With a nostalgic flair, many of us think fondly on the sensation of writing by hand—the weight and texture of a pen, the sound of it gliding across the surface of paper. Opened in May of 2022, Montblanc Haus is more than a 38,000-square-foot immersion into the history of the leading luxury writing implement producer; it’s a monument dedicated to these sensations and the craft of writing as a whole. It’s also designed to inspire those who visit. Positioned directly in front of Montblanc‘s Hamburg headquarters and manufacturing facility, where every single one of their writing implements is perfected by hand, Montblanc Haus is a new landmark with permanent installations, temporary exhibitions and an archive worthy of international attention.
Madrid- and Berlin-based architecture firm Nieto Sobejano won an open competition to design the building and looked to the packaging of one historic Montblanc writing instrument for inspiration. By night, the mountainous silhouettes in relief on the ridged facade glow, casting even more dimension to the design. Within, the museum houses 412 writing instruments and innumerable ephemera in 167 displays, all coupled with 28 digital screens. It’s a nuanced representation of the spirit behind writing, which humans have done for more than 5,000 years.
“The original idea was to say that Montblanc is an owner of the luxury writing segment and we believe that there should be a place in the world that represents the notion of handwriting,” Montblanc Global CEO, Nicolas Baretzki, tells COOL HUNTING. From there, teams at the brand ruminated on a mission to “Inspire Writing” and committed to their home city since 1908, Hamburg. “Wherever you go in the Montblanc Haus, and whatever you do, whether you notice it or not, it is all about writing: the signage on the walls, the Studio Marianne Guély sculpture suspended in the hall, the ink-like accents on wool by Wendy Andreu behind the desk at the entrance, even the boutique and its Japanese paper-like design.”
From the writing instrument island (a wondrous and informative sculpture of floating Meisterstück fountain pens) to the 360-degree video installation (very much a writing rollercoaster) to the handwritten signature of Voltaire (dating back to the 18th century) to the central infinity-inspired archive room (which the Montblanc team accesses daily), the destination has been designed to accommodate the interests of Montblanc collectors, people curious about the brand or penmanship in general, and anyone who simply loves writing.
The archive, which is maintained by two historians, is really for employee use and collector visits, or by special appointment. “We deep dive into the archives for everything we do, we always search for inspiration from the past,” Montblanc’s Managing Director of Writing and Accessories, Alessandra Elia, tells us about her frequent visits. “Even though I know everything that’s there, when I see it again I tend to find something new. From this, we draw ideas.”
Montblanc Haus is not just an ode to the past but a beacon for the future. “People have asked if we are afraid that our entire category will be gone because of the digital world,” Elia continues. “As a matter of fact, the category of writing is succeeding even more so. Over the last few years, people who appreciate handwriting have felt a sense of rediscovery. There’s ritual and reward. There’s a true return to the world of writing, which we are seeing very much in the results of everything we are doing and through Montblanc Haus.”
Storytelling defines the Montblanc Haus experience, and stories run through the walls. These range from the myth behind the name Montblanc (which was originally called the Simplo Filler Pen Co) to the establishment of the emblem, and the creation of the typeface by Grete Gross. There’s information on the development of the iconic gold nib, as well as the limited edition Writers Edition collections and custom instruments that hail from their Artisan Atelier, which staffs artists, engineers, goldsmiths, woodworkers, gem-setters and more. There are examples of signatures and handwritten notes from iconic global figures aplenty.
Montblanc Haus also features a cafe and gift shop with exclusive boutique-only items. Perhaps the most charming inclusion, however, is the Montblanc Post, a nook where visitors can pick up one of several Montblanc writing instruments and draft a postcard to someone. Montblanc applies the postage and sends it out. This is to emulate the fact that travelers can stop at any Montblanc boutique around the world to request a postcard, pen a note and have the maison mail it.
Through events and activations, Montblanc Haus comes to life. A dedicated Writing Atelier offers creative writing and calligraphy classes for all ages. And twice a month, the maison also invites visitors to tour and see the multitude of steps involved in production and testing—including the room where two staff members write with every pen using invisible ink to gauge the way it feels on the paper and to listen to the way it sounds as it flows. Hamburg is a beautiful home city with much to do, but a visit to Montblanc Haus is motivation enough to stop by.
Images courtesy of Montblanc