Driving from the open country, we next entered the sprawling, ages old city of Torino. This historic city is home to Aurora Pens, one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of pens in the country. Hit with an unexpected snowstorm, entering the factory was like stepping into a fantasy. If Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory was real, and instead of fantastic sweets the factory produced pens, it would be known as Cesare Verona’s Pen Factory. And, we had our golden ticket.
The iconic factory of Aurora immediately identifies itself from the outside, curiously alive with signs of creative life inside. The front gate is adorned by a massive, ten foot, gold fountain pen nib, and pressing the buzzer summons an excited voice who operates a mechanical gate to grant access to the courtyard. In stark contrast to the white, colorless, snow covered world, the newly refinished lobby glows with energy as if a portal into the incredible world within. The walls and ceiling are painted a bright red color with red carpeting to match, and beautiful pen display cases are positioned carefully among velvet furniture, antique pen memorabilia, and pen themed art.
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Aurora, Torino, Italy – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Immediately upon entering, we were met by Cesare and his business partner Linda. Truly reminiscent of the fictional Mr. Wonka, Cesare has just as much ambition with truly incredible ideas, and Linda matches him with her energy and volumes of entertaining stories. Right away, Cesare took us on a grand tour of his most ambitious ten-year project: what will become one of the largest pen museums in the world, the Muesum of Signs and Pens that will not only benefit the area, but the entire city.
After the tour of the museum, we were granted unrestricted access to the engine of Aurora, the pen production process. This is truly special because Aurora is one of the few remaining factories in the world where every step of the pen creation process is performed in-house; from the production of each individual nib, to the trademark Auroraloid, and every step in-between. What is truly spectacular, especially for a manufacturer of this volume, is that there is no conveyor belts or automated mindless machines. Every step of the process is personally overseen by a person, and quality control like checking individuals nibs is done by hand. We even had a chance to test some of the nibs produced at Aurora ourselves, on an antique writing desk that looks like it survived the World Wars.
Just like the fantastic world of Mr. Wonka, the head engineer we met let us in on the exciting experiments that take place behind closed doors. There was bubbling ink, extreme nibs with mutant powers, futuristic transformer functions, and machines to test every pen that exits the factory to meet the exceptional Aurora standards. Unfortunately, we were sworn to secrecy for this part, but you can catch a sneak peek at a model that will be shown at Baselworld on our Instagram, where we will be for the next few days.
Stay tuned for an article after Baselworld 2016 that will explain the steps that go into making an Aurora fountain pen.