when lászló bíró saw a ball rolling through a puddle on the street and leaving a trail of water behind it, he conceived an idea that would go on to change everyday life forever. based on what he had seen, the hungarian journalist along with his brother georg, began to work on the first commercially successful ballpoint pen. —
a brief history bíró had become frustrated by the time spent filling-up fountain pens and waiting for the ink to dry. he had seaen that the ink used to print newspapers dried much quicker and so decided to create a pen using the same type of ink. In 1938 the bíró brothers patented a design which featured a tiny ball in its tip, which turned freely in a socket. as the ball moved along the paper it rotated, picking up ink from the cartridge and leaving it on the paper. whilst ballpoint pens had existed in the past – none had proved very popular due to constant problems with clogging,
leakage and ink distribution – the bíró’s, was the first pen that significantly overcame these problems.
after relocating to argentina in 1940 the bírós licensed their design to a number of makers in the US and britain but it was almost ten years later when the design was mastered and introduced to the rest of the world. marcel bich a french pen manufacturer who had bought the ballpoint pen patent from lászló bíró – ironed out the remaining design problems (mainly ink distribution) and began huge, low cost mass prodctions of the ‘bic crystal’. it’s not surprising to hear that in 2005 bic sold its one hundred billionth pen, when you consider just how many of their pens you might have owned, borrowed or even stolen.
– dining in 2015, was ‘din-ink’ by andrea cingoli, paolo emilio bellisario, cristian cellini and francesca fontana from italy. the design sees pen-lids integrated with cutlery allowing the user to transform their writing tools into a knife, fork and spoon. finally there is a good excuse for when you’re caught gnawing on the end of your pen!
another designboom competition entry which used the ‘bic pen’ was giffin termeers ‘dasiy vase’. developed for
the macef award 2004 – H2O_on the table, the american design duo blow-mold the pens by hand. as the plastic becomes flexible its stretches allowing the vase to sit naturally. since its initial competition success the’daisy vase’ has been shown at designboom marts, and can also be purchased online from the designboom shop.
bic pens have found their way into the work of several other designers and would-be inventors. from maneuverable lighting and chandeliers to candy and weaponry – more ‘bic pen’ projects are featured (below) here:
Via www.designboom.com with thanks