First a quick recap of how the bottle works from a practical standpoint. It rests upright inside it box, but when the bottle is removed from its box, you see that the bottle has an angled base. So when you’ve used up some of the ink, and the ink level goes down, you can pull the bottle out of the box. Let the bottle rest on angle, and you expose more of the ink surface area to the nib.
The bottle has a wide mouth to make filling very easy for pens with large nibs. The bottle is heavy and the cap is heavy, too. Everything — box, bottle and cap — is shaped like a hexagon.
But it wasn’t until I was taking a few photos for a blog post this week that I noted that the hexagon can also be found in the cap of the older Colors of the Earth series bottles by Caran d’Ache.
The Colors of the Earth series ink bottles were only 30 ml. They were attractive, but small. Unlike the Chromatics bottle, the Colors of the Earth bottle was not user friendly. Especially if you were trying to fill a piston filling fountain pen. Especially one with a large nib.
A hexagonal cap shape seemed a little incongruent with the rest of the Colors of the Earth bottle design. The lovely bottle is a cube with a parabola curving inside. Why use a hexagon for the bottle cap? And then bring that to the Chromatics bottle?
Then it hit me. Caran d’Ache started with pencils, colored pencils and water color pencils. That’s where the company history, image and reputation still rests. The hexagon is the shape of Caran d’Ache pencils.
Caran d’Ache even uses the hexagonal shape for ballpoints — which, note to self, or Santa, I’ve always liked. The hexagon is in Caran d’Ache’s design DNA.
Which must be why Caran d’Ache made the hexagon the overriding design element of the Chromatics ink bottles. When you look at the bottles resting on their angled bases, they even look like pencils poised over a sheet of paper.
And now I’ve figured out the hexagon, I like it even more.