Fall in Love With Writing Again. Ferris Wheel Press: A Brand Focus.
For those of you who subscribe to our monthly newsletter (if you don't already, sign up today to receive news, updates and our exclusive discount codes) the name Ferris Wheel Press will be a familiar one. Ferris Wheel Press arrived at The Hamilton Pen Company in October of 2019, just over a year after their first Kickstarter campaign saw their target funds reached in just 8 hours!
Ferris Wheel Press is a Canadian stationery company bringing whimsy and delight to a global market! After exploding on to the scene in 2018 following the first (of 3) incredibly successful Kickstarter campaigns, Ferris Wheel Press is a brand which has embraced a fusion of tradition alongside extremely effective contemporary marketing to create a brand which appeals to the pen aficionado and aesthetically driven novice alike.
Ferris Wheel Press claim to be ‘Makers of Iconic Stationery’ and promise to make you ‘fall in love with writing again’, bold statements for a relatively juvenile brand who are stepping out into a world of stationery giants with decades and even centuries of history and establishment. It would be foolish to suggest that great products only come from long established companies (take last months’ article about the The Høvel Pencil Plane for example!) but what is interesting about Ferris Wheel Press is that the ‘usual’ forums, feedback and write-ups from the esteemed authorities around writing instruments and stationery would appear to be in agreement that for the most-part, Ferris Wheel Press is one of these rare brands which lives up to the hype.
It goes without saying that, as with all things, Ferris Wheel Press is not to everyone’s taste but there appears to be an almost universal appreciation for the way the brand blends creative brand design with solid product development as well as merging a fun, playful charm with a sleek sophistication.
Ferris Wheel Press products are just as likely to be found in the boardroom as they are in a back-bedroom crafting space. What is it about Ferris Wheel Press that has charmed a global audience and piqued the interest of stationery and writing instrument enthusiasts the world over? Gather one and all, and step into the magical carnivalesque world of Ferris Wheel Press...
Roll-up, Roll-up...The Carnival is
Coming to Town: Ferris Wheel Press Origins.
The story of Ferris Wheel Press begins, somewhat, in 2010 with the launch of Palettera Custom Correspondences. Palettera was (and to an extent remains) a luxury graphic design and production firm specialising in custom event stationery, branding and design, bespoke stationery and branding concepts.
Image: Palettera Blog
These origins, when known, bring clarity to the exceptional design and brand identity of Ferris Wheel Press. Furthermore, the work practices of Palettera shed light on some of the beautiful design elements which are witnessed across the Ferris Wheel Press products. Palettera created much of their stationery using traditional letterpress techniques, hand illustrated artwork and in-house artisan craftsmanship. Beyond the luxury these techniques brought to the brand, they also represented a celebration of culture for the Chinese-Canadian Co-founder Deborah Lau-Yu. The core of the brand according to Lau-Yu is to ‘increase meaningful consumption by designing luxury goods with awareness, purpose, and passion’. In 2012, Lau-yu’s co-founder and partner Raymond became president of the company, taking charge of business aspects and development allowing Lau-yu to focus on her role as Principal and Art Director. Her background in design and graphic arts within the fashion and magazine industries as well as her commitment to the promotion of emerging talents in design created a foundation for the growth and development of Ferris Wheel Press’s strong brand identity and ethos.
Palettera created a second brand alongside its existing design and production firm which would serve to build the portfolio of Palettera as well as provide philanthropic services to the region and particularly the Chinese-Canadian community. Described as a cultural platform, Fête Chinoise is active across many channels including their website, annual magazine, showcasing events and brand collaborations. The key aim of Fête Chinoise is to ‘empower individuals to deepen the connection between identity and Chinese culture. Through a curated lens and critical thinking, [they] present meaningful stories, artful experiences, and inspiring products’. Fête Chinoise events also provided a space to connect with the leading talents in design, product development and artistry who would influence and guide the birth of Ferris Wheel Press.
Photo from Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs: Christine Lo of Ming Pao Daily News presents the Best Community Service Award to Deborah Lau-Yu and Raymond Yu
Ferris Wheel Press became the third leg in the Palettera tripod as its own distinct brand bringing Lau-Yu’s love of printing and stationery to new levels which could not be achieved in the same way with the custom correspondence products being offered by Palettera.
So, although Ferris Wheel Press was formally founded in 2017, its origins are firmly placed in the development of Palettera from 2010 through to the expansion out into the celebration of luxury, beautiful design and inspired products that came with Fête Chinoise and its many curated channels.
Ferris Wheel Press: Brush Fountain Pen
Having created beautiful bespoke invitations and custom paper stock under Palettera for the 7 years previous to Ferris Wheel Press’s formation, it seemed only logical that the first major project developed by Ferris Wheel Press would be quality fountain pens.
The brush fountain pen drew inspiration from an artist's paintbrush for its familiar silhouette with the added benefit of its shape allowing for exceptional in-hand balance and comfort over long periods of use. Each Ferris Wheel Press Brush Fountain Pen is handmade from copper, brass, and stainless steel for a well balanced yet substantial writing experience. Each intricate detail of the grip is engraved to enhance the tactility and feedback of a design that is bold as brass. As with all things Ferris Wheel Press, the delight is in the detail! On the whole, reviews and experience would suggest that the pen itself is a solid pen which suits most users with its well considered shape and quality construction.
The brush pen writes well with its medium nib (fine also available) which has a buttery writing feel over a scratchier hard one. Some users may find the pen feels small in hand (this is by design) although it would be described as ‘full sized’ unposted...the slightness in hand comes from the pens slender design rather than length which those whose ‘go-to’ fountain pens are oversized or even large may find to be an adjustment.
The brush fountain pen is a smidge over 14cm in length when capped and weighs a pleasant 23g, a touch heftier than the Lamy Safari and TWSBI Eco. In fact, the brush pen feels quite similar to the Kaweco AL Sport which twins the Brush pens weight at 23g but is a stouter unit at 10.5cm when capped.
It is advised that the Ferris Wheel Press Brush Fountain Pen is never posted purely to prevent damage to the highly polished barrel of the pen which is all but guaranteed with the brass nut center band. Speaking of the brass nut, this is a charming feature which adds an industrial element to the sleek lines of the pen itself. This industrial yet quirky feature is not the only one of its kind, in fact some may say there is a mature ‘steampunk’ feel which is subtly projected across all Ferris Wheel Press products.
Drawing parallels to the ferrule, traditionally a metal section that holds the bristles of a brush, the grip section of the Brush fountain pen plays the important role of securing the nib. The spirited etchings on the grip are inspired by the mechanical components of vintage printmaking studio equipment including the flywheel of a 1912 Pearl letterpress and a fully functional Underwood typewriter – the 'original' modern method of typesetting. The fanning geometric lines are analogous to the type hammers of a typewriter, each carrying its own miniature metal type block, waiting to be activated. Similar to the way in which the carriages of a ferris wheel support its riders, the cylindrical carriage of a typewriter transports its paper in a horizontal and circular fashion.
The initial success of the Ferris Wheel Press Brush Fountain Pen was such that the company sought to expand into bottled inks (and other items) but they refused to release just ‘any’ bottled ink. With grand ambitions for excellent inks which would be as beautifully presented as they were carefully crafted, Ferris Wheel Press launched their first Kickstarter Campaign on October 12th 2018 which would see their target funds met in just 8 hours!
Ferris Wheel Press Inks: A Masterclass in Kickstarter
Ferris Wheel Press ‘voiced’ their Kickstarter campaign with the sense of the brand directly communicating with the reader as an individual, they sold their concept as more than a product but a lifestyle and ‘way of being’ which related closely to the ethos developed by Lau-Yu and the team from the Palettera with deep connection being attached to objects and their use rather than a detached consumption of products.
‘Because you are reading this, you are likely one of few in the world who understands the joy and connection that happens when pen meets paper. You know that the connection goes beyond what is physical, and extends to your inner thoughts, fears, dreams, and beyond. We are on the same page, which is why Ferris Wheel Press has one simple mission: to help everyone Fall in Love with Writing Again. We are so glad you've chosen to be a part of our mission! Following the successful introduction of our Brush Fountain Pen, we are now launching a collection of premium fountain pen inks that are the perfect desktop companion to any aspiring stationery lover.’
Ferris Wheel Press Kickstarter Campaign 2018
Even after the target was reached, backers continued to show their support for the company and the campaign gained a lot of attention. This may be partly due to their cohesive and well developed ‘brand’ by which i mean the complete experience from website copy to packaging and product design, through to the names of products, bundling options and communications (especially social media communications).
The entire experience is one of whimsy and delight. But behind the pizazz and magic lies well designed and beautifully crafted products which would be well received even without the awe and wonder of the ‘brand’.
The first release of bottled inks was for three distinct colours; Tanzanite Sky, Bluegrass Velvet and Candy Marsala each of which were presented in unusual (hot air) balloon shaped bottles with the same brass nut style lid as the brush pen, as well as being a voluminous 85ml.
All packaging is designed and created in-house by Ferris Wheel Press which adds to the charm but also corresponds with their ‘purposeful’ packaging ideal whereby all packaging is recyclable as well as being reusable in a desirable way. Even the insides of their packaging are highly aesthetically pleasing and this certainly helps with the promotion of the brand due to its ‘instagrammable’ image and social media worthiness.
Mid 2019, Ferris Wheel Press expanded their product line to include a range of notebooks, folios and notecards which featured the now recognisable styling of the Ferris Wheel Press artistic flair which is created in house by a team of artists and graphic designers.
Ferris Wheel Press have designed a lovely folio cover for their 'The Always Right' and 'nothing left' notebook. It has been crafted from Fether™, Ferris Wheel's top grade cruelty free vegan leather. Fether™ was developed by Ferris Wheel Press to out-perform top grade animal leather and is highly resistant to tear, abrasion, water, discolouration and ageing whilst also being softer than traditional leathers.
They also introduced the delightful old unionville notepad. This handmade notepad collection uses bold colours finished with gold foil debossing. Each notepad contains 55 sheets of premium Classic Crest Solar White 104g/m2, 5.1pt, dot-grid paper. Classic Crest is FSC® and Green Seal™ certified and created without using chlorine. This luxurious paper stock ensures a superb writing experience across a range of inks and writing instruments.
They even have a massive 240 page, high quality sketchbook of 160gsm ph neutral blank paper encapsulated in a stunning hardback featuring the delightful illustrations of the in-house art team.
Even their ink converters are embossed with the ‘rat tat tat’ signifying the sounds of the print shop which inspired much of the design of the Ferris Wheel Press...this sound is actually echoed in the satisfying sound the brass nut makes on the brush pen which being screwed on and off which also makes it a wonderful fidget item.
2020 saw the inks take on new form with refined formulas, an extensive range of colour options and a new bottle design which resembles a flask or perfume bottle.
The new flattened design holds less volume which was in response to feedback that some customers would prefer the option of smaller ink bottle sizes (38ml) so they could experience more of the range of colours without committing to larger sizes (85ml) (the Ink charger sets (5ml) which were released in 2019 also perform this function as well as being more suited to travel).
The shape of the new 38ml bottle also means that bottles can be stacked to create an architectural feature or even totem pole of inks on one's desk.
The earlier formulas of Ferris Wheel Press Inks were somewhat mixed with praise for pigmentation but varying satisfaction for the flow of ink and its behaviour. The newer formula addresses these concerns with a rich pigmented ink which has minimal bleeding and feathering and quick dry characteristics. Ferris Wheel Press Inks are making a name for themselves and not just for the packaging design! Though we should add that they were winners of the RGD Award for their packaging design in Spring 2020!
Oh Canada: Ferris Wheel Press
Ferris Wheel Press is a brand which takes care of the details and provides exceptional products in an exceptional way. They epitomise the concept of taking pride in one’s work and this shows, not just in the literal presentation of their products but also in the continual development of their products and their dedication to ethical business practices, their penchant for hiring emerging talents (particularly from local design schools) and dedicating time to training and developing their skills.
On top of this Ferris Wheel Press has an authenticity around the way they engage with social media which appears to extend beyond sales generation. Since stocking Ferris Wheel Press in 2019 we at The Hamilton Pen Company have been endlessly impressed with the quality of the products on offer as well as the popularity of the brand with our customers. Explore the full selection of Ferris Wheel Press Pens, Stationery and Accessories at The Hamilton Pen Company.