Desktop Organizing: Pen, Pencil & Marker Storage

By Core77 on August 27, 2015 in Design - Other
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I’ve seen a lot of office spaces, and in many of them it’s hard to quickly find a good pen or pencil on the desk, even though the resident has many of them. In a number of cases, all the user needs is a simple pencil cup, and a spare coffee mug can serve that purpose. But some people will appreciate a more carefully designed alternative.

One step up from that pencil cup is something like the Trina pencil holder from Alessi, designed by Hani Rashid of Asymptote, which allows the end user to group various types of writing and drawing instruments together. It seems that some of the sections are shorter than others, which would accommodate pens, pencils and markers of varying heights.

Anthropologie’s Multiples pencil holder has many of the same features as the Trina, but it also has smaller sections for any writing tools the end user might want to keep separate from the rest. The smallest container could possibly hold related items, such as erasers. But to some end users it could be an annoyance, taking up unnecessary space in what would otherwise be just a pencil holder.

The acrylic pencil holder from russell+hazel looks lovely in the photos—and probably less lovely in real life unless the end user has a matching set of pencils, sharpened to perfect points. It holds 14 No. 2 pencils; some pens would also fit, but probably not the fatter pens that many end users prefer. So this is not a general-purpose pencil/pen/marker holder as many other “pencil holders” are.

Less & More makes pen and pencil holders with slots for individual items. The pen holders are designed for larger pens, including fountain pens; the diameter of each hole is 1.2 cm. The holders can also work for smaller pens if the end user wouldn’t mind seeing the pens at a tilt.  

The pencil holder has staggered holes for the two rows, making it easy to see all the pencils. I did wonder a bit about the center of gravity and the stability of this design, but I haven’t seen any purchasers complaining. 

This type of pen or pencil holder would appeal to end users who appreciate the visual cue that an item is missing when a slot is empty. 

Dudek Modern Goods also has pen holders with holes measuring .5″, but the holders can be ordered with some larger holes if need be; that’s a terrific customization feature to offer. Some of the pen holders come with a slot for a slender notebook— a smart combination that will suit some end users well.

You see a lot of pen and pencil holders, often with an animal motif, which have the writing utensils going out at all sorts of angles—as with this one from Lenny Mud. This can be a great design for children if it encourages them to put the pens and pencils away, and some adults will just like the whimsy. But such designs can also take up more desktop space than other designs do, and sometimes the pens and pencils seem less stable in the holes.

Two kinds of pen stands favored by those who sell high-end pens could also work for those using such pens in their offices. This 7-pen stand from Penn State Industries really puts the pens on display, but they’re also easy to grab and use. 

One purchaser (of the larger 12-pen stand) complained about “the base, where the holes are wide enough, but too shallow to securely hold the pens that have larger finials, especially thick, cylindrical ones” but numerous other purchasers didn’t report any such problems. Still, it’s a good reminder how important it is to get the sizing right when designing this type of product.

Pens can also be held horizontally, as with this cascading pen stand. It’s a flexible design, accommodating many pen sizes. However, since it’s 8 1/2″ deep, it’s going to take up a fair amount of desktop space, and many end users don’t have that space to spare.

The Pen Rest solves that desktop space problem; it’s a modular stackable pen holder that’s less than 2″ deep. (“Modular” and “stackable” are two of an organizer’s favorite words.) The original product was launched on Kickstarter, and there’s a new Kickstarter now (closing on August 31 at 12: 29 p.m. PDT) that offers the same design with new color options.

While most pen/pencil/marker holders are designed to work with many different writing and drawing tools, another design approach involves specialization. For example, this laser-cut marker stand is designed specifically for the Copic Ciao.