It was in June 2006 when I has the opportunity to visit the Aurora pen factory located in Torino, Italy. I was excited at the opportunity. Aurora is one of the leading Italian manufactures of quality pens. Founded in Torino in 1919, just after the end of the World War I, the name Aurora, meaning "the dawn", represented the beginning of new things. Indeed, the Aurora met that expectation, never forgetting its roots and moving forward with the passion of the its history and country.
On my visit, I met with Cesare Verona, Managing Director of Aurora. His shared with me his goals included to increase market size, particularly to expand Aurora into markets outside Italy. Aurora was well known in Italy, he wanted the company to known outside the country as well. In terms of products, Aurora hopes to increase the blend of limited edition and high end pens as part of their overall line of pens.
In 1993 Cesare joined the family business bringing his experience from roles with companies in France, England and the United States. I mention his back ground as his enthusiasm for his company is very evident. Indeed Aurora has expanded and their products are sold in over 50 countries.
Other members of the leadership team I met included Arianna Carta, Area Manager who talked about her eagerness to broaden the distribution of their line of pens, leather accessories and paper products. She is committed to increasing market share by building relationships with distributors to make the Aurora products available in more markets.
It is interesting to reflect back on my visist in 2006 and to see the market expansion that has taken place.
Sofia Castoldi, Marketing Representative, was most gracious in walking with me throughout the factory and explaining the details of the various stages of design, testing and production. I think she succinctly summed up what it means to work at Aurora. Having the joined the company after working in other industries, she explained the difference about Aurora. "Here, it is about making objects of art and beauty, based on good design and instilled with the passion of Italy."
In 1919, Aurora was located in the central area of the city of Torino. The original office was destroyed during World War II. In 1954 Aurora moved to a factory located outside of the central area of Torino. In 1970 they expanded the size of the new site to meet the growing production needs of their increasing business.
The tour commenced in the design department. This is where it starts — a good two years before production of a new line of pens commences. Designers monitor products of major pen companies, conduct research and are inspired by the history of Italy to arrive at concepts for new lines of pens. To create their innovative lines of pens Aurora uses both in house and external designers. Pens are designed with taste and using technical innovation. For example, the Leonardo da Vinci limited edition pen has a clip that is designed to mirror the mechanics of a bird's wings.
I was able to see some of the initial concept sketches and then comprehensive drawings that were completed outlining the detailed specifications of each part of a pen. All this work takes place well before the work of programming the equipment to run the necessary production steps. It is only after all this work that the production of the takes place.
Aurora makes all the parts for their pens, and in viewing the various production stages, the large number of individual parts that make up each pen is becomes apparent. Each part is manufactured, shaped and finished using machines and a considerable amount of hand work. Aurora manufactures its own nibs, both steel and gold. Their inks are produced by an independent company. The ink products undergo extensive testing at the factory to ensure they meet Aurora’s high standards.
The high standards are evident by the continual quality inspections carried out by employees. With years of service and attained skills the detailed work required on individual pen parts are all completed and checked. For example, I met employees who were testing individual pen parts such as the clips to determine the number of times a clip can be expanded and closed before wear becomes a factor.
In another area of the factory, pens were being tested to determine the pressure to which the pen can withstand before ink would be expelled from the pen in air travel. Very detailed and precise testing.
Machines rolled out what seemed to be endless paper to test the quality of continuous writing with of the inks to ensure a smooth and consistent line.
The factory has all the current equipment involved in the various production steps. Equipment can be programmed to accommodate the individual characteristics of various pen parts. Pen parts are buffed and checked for appropriate fit and finishing.
In the show room I was able to view the many different lines of Aurora pens. Some of which I had previously seen in the various stages of production.
There is indeed a pen to match the full range of users. From relatively inexpensive pens used by students to high-end lines such as the Eighty-Eight or the Optima. And also, an increasing line of limited edition pens. The Asia and Afrika lines are stunning. The line called, Pope, is a real eye-catcher.
The Eighty-Eight, was designed in 1947 and truly represents the classic fountain pen. It is still in production today with more than a million pieces having been produced.
The HASTIL pen, holds a special place in the hearts of those at Aurora as its was the first writing instrument to be displayed at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Aurora has a line of writing products as as note books, note pads, boxed stationary and address books. A joint venture between Aurora and the most prestigious paper-mills results in a line of paper products. In addition to pens and paper products, Aurora has an extensive line of leather goods. Some of the items that caught my eye include the pen pouch -- one model holds up to six pens, other models would hold three, two or a single pen.
I must admit I had a hard time taking my eye of the large sottomano, the desk pad, that was on the large wooden desk in the office where we held our meeting. Optima Pen.
At the end of the tour I had the opportunity test out the Optima pen with the various nib styles available. Now. here is a pen for me – a large pen with a flexible large gold nib.
Sofia brought out the pens in a large special presentation box. The box hold fifteen pens. Each with one of the 15 nib styles available.
I was impressed to see this very box in some of the pens stores I visited later on my travels in Italy. Aurora manufactures pen nibs in sizes from extra fine to broad, oblique right nibs and oblique nibs cut and designed for left-hand writers.
I was impressed with the quality of the Optima nib, and I was able to write quite comfortable with all the various nib styles. For a writer that typically uses broad nibs, this says a lot about the smoothness of the full line of nib styles.
As I placed the last of the Optima pens down on the desk pad, ad reflected back on my visit, I can say that I did feel the passion of Italy.
That tour was many years ago, and I certain enjoyed the perspective it provided on the design an making of an Aurora pen. Since that time I have added a couple Aurora Talentum Pens, they are profiled in my Pens of Note.
Aurora - La Passione Italiana, Tratto Distintivo, Aurora Factory in Torino, Italy
View of the manufacturing section of the Aurora factory.
Plenty of handwork to creat an Aurora pen.
The showroom at the Aurora headquarters displays all the current lines.