by Inigo del Castillo in New Products on Friday 7 February 2014

Tokyo-based designer Duncan Shotton just made our lives – or at least for those who use pencils – a bit more colourful. He started a Kickstarter campaign that featured Rainbows Pencils. Now with the project fully funded, he talked with us about the how it all started. [read our previous post about Rainbow Pencils here]

How did you first come up with the idea of rainbow pencils?
I already had a few stationery designs under my belt (tape dispenser/nessie & real boy push pins) and I was actually trying to think of a sharpener design. I realised it was the pencil shavings that interested me more than the sharpener itself. I was aware of paper pencil technology and had been wanting to design something that incorporated a rainbow somehow for a while. Bingo.

You worked on Rainbow Pencils for two years: what motivated you to continue with the product development process and not give up on the idea?
Before setting up my own studio full-time, I worked at a UK design consultancy for 4 years. Some of my colleagues there had been working on the same project for 10 years. Product development takes time, and you have to expect it, especially when working with other people & companies (clients, manufacturers, etc…).

Weighing up the time/money investment against the resulting product/design is part of the job, and with Rainbow Pencils, I was so keen on the idea, I didn’t think twice about pressing on and making it happen. When I first approached the manufacturer, they responded “impossible”, and it took two years to gradually turn that around.

How does it feel now that you’ve zoomed way past beyond your funding goal and that people are loving such a simple but beautifully-designed product?
Yeah… it’s awesome.

Since you’re based in Japan, has the country influenced you in any way in making the pencils?
Not really, I came up with the idea and the project was already underway whilst I was still in the UK, but the Japanese certainly love stationery and paper, so hopefully that will help them become more of a success here, now that we’ve started to sell to shops.