It’s pretty common for teachers to task their design students with rethinking a ubiquitous object, so designers Luka Or and Keren Tomer weren’t exactly going rogue when they asked their third-year industrial design class at Israel’s Holon Institute of Technology to redesign the humble pencil. But what their students came up with transcends the usual half-hearted redesigns, spanning pencils that are applied like paint brushes, pencils shapes like paleolithic tools, and more.
After encouraging their students to rethink the pencil from the ground up, Or and Tomer’s class presented 18 reinterpreted pencils, each with a new function, shape, or meaning. “We were looking for a short project to be able to give a good beginning to the subject of ‘gift products,'” Or says. “The pencil was the best candidate: it’s a very classic object with a big historical and cultural value but every student has an intimate knowledge of the object and affection toward it.”
The reconceptualized pencils mostly group together in two categories: the functional and the whimsical. Seven really stand out.
On the functional end of the spectrum, student Ofra Oberman made a series of brush pencils, which allow for a flowing, painterly sketching experience. There’s also the Roller Pencil by Noy Meiri, a pencil designed for people working in fashion; it has a toothed wheel at one end that lets you mark fabric. Gal Yacobi’s contribution merges a pencil together with a wax seal, allowing you to write and seal your letters with the same device. Student Yael Hasid’s +- Pencils, meanwhile, reinterpret the writing and erasing ends of the pencil into separate units: a pencil with two ends that write, and a pencil with two ends that erase.
On the whimsical end, the standout is Evgeny Barkov’s colorful pencils that resemble prehistoric tools: they look like they were plucked from the floor of the Chauvet Cave in southern France. There’s also Yam Amir’s Tube-Pencil, a pencil that you “sharpen” by squeezing the end like a tube of toothpaste. Weirdest of all is Eitan Bercovish’s Fairy Pencil: a pencil designed for children writing to the Tooth Fairy (is that a thing?) that looks like a tooth snapped off at the gum line.
I want all of these in my pencil case. If only H.I.T. had them for sale in their gift shop. Hint.