Project Pen by Schon Design

Here at the Brown Safe Research Labs we’re always on the lookout for quality products to enhance our everyday carry arsenal. Apparently we’re not alone either, we’ve noticed a large, cult following for custom pens that are designed with durability, simplicity, and utility in mind. One of the first we came across was the Bolt, by Karas Kustoms which we reviewed a few weeks back. Then, we met Ian Schon of Schon Design, who had single-handedly crafted a pen that he believes returns the pen to its former glory as a tool you’ll want to carry every day.

When we received our Schon pen, we were astounded, yet again, at how amazingly beautiful such a simple everyday tool could be. We loved the fact that this pen could become small and unnoticeable when its cap was on, but full-length when the cap was put on the back. This allows you the comfort of being able to carry the Schon pen in any circumstance, while not sacrificing the full-body design we know and love.


The Schon pen is an engineering marvel. Once disassembled, you can see how both simplicity and strength were Ian’s main focuses when designing this pen. While the Schon pen doesn’t accept as many cartridges as other custom pens (such as the Bolt), Ian designed the pen around the Fisher Space Pen cartridge, a popular, reliable cartridge that you can find at your local Staples.

We decided to ask Ian a few questions about his vision and process, and we got some really interesting responses:

1. Why does the vast pen world need the Schon pen? What does it symbolize in your mind when compared to huge manufacturers and other pen makers?

Every component of this pen is made entirely in Massachusetts within 100 miles from my shop. I can confirm that the shops that work on these parts are ethically sound and treat their workers fairly. Doing big projects like the pen helps keep shops like these alive and help save jobs within my community. For me this projects is about doing something I love the right way, and showing people that keeping projects local can be possible without outsourcing overseas.

As far as the pen, I designed it to be compact, leak proof, dependable and easy to carry. I always enjoyed having a pen with me at all times, but couldn’t find one I liked, so I went and made my own. The pens two part construction gives it a very precise and tactile feel when assembling, similar to threading a silencer on a pistol. This action often draws attention to the user and that they have a unique pen like no one has seen before.

2. How does one begin to craft a custom pen? What goes into the process?

The first pen was based on a few different criteria. I really wanted it to be compact, elegant yet simple and dependable. With these qualifications in mind, I designed this pen to the best of my ability and fabricated the originals myself in my garage. As an engineer this was a test of designing to a process that I knew I could deliver on in the end. Keep in mind, all the fabrication of these original pens was done on a 1920’s clausing lathe with no automation. Many pens were fabricated and tested by friends and members of the EDC community. With their feedback I iterated through even more designs and settled on the design we have today. A pen that is dependable, aesthetic, unobtrusive in your pocket and a pleasure to use daily.

3. Do you plan to design other pens in the future, or perhaps revise your current one?

I have some new pens in the works. A clip design, a knurled design and a few in stainless and titanium. Stay tuned for more of these pens in the future.

As expected, writing with the Schon pen is actually exciting. Knowing that you have such an extraordinary tool in your hand both makes you prideful and humble at the same time. The writing is smooth, the grip is just right, and this custom pen makes a definite style statement.

And another great addition to the story of the Schon pen is the fact that it’s crafted and assembled here in the United States. Support Ian’s vision for lasting, unique tools by purchasing this custom pen from his site, located here.

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