I've had my eye on the ystudio brand for quite some time now, but have never pulled the trigger on one for some reason. When I saw Brad Dowdy from The Pen Addict had acquired one I asked if he would mind sending it my way on loan and he was kind enough to oblige.
Why haven't I pulled the trigger on one yet? It would seem like such a no brainer for me. Hexagonal barrels, super minimalist, unique... pushes all of the buttons.
All of the pens are made from brass which is ok, but brass can be weighty (downright uncomfortable in some cases) and eventually can patina and create a "smell" from all of the oil in your hands over time.
Another reason I've potentially hesitated is due to their availability, or, seemingly lack there of. This isn't a jab, but ystudio would be what I consider a more boutique brand and the online retailers we frequent like Pen Chalet, Jetpens, Goulet Pens, Pen Boutique, Appelboom, or Cult Pens don't carry the brand at all.
I'm usually always willing to take a chance on a pen I find interesting (for science, of course), but not knowing how it will actually feel (weight) coupled with a slight difficulty in purchasing one from companies I know and trust has definitely created some hesitation.
ystudio is a Taiwanese company that runs a small studio and has their pens made locally. The products they create are eye-catching and downright beautiful in my opinion. Each time I see them I'm always intrigued.
My loaner, the brass retractable ballpoint, came in its original packaging which is an elegant black card stock box with "brass" foil lettering. Not over the top fancy, but nice. Inside is a small pamphlet talking about the pen, a foam insert for the pen to nestle into, as well as a sheet of sandpaper (yes, sandpaper).
This version is referred to as the "brassing" edition, meaning, it is an all brass pen but coated in a black paint/finish which will eventually wear through over time. Or, with a little help...
That's right, they provide you with sandpaper to use on creating a worn down, wabi sabi look of your own. Brad got started on the pen around the grip section, but I opted to leave it as is and not sand it further.
First hesitancy: the weight. Not a problem actually. The pen is a comfortable 1.2 ounces and actually feels amazing in the hand.
The ballpoint version of the ystudio pens take a standard Parker style refill, so ease of finding something that suites isn't too difficult.
The pen is designed as either a pocket, desk, or sleeve type of carry as it doesn't come with a clip. Oddly enough, I've been leaning more towards clipless pens as of late, so this doesn't bother me, but if you're strictly a front shirt pocket or clip to the pants type of carrier, this one may be a problem.
What is obviously the most striking and interesting feature of the ballpoint pen is the knock mechanism. An exposed brass cylinder attached to another hexagonal piece, upheld by a visible spring. Describing it in words is tough, but thank goodness for pictures.
I love this feature of it from a design perspective. It adds a very industrial and mechanical feel to something elegant and minimal which is a unique blend.
Execution of the knock mechanism is a bit on the tricky side as it is very different from ballpoint "clicky" pens you've used before. Rather than simply a click-on, click off process, this pen requires a slight push in and then the knock screws down into the barrel from the inside to extend and lock in the tip. Very interesting.
From a purely functional standpoint, this isn't the best feature of the pen as it requires (unless you're super tricky) a two-handed process. For capped pens this is a given, but for a retractable pen it is more of a rarity.
Personally, I wouldn't let this get in the way of enjoying the pen. The experience of the ystudio look and feel is what we're going for and it is probably worth the extra twist with both hands. Just me.
I've really, really enjoyed carrying this pen and I will certainly be picking up something from their lineup very soon.
The Brassing ballpoint retails at $85 so isn't cheap, but the build quality and design is wonderful in my opinion.
If you are interested in purchasing something from their lineup, there is an online retailer called Kohezi that has a pretty broad selection.