23 February 2021  |  Culture

The Bic pen - an uncelebrated French design classic

On every desk in every school, university or workplace. In your coat pocket, somewhere in the car or in a kitchen drawer there is a familiar pen, made by Bic. Its one of France’s most uncelebrated design classic. Manufactured in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine, France, the world's favourite pen reached a landmark in 2006 when sales reached 1 billion.

Launched in 1950, the bic ballpoint pen is hexagonal shaped and its design mimics a standard pencil and is sold in 6 point sizes and 18 colours around the world. Its classical design has recognised by the Museum Of Modern Art in New York City who have added it to their collection. Its hexagonal shape resembles the typical wooden pencil and grants strength and three grip points giving high writing stability.

The Bic pen is now mass produced just outside Paris by Société Bic. Its founder, Marcel Bich bought the factory in Clichy in 1944. Following its launch in 1950, Bich changed his name to Bic and launched a heavy advertsing campaign culminating in winning a French Advertising Oscar for the poster (here below) designed by Raymond Savignac.

courtesy Bicworld

In 1965, the French ministry of education approved the pen for use in classrooms.

And finally, some interesting facts about the world's most popular pen.

  • A bic pen has enough ink to write 3.2 kms

  • The hole found in the middle of the pen regulates the pressure in the pen, helping reduce the risk of explosion

  • The cap has a hole to allow air to pass through should it be accidentally swallowed and lodged in someone’s throat

  • The classic hexagonal shape of the pen body was designed to make them easier to store in bulk as well as save material during manufacturing

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Hugh Atkins

Co-founder of Pure France. 20 years of visiting and photographing fabulous properties, meeting fascinating people and driving every main and back road in France.

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