Following the “Design. Made in Germany“ principle, with a high depth of production and based on the Bauhaus style, the high-quality writing instruments of Lamy are renowned worldwide. One of the principles of success of the German family business: the symbiosis between traditional craftsmanship and modern technology.
What impresses a German first-year pupil and a Spanish design student just as much as a Korean business man and a Chinese calligraphy fan? The product world of the writing instrument brand Lamy. Because the items are not merely perceived as practical items of use, but instead as durable and loyal everyday companions. The fact that Lamy products are held in high esteem worldwide by people of all ages, is above all due to a stringent brand philosophy, their consistent high quality and high functionality. In addition to this, one thing predominantly unites the approx. 200 Lamy models: their timeless Bauhaus style design. Aesthetic principles and artistic expression are subordinate to the overriding design philosophy of the efficiency and usefulness of the product and this ultimately result in functional forms, clear lines and cool elegance.
Form follows function
The idea to pick up on the design language of the Bauhaus as a stylistic feature stems from Dr. Manfred Lamy. The son of the company founder, Carl Josef Lamy, who established the company in 1930, joined the family business in 1962 as its Marketing Director. Four years later the graduate economist commissioned the German designer, Gerd A. Müller, to develop a fountain pen following the Bauhaus design. The result – the Lamy 2000 – marked the birth of the brand. Today, the elegant office accessory is also available as a ballpoint pen, a rollerball pen and a mechanical pencil in different executions and materials – from fibreglass-reinforced polycarbonate and matt stainless steel with a lengthwise grain, to exclusive hand-polished 14-carat gold nibs, through to spring-mounted clips and palladium-finished hardware.
Since 1966, Lamy has been developing an increasingly more international design network. Bernhard M. Rösner, who has been continuing the lifework of Carl Josef and Manfred Lamy since the end of 2006 in his capacity as the sole Executive Director, is also carrying on this tradition. “The collaboration with well-known artists, including Richard Sapper, Wolfgang Fabian, Naoto Fukasawa or Knud Holscher, has been an important core element of our brand identity up until this very day,” explained Frank Dangmann, Director Sales Promotional Products. A principle that is rewarded every year with numerous prizes. Myriam Bohr, Marketing Services/Media: “All of the Lamy writing instruments have been distinguished with at least one award, i.e. the Red Dot Design Award, the iF Design Award or the Good Design Award, which we have actually won for the eighth time in succession.“ Following the principle of offering the best product quality at affordable prices, Lamy pursues a further Bauhaus principle. “It is possible for promoting companies to enter the Lamy brand world for two Euros upwards,” emphasised Dangmann. In this way, not only big groups or design-oriented companies benefit from the image transfer that a brand such as Lamy guarantees, but also smaller companies with a narrow marketing Budget.
Lamy generates around 25% of its turnover on the promotional products market. In 2014, the overall turnover totalled 72 mil. Euros, in 2015 a significant increase is expected. The fact that the traditional company, which is represented in over 65 countries, is currently constantly increasing its sales, is among others things due to the fact that it is tapping into new markets. Over 130 Lamy boutiques worldwide are operated according to uniform guidelines. The international presence is to be further expanded in the promotional products sector via further sales cooperations in the future, and the company is currently looking for new partners.
“Made in Germany“ quality
At the German headquarters in Heidelberg, from where all of the key production steps are controlled, Lamy currently has a headcount of over 320 employees. 95% of all of the parts from the housings, springs and refills, through to the cartridges are produced on-site. The raw materials, packaging and small parts purchased are mostly manufactured in Germany or Europe. Dangmann: “The German production of our Lamy products guarantees top quality, innovative technology, high-quality materials, durability andproduct safety – attributes, which allow promoting companies to express their high appreciation for their employees and customers.“ The injection moulds are also developed and produced in Heidelberg. Lamy has invested around 3.5 mil. Euros in tool-making over the past years. They have also introduced measures to make the work easier: For example, a special wooden floor absorbs vibrations and running tracks on the ceiling enable the fast and energysaving transport of heavy work material. The production of the refills for the ballpoint pens, which involves up to 24 working steps, is also high-tech – from the insertion of the tungsten carbide balls into the tip of the refill, through to the spin cycles in the centrifuge, which pushes out any trapped air. The traditional company exclusively implements metal ballpoint refills. “Metal sleeves are extremely stable, but at the same time have very thin walls, which enables the capacity to be maximised and fluid leakages to be avoided,” is how Dangmann explained the advantages. Before it leaves the factory, each ballpoint refill is tested. Manual work is called for in the case of extremely high-quality series, complicated constructions and low order volumes. For example, the stainless steel satin finish is often the result of manual work rather than them being sandblasted. One is constantly on the lookout for options that optimise the workplace ergonomics and procedures. Here, Lamy falls back on the know-how of its long-serving employees, who develop measures in regular workshops in order to improve activities, products and processes. Successful implementations are rewarded with premiums. Furthermore, depending on how long they have been working for the company, the employees benefit from profit-sharing schemes.
In addition to showing their appreciation for the employees, a resource-saving approach to nature is a key issue of Lamy’s philosophy: In the injection moulding department the surplus material is recycled separately, such as the plastic sprue and the hydraulic oil used is filtered, reprocessed and fed back into the production cycle. “A responsible attitude towards mankind and the environment is also paramount in the refill and cartridge production process. It would, of course, be considerably cheaper to buy inks from the Far East for example, but they are often contaminated with solvents, heavy metals and diverse fillers,” reported Dangmann. A solar plant, roof gardens and the use of surface water round off the package of ecological measures. Bohr added: “Furthermore, all of our products are geared up for durability and can be repaired by us should they break. We change the nibs of the fountain pens in the higher-price segment free of charge.“
The writing instruments are also customised at the headquarters: Corporate logos can be realised per laser engraving, one and multi-coloured pad prints or emblems. Dangmann: “At the moment laser engravings are very trendy, including the engraving of individual names. For example, we put together personalised sets including elegant notebooks and individual cover letters for the anniversaries of employees, annual meetings or as Christmas gifts. High-quality packaging made of metal and pen cases made of leather are also implemented for special celebrations.“ And indeed, Lamy certainly has reason to celebrate next year: In 2016, the company looks back on “50 years of Lamy design“. With editions created especially to commemorate the anniversary, the brand-name company will then once again no doubt make a world-wide impression – whether in Germany, Spain, Korea or China.
photo source: C. Josef Lamy GmbH