A Time for Words

The Visconti Journey: Passion, Art, Technology

Dante del Vecchio started his adventure with Visconti in 1988. Since then, he has lead the company to international renown and a top position in the industry. In 25 years, Visconti has sold over one million of pens and now operates in more than 40 countries.
Through this blog, Mr. del Vecchio wants to share the Company’s points of view and perspectives on pens, arts and culture. Let’s start this journey with a chat we had with Dante himself.
Dante Del Vecchio, Visconti's Founder and President
What led you to create Visconti?
Visconti is the result of my strong passion for pens, and I still consider myself an avid collector rather than just a producer. I decided to start producing pens in 1988 because I felt I needed something different to collect – something that wasn’t present in the market yet. You have to keep in mind that back then the pen market was much smaller than it is now. I had, in fact, only one choice: to make pens myself.
How did you manage to create the Company from scratch?
I spent most of my life traveling and learning everything related to pens. I studied the different materials, the various crafting techniques, and everything revolving around the beautiful world of pen making. I started the Company as a blank slate, a tabula rasa, as ancient Romans used to say. Some people believed in me and in my dreams and helped me a lot in building Visconti. Strong bonds were created. Mind you, the first people who walked with me through this ambitious path still work for Visconti. I may have started it all, but it’s the team that makes the difference.
Define your team. As a motorbike enthusiast, I’ll use a metaphor from that field: It’s not the pilot who wins the race (it’s not just him anyway). It’s all about teamwork and coordination between the pilot, the mechanic, and the engineers. I often design Visconti pens by myself, but it’s not uncommon for our employees to come up with ideas and suggestions which I’m always prone to listen to.
Is there something more that a pen can communicate compared to other collectible items?
First, I’ll just tell you that my love for pens and my decision to become a pen maker is something I cannot explain, since I think that love and passion are something irrational, unpredictable and beyond words. I also think that the pen as an instrument is something which sums up some of the most important human cultural and social necessities: to read and to write. The Homo Sapiens, to whom we dedicated a pen, could have never prospered without the written word (although in the ancient form of pictographs). Think about that: Written language allowed populations and communities to expand; knowledge was passed on from generation to generation, science and arts took huge steps forward thanks to it. There is also a social aspect which shouldn’t be neglected. Pens are used to sign treaties. This means that the writing instruments communicate a very strong message of unity and peace. The treaty ending the Cold War was signed with a Visconti pen. (We later made a limited edition to celebrate the event – our NATO-Russia 2002 Summit). Also, the G8 Summit’s official pen was a limited edition Divina Black.
Is there a particular type of person Visconti is designed for?
Everyone needs to express their thoughts. Writing is a universal need. Behind the scenes of Visconti pen making there’s a know-how which is heir to a centuries-long craftsmanship tradition. We do our best to continue and immortalize Firenze’s Renassaince tradition of its workshops, inventors and artists. Just like a lovingly crafted piece of art, a Visconti pen is meant to last forever and to be passed onto our sons, grandsons and so on. That’s the reason why the warranty we offer is for a life-time. You could say that Visconti speaks to anyone whose cultural needs are strong.
That said, can you give us an overview about Visconti’s connection to arts and symbolism?
This is a very important topic. The shapes of our pens themselves are often a reference to something related to the field of arts, philosophy, history and symbology. I could mention the Van Gogh pen line, inspired by the artist’s paintings. Another example is the Divina Proporzione, whose shape is based on the golden ratio, one of the most important architectural and aesthetic standards. We could talk for hours… days… about arts and symbolism in our pens. A very important part of my job was to study, and I did my best to “pour” the results into my “writing offsprings.” I still feel I always have something to learn though, and this is my main incentive.
Visconti Divina Proporzione Limited Edition Fountain Pen
Tell us something about Visconti’s innovations.
We innovated a lot, conceptually, aesthetically and technically. For example, We were the first to invest in the “limited edition” idea because we wanted to add something to the way pens were commonly seen. What was just an instrument became a piece of art, an item to collect and to lovingly hold on to as something precious and, to some extent, rare. Because of this, people who buy Visconti usually develop a particular emotional connection with the writing instrument. We jokingly call it “The Grandpa’s Pen” effect.
On the technical side, I could mention Visconti Traveling Inkpot, the tubular Smartouch Nib, the Hook Lock Safe system, the Power Filler mechanism, the Double Reservoir, etc… I could go on for hours. Whenever we felt there was a gap in the fountain pen field, we were there to fill it. And we will always be, because we love and enjoy our job.
We can’t help but be amazed at how beautiful your working space is – a 15th Century Renassaince villa. How much is this topographic context inspirational to your activity?
This place is the perfect complement to Visconti pens. It is definitely inspirational and pleasant to work here. We’ve operated in this villa from the very first day, it helped us define our purpose: to create dreams, events, and to write history. You created so many pens in 25 years.
Is there a model that represents you more than the others or that you personally prefer?
Definitely no. I love them all by heart. Should I be forced to give you an answer, I’d tell you that the Visconti I love the most is… the next one. The one I haven’t created yet.
The Blog Staff
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