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StipulaStipula has been missing from Giardino Italiano’s catalog for quite a while now. And yet, the brand has always been there, alive and kicking.

I missed the Stipulas. They are beautiful, interesting, and charming pens. They remind me of those prim-and-proper ladies: they won’t surprise you with the latest fashion, but will never look out of place.

I recently spoke with Luca Viti (a business partner and the head of the pens’ department at Stipula), and he convinced me to reconsider a partnership. With the greatest of pleasure, I replied. However, I had a few things to ask him, and now I’ll tell you how it went.

As some of you may recall, the company has had some years of great difficulty. In 2013, the business was purchased by Antiche Fabbriche Firenze. Despite great expectations of restructuring and innovation, Stipula didn’t receive the necessary resources. They endured poor supply, poor production, poor marketing, resulting in great discontent and difficulty of all involved, dealers and customers alike. Later it was sold to Idea Prima, a Florentine group very active in the merchandising sector. They finally brought the company back in vogue.

 

Susanna Buffo: Mr. Viti, can you tell us the story of Stipula’s last 4-5 years?

Luca VitiLuca Viti: Stipula was in a coma for a few months in 2013. It then gradually recovered, focusing on a selected clientele by producing mainly for exclusivists, as it has always done.
Maurizio Baschi is an experienced entrepreneur in fashion and communication from Idea Prima. Thanks to his aesthetic sensitivity and his sense of tradition, we were able to go down a new path of recovery of Stipula’s historical contents and specific know-how of Florentine craft. He did that with the utmost attention to materials and modern service concepts.

 

Susanna Buffo: I can see well-known models in your catalog: Etruria, Suprema, 22, Modello T, Passaporto, that were already here 5 years ago. What’s changed?

Luca Viti: the historical collections are considered as “timeless” milestones in the evolution of the brand. Anything new must follow the same concept. However, many of the existing models have undergone technical refinements, and have been improved.

 

Susanna Buffo: Like nibs?

Luca Viti: Yes, this is Stipula’s greatest pride. In 2014 we took over Globus, the historical nib manufacturer, which had ceased operations in the 1950s.
Now we make our nibs in house, finally freed from the overwhelming power of the cartel of foreign producers and their expensive costs. We are amongst the very few to do so. We dared to go against the old-fashioned approach that considered quality pens as a purely decorative accessory. Today, more than ever, nibs are at the heart of writing, and Stipula nibs are now extraordinarily varied and performing.
They are handmade following the techniques used by master craftsmen of the ’30s and ’40s, and with that period’s equipment. The stirrup casting of the virgin metal, the rolling, the forming of the sheet, and the application of the iridium tip: everything is calibrated and controlled freehand.

pennino

The historical titanium T-Flex nib (a one-size-fits-all calligraphy nib, developed about fifteen years ago) is now flanked by the steel V-Flex, a flexible nib with an oversized cut (the cut goes from base to tip) and flexes with the natural pressure of writing. Its grade is between fine and medium (around 0.75 mm) and reaches up to a wide Stub (about 1.3 mm).
Even the gold nibs of the Sti-Flex family (14kt and 18kt gold) have a formidable elastic response, ensuring the flexibility that is so much appreciated today. It’s due to the formulation of the gold alloy and the lamination technique – which leads to the dramatic differentiation between the tip and the base – and to their own shape, tapered towards the tip.

V-Flex acciaio T-Flex titanio Sti-Flex oro
They are offered in many sizes from Ultrafine (UF) – that makes a stroke of  0,45 mm – and Extrafine (EF) – making a 0,60-mm stroke; to Fine, Medium and Broad. Two calligraphic sizes, Stub 0.90 and Stub 1.10 mm, are also available.

lavorazione

 

Susanna Buffo: Good! I’m sure collectors will be eager to test this new family of nibs!
I also see in your catalogue new models of the Suprema. I remember it as a beautiful pen (and quite expensive), but had a history of loading problems.

Luca Viti:  Suprema has been re-modelled after the Torricelli, the same vacuum system used by the Stipula. We have eliminated the junction problems between the handle and tank, and improved so many construction details that we can say that only the aesthetics, so classic and sober, and the name, have remained the same. There are almost no glued pieces: the pen is all threads and gaskets, and can be completely disassembled. This is a great advantage for cleaning and maintenance, which can be easily handled by the user.
Suprema still has a large ink capacity and is very balanced in weight: a real gem of mechanics.

Suprema Voyeur

 

Susanna Buffo: how come it’s a lot cheaper then?

Luca Viti: We changed the approach to the beautiful, valid, valuable pen. Now it’s sold with a steel nib instead of gold, and therefore the price is halved. Anyway, our steel nibs are high performance and also beautiful to see, and moreover there is the V-Flex that, at the same price of a traditional steel nib, features a flexibility that is enviable to many gold nibs.

 

Susanna Buffo: How is Stipula preparing to come back to market?

Luca Viti: We never left the market. However, we have been focusing more on exclusive design and manufacturing than advertising.

On the tangible side, we now have a new production plant just a few minutes away from Piazza della Signoria in Florence. It features enhanced equipment and logistics to meet the speed and reliability demanded by the market.
Several new models are now in the pipeline and will be ready next year. But first of all, we must restart a dialogue with amateurs, collectors and all customers.

 

fabbrica2

 

Susanna Buffo: Could you tell us something about your new projects?

Luca Viti: We have always been fascinated by concealed loading systems: the hidden and unexpected movements that make the pen a real mechanical curiosity in miniature. We have been producing retractable pens since the 1990s (91, Etruria Ritraibile, the capless Da Vinci, and Carbon T). Now we are about to take a further step in this direction: cap-less models of a different concept than the Da Vinci, and retractable piston systems.
And then the research on materials, which leads us more and more towards unusual applications of both metals and composite materials, with a primary focus on recyclability, durability, reconditioning, and maintenance. We work a lot with carbon fibre, for example.

 

Susanna Buffo: Anything else you want to tell us?

Luca Viti: Stipula today is a young team, led by some veterans. We have a lot of fun together, and feel like we don’t belong to the past. Rather, we feel that we are the creators of that beautiful rebirth of handwriting that is underway in the world.

penninoNatale

 

To celebrate Stipula’s return to our catalog with our customers, we will be giving a complimentary steel nib with every pen purchased (you can choose between  normal nib or V-Flex). Valid until Christmas!
Happy writing!

 

Susanna Buffo
Giardino.it

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