled from a Google search - correct me if I’m wrong):

aion - 2017

2000M (stainless steel) - 2013

dialog 3 - 2009

studio - 2005

scribble - 2000

accent - 1998

persona - 1990

pico - no date

 

I know what you’re saying - the 2000M is not a new design; but the manufacturing process is.

 

Anyway, looks pretty consistent to me!

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Sk33t3r

I'd be happy if they created a pen at the Safari price point that had a round grip section.

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 I would answer 'no', but I think you can build a really strong argument using the Aion and the (TBD) Dialog CC.

 

 The Aion has a trendy design; yes, it may technically follow Ram's rules of design, but there is a sense of inconsistency between the relative flow of the barrell and the chunkiness of the cap.

 

 The Dialog CC, (at least from low-res pictures) SCREAMS the adoption of post-modern design into contractor buildings, (that includes housing), especially due to its flash of gold on its finial and near the nib.

 

 Based on the two pens, one could deduce that Lamy is trying to generate interest by novel-looking products that take inspiration from Lamy's Bauhaus-esque past by turning it into something that appeals to the tastes of a certain era. The aforementioned designs could be compromised due to the usage of certain 'embellishments' that may, after a certain period of time, make the pens dated purely due to their looks and nothing else.

 

This is a stark contrast from the LAMY pens of the '60s-'80s that tried to retain a timeless form of futurism.

 

 I hope my rambling makes some sense...

 

 😁

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Chandon
21 hours ago, hari317 said:

They released the Aion

a few years back which seems to be quite popular. Some designs work, some don’t. It’s a fact of life. To their credit they still produce the winner designs and don’t retire them just like that. Persona did not work and was retired and then brought back as a new model. I am not into the le Colors thing. But if it helps the sales why not. 

Good points, hari317.  It would be interesting if they bought back some of the other designs. Given the appreciation of the 2000 and the CP1 lines, I'm surprised that the ST was scrapped and that the Unic has not been re-issued, as an homage to Gerd Muller.  I am not into the colours thing either.

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Chandon
11 hours ago, arcfide said:

I think a part of it also has to be diminishing returns when it comes to new pen designs and the lively market for collectible editions. I think in some sense it just makes market sense. 

 

Additionally, it's easy for a company to produce more colors, relatively speaking, compared to producing a whole new pen. I think Lamy must release new colors just to stay relevant, but that also means that the new pen models will appear less frequent simply because most of the action will be happening with the colors. 

 

If you look at Lamy compared to most of the other pen makers, I don't think I see them being abnormally conservative with the rate of their pen designs, and in some ways they are more aggressive with it. I mean, how many fundamentally new models has Montblanc, Pelikan, or the Japanese makers produced lately? Montblanc has the reputation of spending lots on producing all their limited editions, but they don't have a lot of changes to their main line of pens. The same goes for all the other companies as far as I can tell. 

 

So, no, I don't think they've lost their edge, it's just where the market is at right now, probably, IMO.

Arcfide, you make a good point about other manufacturers, although I've always thought that Lamy was the most design-led company of the majors. I am not an expert, but Montblanc seems to be the outlier in your list, as it can probably afford to take more risks than many other companies (and release some fairly outlandish special editions that will not appeal to everyone) and be certain to sell them as (rightly or wrongly) the company has the cachet (in some peoples' eyes) and the marketing budget to sell them. The M looks look like the kind of pen Lamy could have designed. 

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jchch1950

The Ideos model, as seen in some photos should be a new design. I,m waiting for the pen to be on sale and have definitive opinion about the design 😀

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samasry

There is a useful  youtube video where  Goulet visited  the Lamy factory  in Germany,  and he  had  a long interview with the CEO of Lamy.

 

One of the things that came during the interview is that  Lamy  builds  its  own pen making machines in the engineering sense and make sure they are fully automated, through a strong in-house engineering department.  

 

On the design front, if I recall correctly, the CEO estimated that new designs takes years to materialize. 

 

 The CEO  also indicated is that they do not  develop  new  pen designs  in-house and they do not even have a design department as such. I think they hire some outside design firm or something, you can check the in-depth detail in the video

 

 

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Chandon
5 hours ago, AL01 said:

 

 I would answer 'no', but I think you can build a really strong argument using the Aion and the (TBD) Dialog CC.

 

 The Aion has a trendy design; yes, it may technically follow Ram's rules of design, but there is a sense of inconsistency between the relative flow of the barrell and the chunkiness of the cap.

 

 The Dialog CC, (at least from low-res pictures) SCREAMS the adoption of post-modern design into contractor buildings, (that includes housing), especially due to its flash of gold on its finial and near the nib.

 

 Based on the two pens, one could deduce that Lamy is trying to generate interest by novel-looking products that take inspiration from Lamy's Bauhaus-esque past by turning it into something that appeals to the tastes of a certain era. The aforementioned designs could be compromised due to the usage of certain 'embellishments' that may, after a certain period of time, make the pens dated purely due to their looks and nothing else.

 

This is a stark contrast from the LAMY pens of the '60s-'80s that tried to retain a timeless form of futurism.

 

 I hope my rambling makes some sense...

 

 😁

Yes, it does and is a good way of looking at it. You are dead right about the pens of the 1960s to the 1980s. I am not a fan of the Aion design, and think that the ballpoint is a particularly unusable pen as it way too back-weighted. I wonder if Jasper Morrison took his inspiration from the Parker 25? He is about the right age to have been using one in the 1970s? 

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arcfide

I just thought of something else in Lamy's favor. Most pen companies tend to have a design, and then stick with it. While this is true for Lamy, I think the Dialog and other pens shows their willingness to redesign or improve a pen that has some faults. The original Dialog 3 pens seemed to dry out a lot faster than the current ones (even if the new ones are not a perfect seal) by many reports, and I believe that there were some things done to another pen model I've seen to stabilize the pens a bit more. Those changes seemed to roll out a lot faster than, say, the timeline for the updated 3776 pens from Platinum with improved feed designs and the Slip and Seal inner cap. 

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Chandon
3 minutes ago, samasry said:

There is a useful  youtube video where  Goulet visited  the Lamy factory  in Germany,  and he  had  a long interview with the CEO of Lamy.

 

One of the things that came during the interview is that  Lamy  builds  its  own pen making machines in the engineering sense and make sure they are fully automated, through a strong in-house engineering department.  

 

On the design front, if I recall correctly, the CEO estimated that new designs takes years to materialize. 

 

 The CEO  also indicated is that they do not  develop  new  pen designs  in-house and they do not even have a design department as such. I think they hire some outside design firm or something, you can check the in-depth detail in the video

 

 

Samasry, thank you for that. You made a good point.  I saw that video and was impressed by the CEO and the insight that he gave into how the company works; but that CEO has now been replaced by a new trio of CEOs and this was what made me think that there had been a change of corporate direction. 

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Chandon
5 minutes ago, arcfide said:

I just thought of something else in Lamy's favor. Most pen companies tend to have a design, and then stick with it. While this is true for Lamy, I think the Dialog and other pens shows their willingness to redesign or improve a pen that has some faults. The original Dialog 3 pens seemed to dry out a lot faster than the current ones (even if the new ones are not a perfect seal) by many reports, and I believe that there were some things done to another pen model I've seen to stabilize the pens a bit more. Those changes seemed to roll out a lot faster than, say, the timeline for the updated 3776 pens from Platinum with improved feed designs and the Slip and Seal inner cap. 

Thanks  - that is a good point. I can't comment on Platinum' s 3776 as I have never used one

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Chandon
12 minutes ago, jchch1950 said:

The Ideos model, as seen in some photos should be a new design. I,m waiting for the pen to be on sale and have definitive opinion about the design 😀

I have only seen the Lamy promo video that was released a while ago, so am not exactly sure what it looks like. Will it have a new nib and feed design?

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7 hours ago, Chandon said:

Yes, it does and is a good way of looking at it. You are dead right about the pens of the 1960s to the 1980s. I am not a fan of the Aion design, and think that the ballpoint is a particularly unusable pen as it way too back-weighted. I wonder if Jasper Morrison took his inspiration from the Parker 25? He is about the right age to have been using one in the 1970s? 

 

 Who knows...

 

 The promotional video from Morrison and LAMY makes it look like the Aion is an extension of Morrison's design language. It does look different from Morrison's tools, etc.

 

 The Parker 25 still looks futuristic in a kitschy way, kinda sorta like the Safari. 

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bonnie-scott
20 hours ago, Calabria said:

aion - 2017

2000M (stainless steel) - 2013

dialog 3 - 2009

studio - 2005

scribble - 2000

accent - 1998

persona - 1990

pico - no date

Pico was introduced in 2001.   and although not a fountain pen there is the Noto introduced in 2010

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bonnie-scott
On 6/14/2021 at 10:20 AM, Chandon said:

. I just can't help feeling that something may have changed and the company is no longer prepared to launch the kind of innovative designs that made it stand-out so much in past (which is/would be a shame). Any thoughts would be welcome.

Hi Chandon,

an interesting question and one I'm sure I'm not qualified to speak on, but that never seems to stop me 🤣

 

I had thought about producing a timeline of new models for Lamy since the Lamy 2000.  Unfortunately I don't have enough information to do so confidently.  However if any one else on the forum has done such a thing, or has the necessary information I would be very interested.

 

Without this it is difficult to see whether new pens come in fits and starts or at fairly regular intervals, and hence whether there has been a slow down in new models over the last decade.

 

As others have pointed out there are supposed to be a couple of new models in the pipeline, these may just have been delayed due to the World Economic Situation, a pandemic perhaps isn't the best time to launch new models.

 

Arcfide makes a good point about the rate of new pens produced by other pen manufacturers, is it just a case tat we have been a bit spoilt in the past in the number of new products launched by Lamy?

 

Reading some Lamy literature they indicate that some new pens were driven by a 'gap' in the market.  This is said to be one of the reasons for the CP1 that it would appeal to women and Lamy didn't have an existing product.  Looking at the current Lamy line up are there many gaps?  So the choice would be retire and replace an existing product, or release a new pen which may simply take sales from existing models.....

 

So what are other peoples thoughts, what would you retire and replace.....

 

One final point, is what is Lamy's current focus.  I haven't looked into their earnings over recent years, are the European and US markets about saturated, Lamy does seem to be focussing on the Far Eastern Market and growing that may the current focus.

 

But then again all the above could just be the ramblings of a deranged Lamy collector 🤣

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Chandon

Bonnie-Scott - thanks very much for your thoughts. You've made some good points. Thinking about your question about what is Lamy's focus now, my answer to this would be that I believe that there has been a step change in the company's focus in the last few years, and particularly since the new trio of CEOs took over from Bernard Roesner (the previous CEO, who was interviewed by Brian Goulet back in 2017 or 2018). Of course, I can't prove this, but thinking about all of my own career in business, whenever the CEO changes, the new one always wants to change gear and there are usually always problems. I am surprised at there now being three CEOs - what does that say? Sadly, Dr Manfred Lamy also died last year, who was the key link to the past and who was probably a block to any radical change. 

 

To my (cynical) mind, there has definitely been a shift towards milking the existing product line for as much cash as possible; think about releasing three different coloured Safaris in a year, and a brown 2000! The development and R&D time for a new pen could be two to three years, so there should now be models like the Xevo ballpoint coming out (which were commissioned in Roesner's time as CEO) and promised in 2018. I saw an Aion prototype at the Lamy Design exhibition in Frankfurt in 2016 but it took until June 2017 to be released in Germany. 

 

Like you, I am not qualified to discuss any of this, but things just seem different to me at Lamy these days. Thanks for your comments - much appreciated. 

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Chandon
12 hours ago, AL01 said:

 

 Who knows...

 

 The promotional video from Morrison and LAMY makes it look like the Aion is an extension of Morrison's design language. It does look different from Morrison's tools, etc.

 

 The Parker 25 still looks futuristic in a kitschy way, kinda sorta like the Safari. 

I think you're right about the Parker 25. I could almost imagine this as a Lamy pen. Their prices are now rising fast - especially for the ones with the orange sections (upward of €300 on e-Bay, recently)!

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