Hemiwear's everlasting mechanical pencils — Elevated product design meets solid engineering

Nicholas Hemingway would prefer us to forget the disposable culture and value our design tools instead

hemiwear range of mechanical pencils

In the hip north west London district of Camden Town, Nicholas Hemingway toils away in his sunlit studio at his late Grandfather’s 1970’s Myford ML10 lathe.

The lathe, a machine for shaping and cutting primarily wood or metal by means of a rotating drive, was not however the only thing he inherited from his Grandfather.

hemiwear grandfathers lathe

The lathe inherited from Nicholas Hemingway's Grandfather

He has a precious tin box housing old tools and pencils that have been repeatedly sharpened until they are no more than stubs. Can you recall the last time, if ever, that you saw a pencil so well used?

And therein lies the rub, and what is at the core of the brand Hemiwear and its founder Nicholas Hemingway’s belief that the disposable culture we find ourselves living in today promotes a valueless attitude to cheap material things.

We lose or throw out pencils, razors, carrier bags for example without a moments pause to consider their true value or the damage such waste does to the environment. They are mass produced, widely available, cheap to buy and so we value them less.

A pencil can last a lifetime if you look after it well and value it

hemiwear great great grandfathers drafting set

Nicholas Hemingway's Great, Great Grandfather's drafting set. A cherished possession and catalyst for the brand Hemiwear

We have forgotten to appreciate the tools we ourselves have invented, like the humble pencil. Without it so many great works would never have existed and through the making of his handcrafted mechanical pencils Hemingway wants to remind us of this.

His family connection with the great American 20th century novelists Ernest Hemingway (they are second cousins) and his own training as an architect has given him a natural appreciation for drawing and writing and the traditional tools associated with these arts.

hemiwear hand with pencils

Hemingway is his own production line. He makes and distributes the pencils himself, much like how small businesses used to operate before industrialisation.

It also helped to spark his interest in product design, the result of which can be seen in his range of mechanical pencils or propelling pencils as they are also known in the UK.

These are tools designed for professional Illustrators, Engineers, Artists, Graphic Designers or for those with an appreciation for ‘Beauty Engineered Simply’. The British architect Norman Foster is one of Hemiwear's customers.

Hemingway is his own production line, precision crafting each pencil from a range of alloys that include brass, steel and silver among others.

These are not just things of pared back beauty, they are perfectly balanced, lightweight, high performance tools that their owners will want to cherish rather than discard.