What is the Best Pen for Architects and Designers?

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Stay up to date on the latest in BIM, Revit, and Architecture.

What is the Best Pen for Architects and Designers?

Byron Gehrig


From the Editors: We recently asked a group of architects, designers, and other AEC professionals to share their personal insights into the designer’s weapon of choice: their favorite pens. Here are the thoughts of our first contributor.

The Search for the Designer’s Perfect Pen

When it comes to design, many processes or tools are standard throughout the industry. We’ve got a bunch of Type A people out there who want (okay, need) it that way, and that’s okay with me. I’m one of them. But throughout my years in the AEC industry, I’ve come across one particular tool that is anything but standard.

I’m talking about the designer’s writing instrument of choice. The perfect pen. 

Edward Bulwer-Lytton first said, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” and when it comes to designers, the pen is our sword. Or at least as close as it gets. 

So I thought I would put out into the designer universe my unsolicited and potentially unwelcome opinion about the pen above all pens.

I’m not telling you to change your habits, or that your pen of preference is inferior. Even though it probably is.

So here we go.

My pen of choice

I use the Pilot Precise V5.  Not the V4. Not even the V6. I’m V5 all the way.

Why, you ask? Pilot Precise V5 pen

The V5 offers me the perfect balance that you’d hope for and expect out of a quality medium weight pen.

Anything thinner and I’d feel like I’m scratching the paper with each stroke. Anything thicker, and I’d start having ink smears across every page. I’m left handed. The struggle is real.

On 20# bond paper, the V5 lays down just the right amount of ink to be legible but dry before my hand bulldozes through.

As you would also hope, it additionally comes in a nice rainbow of assorted colors. Whether you’re especially Type A (let’s be honest, you probably are) and have a very specific use for every color, or you’re like me and just need something to think about on a particularly slow day, you’ve got the precise (see what I did there?) solution in the V5. Pilot Precise V5 package of multiple colors

All of this is to say, the Pilot V5 is the one for me.  Simple and elegant, yet not pretentious. Firm and reliable, yet not clunky. For utility and practicality, it absolutely gets the job done. 

Plus, they're pretty affordable. Get some for the whole office while you’re at it!

So that’s the writing instrument that has stolen my heart.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t wondered if there are better options.

Take Me Back To The Golden Days

I’m not sure you can say you really even had a childhood if you didn’t have one of those awesome 4-colors-in-one pens. I mean, talk about 4x bang for your buck.classic four color changing pen

It’s like the classic guy eyeing that gleaming Swiss Army Knife. You know the one. It has 14 tools of which you only know what three actually do and you’ll only ever use one: the knife. For opening boxes.

But that doesn’t matter, because you NEED it. You won’t survive without that Swiss Army Knife, and I don’t know how anyone survived grade school without one of those 4-colors-in-one pens.

And that got me thinking. Why do adults not have these? Did no pen manufacturer find a way to make one of those that actually works? Or is it just out of fear of being mocked out of the office that no one ever purchased them? 

I decided that I couldn’t leave that path unexplored. I started digging through Google, looking to find a more grown-up version of that once-beautiful interchangeable pen that was the pinnacle of coolness in the fourth grade.  

I mean, it had to exist, right?  This is 2018. We have self-driving cars, reusable rockets, robots that vacuum the floor for you – there had to be something.

A Classy Color Changing Pen

Then I found it. The Lamy 2000 Multi-Pen.  4 colors in one, with a sleek design, and inconspicuous mechanism to select the right color.

Lamy 2000 Four Color Multi Pen 

I could feel the excitement of fourth grade me building up inside me, but had to stop and explore two things: functionality and price. 

According to the reviews, it seems to be well built, though there appear to be some complaints about the “slowness” and “weakness” of the ink. Overall, however, reviews seem to be positive, including one praising the Lamy 2000 as the "best multipen I have ever used."

Lamy 2000 Four Color Multi Pen

However, it appears that a scaled up design also calls for a scaled up price. Last I checked, this baby clocks in at a clean $64.00. That’s $64.00 I don’t see in my wallet right now, but hey – if you want to give it a shot, I’d love to hear your opinion.

Lamy 2000 Four Color Multi Pen

Of course, I suppose having a multi-color pen might save me enough time to make up for the hour I’ve spent exploring pens and writing this post... Okay, probably not. But they’re still cool. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

In the meantime, I’ll be sticking with my trusty Precision V5. It hasn’t let me down yet!



Byron Gehrig



More Favorite Pen Posts:

Part II: The Best Pens for Architectural Sketching and Markup – An Architect’s Perspective

Part III: A Designer’s Favorite Pen – Part III


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