Christoph Schnug has made a decisive contribution to shaping the DNA of Prodir pens. The desk in his office is covered in sketches of the new DS9. He belongs to a generation of designers who learned their craft without computers. At least to begin with. That perhaps explains the classical simplicity of his designs, always clear and direct.
Mr Schnug, how do you characterise the Prodir DNA?
Christoph Schnug: The DNA is the list of ingredients or the formula that all Prodir products have in common. They offer something new time and again with surprising compositions and yet remain recognisable. It is precisely this that sets Prodir apart from other providers. We consciously focused on our DNA when we started work on the DS9. As a common denominator, it consists of circles, ovals, ellipses, squares, triangles and simple lines. These elements comprise the DNA’s visual language.
And how is this DNA integrated into the new DS9?
Christoph Schnug: The oval and circle are the main shapes we use in the DS9. Its casing shape evolves gradually from round to oval. This elegant change in the shape is also evident when you hold the pen in your hand. The DS9 is an almost geometric pen, which also offers details to “break up” this stringent design: take, for example, the asymmetry of the connection between the clip and body, and the change in surface from shiny polished to matt. A “disruptive element” is often the detail that makes a design so effective. It is a feature that attracts the eye momentarily. A little like a perfect tennis court at Wimbledon with a tuft of grass protruding, which is exactly what makes it so beautiful.
One feature that immediately catches the eye is its striking clip.
Christoph Schnug: There are lots of details to discover. It is rather exciting to pick up the DS9 and turn it in your hand, taking a moment to carefully take in the various angles. The clip is one of the dominant elements on every pen. In the case of the DS9, it offers a fantastic printing surface. It is flat on top and has a symmetrical, oval shape. The push button is also oval, and if it is produced in a different colour, two-colour logos can be very effectively presented. It allows a great deal of scope for creativity.
The colour range of the DS9 also has a character all of its own.
Christoph Schnug: We specifically selected colours that match the pen. This is not a case of “one scale fits all”, but instead, a “carefully selected melody” very much in tune with the writing instrument. The palette includes 20 colour tones, including “material-like” colours such as Forest green, Denim blue, Leather or Cement grey, as well as highly emotional colours like Sunset orange and Sky blue. Complete, yet individual.
What reaction do you expect from someone who picks up the DS9 for the first time?
Christoph Schnug: This might surprise you. I hope that he or she thinks: “I know this from somewhere; I have seen this before haven’t I?” If this is the case, the product has a soul. It means that the product is accepted, similar to a person you have never seen before but think you recognise – it is a way of effortlessly creating trust. This is something we attempt to achieve in all our products, with experience, time and meticulous attention to detail.
What do you believe the DS9 has to do to be an effective communication tool?
Christoph Schnug: There should not be any gap between the brand values and the actual writing experience. This applies on all levels – visually, haptically and functionally as a ballpoint pen. This is only possible if the pen embodies the quality of the brand itself. It is with this in mind that we created it.
Have we overlooked anything?
Christoph Schnug: Yes, one more point is important to me. In addition to everything I have already said, Prodir products all have one thing in common: they are simply beautiful. And beautiful things do not cry out for attention.
Thank you for your time,
Christoph Schnug (49) is a product and graphic designer, and owner of Studio C in Milan. In addition to the CD and communication elements, he has also designed the models DS2, DS4, DS5, DS6, DS7 and DS8 for Prodir. The new DS9 also comes from his drawing board. His work in communication and product design has been recognised with numerous international awards.