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Huh?! Montblanc Taps Generative Artists To Push $15,000 Pens

Montblanc finally embraces digital media by featuring the artwork of some of digital media’s biggest art stars.

It’s hard getting people excited about pens. It’s even harder getting them excited about pens that cost more than $15,000. But that’s exactly what Scholz & Volkmer, a Berlin- and Wiesbaden-based interactive media agency, has tried to do by tapping cool-kid generative-art pioneers to sex up the image of the hoary German luxury brand Montblanc.

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Scholz & Volkmer invited digital artists Marius Watz, Anthony Mattox, Onformative, and others to create digital paintings for Montblanc’s “first-ever” online boutique (first-ever, geez is it still 2005 over there?). Montblanc is best known for pushing swish writing instruments, but the 103-year-old company also sells watches, jewelry, and sunglasses, among other luxury goods.

Scholz & Volkmer asked each artist to build an algorithm that visualizes “the DNA” of a single product category. Berlin-based Onformative, for instance, developed a sumptuous theme that pairs a light, mandala-like graphic pattern with drops of liquid metal for the watch category. Each algorithm then generated individual works of art for individual products. The Onformative painting that accompanies a men’s chronograph with a rich brown strap features bronze liquid metal. The painting that accompanies an 18-karat gold ladies watch features gold liquid metal and more feminine graphic patterns.

The concept is a tad difficult to follow. And we doubt that the people who shop at Montblanc know who Marius Watz and Onformative are–or even what “generative art” is. Which makes it something of a tricky marketing proposal. But the fact is that you don’t need to know a lick about algorithms to notice that the artwork makes Montblanc’s accessories look better than any hand model ever could.

It’s also worth noting that in the past, Montblanc has staunchly opposed selling their wares over the Internet. “A computer cannot help you select a proper nib or teach you how to fill a fountain pen,” Karsten Martens, president and CEO of Montblanc North America, was quoted as saying in 2000. “Our products are as unique as our customers and many individual considerations must be taken into account when selecting the ideal Montblanc. The only way a customer can obtain this type of service is if they are dealing with a knowledgeable sales professional–point and click just won’t cut it.” That was back when an international brand could presumably survive without the Internet. Now, well… yeah right. Glad to see Montblanc is finally embracing digital media (if a few years late) by promoting the precise people who show why it’s worth embracing.

[Images courtesy of Scholz & Volkmer; H/T to the immortal Creative Applications]

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About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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