Sweet Spot

The Lamy 2000. Image by Thirteen Of Clubs CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The Lamy 2000. Image by Thirteen Of Clubs CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I own a fountain pen I love: the Lamy 2000. Part of why I love this pen is that although it first went into production 51 years ago, it looks like it was designed last month. (The designer, Gerd Alfred Müller, employed Bauhaus principles in its design.) It’s a beautiful, timeless, functional object.

One of the most peculiar things about the Lamy 2000 is that while it has an exceptionally smooth nib, it writes best when held at a particular angle with regards to the paper; if you rotate the pen even slightly while writing, ink flow stops. In fountain pen lingo, the Lamy 2000 is said to have a narrow sweet spot.

People also have sweet spots. We all have many abilities, but most of us only excel at a few. Are you aware of what yours are? How well do you function when pushed out of your comfort zone — when someone “rotates” you? In other words, how broad is your sweet spot? Some fields call for instruments with very narrow sweet spots. The design of information environments isn’t one of them.