I have been typing on a keyboard for so long, I think I have forgotten the joy of putting pen to paper. In fact, some of us may have forgotten the art of handwriting altogether.
It seems that technology has destroyed our collective handwriting ability. According to one survey, a third of us can’t even read our own handwriting, let alone someone else’s!
A company based in the south of France is addressing this human loss and providing a connection between modern technology and the romance of writing as something as pure and essential as the raw materials they use in their products.
The company’s name is Orée, pronounced “oray” and they describe themselves as artisans of emotional technology, crafting lasting technology tools that inspire imagination, contemplation and renewed attention to the beauty and wonder of everyday life.
Each of their pieces is handcrafted from the workshop in southern France, using only the finest sustainable natural materials.
In French, Orée means “at the edge of the forest” or “at the brink of something new”. And this is exactly where their products exist.
OREE DESIGN PHILOSOPOHY
It would be simple to say that Orée is creating a link between technology and a more sustainable, eco-friendly future. Let’s face it, phones and accessories all tend to look the same after a while. At first they look futuristic, bright and shiny but the gloss soon wears off and they begin to appear as somewhat impersonal, brushed aluminium and plastic products off a production line.
Electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops have become affordable because they are being mass-produced by cheap labor using synthetic, unsustainable materials.
Part of Orée’s design philosophy is to move away from impersonal materials and use eco-friendly raw materials from ethically harvested walnut, tilia and maple woods.
Each of their products is hand-crafted – putting technology as a tool in the hands of artists, humans, expressing themselves through their passion, integrity and pride.
It is obvious that one of the fundamentals of Orée’s design philosophy is humanity – to provide a romantic, emotional, inspirational and creative link, or marriage between humans and the kinds of modern technology that are now dictating our lives.
THE OREE STYLOGRAPH
The best demonstration of Orée’s design philosophy is the recently-released Orée Stylograph. Elegant, simple and lasting functionality crafted with the finest natural materials. In this case, made from copper, drawing on “the timeless purity and durability of this natural metal, the first ever used by mankind”.
But with Stylograph, there is something else going on. Something more important.
The ballpoint pen used in the device allows us to capture our hand-written notes and drawings on paper and automatically syncs them in a digital format to instantly share, edit and archive them via your smartphone.
Although made of copper, the pen accommodates any standard D1 type ballpoint refill.
Where the technological magic happens is inside the pen itself. There’s an accelerometer inside and a camera near the tip that combine together for great results.
The high-speed micro camera in the pen tracks where pen strokes are positioned on the page – relying on the paper’s barely visible patterns for reference. An accelerometer within the pen also detects its movement and angle.
The camera reads the special pattern hidden in the paper that tells it where on the page you’re writing and also what page you’re on. It’s only when combined with the special notebook that the pen becomes a brilliant tool.
The copper pen comes with a leather cover ring-binder notebook that holds 190 pages of refillable micro-patterned mineral stone paper. The notebook also has a discrete pen holder for the copper pen.
The notebook comes with 190 pages of thick, mineral stone A5 paper. The paper feels smooth and durable to touch and write on. Every odd page is blank and every even page is lined.
You can’t really see the micropattern on the paper that the pen’s camera reads; it just looks like high-quality notebook paper. The only obvious point of interest is a small symbol at the top of every page. It’s in the shape of a paper aeroplane, like you’re sending one of your pages off to someone else. That’s exactly what it is. When you tap this symbol with your pen, the app gets to work.
The app is a free to download iOS and Android smartphone application that allows you to export your hand-written notes and sketches via Bluetooth in PDF, SVG or PNG format, alongside a host of other features.
The pen itself stores the writing until it’s able to sync across. This means you could even write without being around any of your devices and save your work later.
The ballpoint’s rechargeable battery offers up to two complete days of writing.
This is a real marriage of technology with the individual. As the Orée demonstration video says: “Now writing on paper will be the start of a journey. Some paper and a pen…that’s all we really need when an idea starts to form in our mind. Through the natural act of writing and sketching our idea becomes reality.”
To those who like to sketch and have not lost the romance of handwriting the Orée Stylograph is a saviour.
OREE BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD
Prior to developing the Stylograph, Orée had already built a reputation for innovative use of technology with its bluetooth keyboard and other products and accessories.
Their beautiful keyboard is made from a single piece of solid premium wood, sourced from family-owned sustainable forests in France. You can choose from a light maple or darker walnut and along with your choice of wood there are a number of other customisation options. You can also select from three different fonts for the letters and numbers keys.
Each board is assembled by hand and the keys are laser-etched into the wood, which means that they won’t peel off or fade over time, like most other keyboards.
The result is that it feels warmer and more pleasant to touch than an Apple or standard PC product.
Thanks to Bluetooth technology, the keyboard can connect to any Mac, iOS or any Windows device. Two AA batteries can power the keyboard for up to five months before needing to be replaced.
For those that share a typically-French sense of romance there are some other sweet customisations available like having the initials of your loved one hand-lacquered on your keyboard, or having a love-inspired poem hand-engraved on the back of your wooden keyboard.
Orée also have a number of other accessories evolved from their design philosophy, including a smartphone wireless charger called the Pebble 2 crafted from a single piece of wood or marble that also includes a high-end Bluetooth speaker for hands-free call and music while your phone is on charge.
Just place your phone on the Pebble 2 and let the magic happen: the elegant and sleek device charges your smartphone, syncs instantly to the integrated audio system and lets you listen to music and take phone calls in hands-free-mode thanks to its inbuilt speaker and microphone.
The Pebble 2 is artisanally crafted using the finest natural materials and the very best electronics such as a 5W loudspeaker with a bass reflex chamber built into the material, a CSR chipset with 3D surround sound optimization, with background noise and echo cancellation algorithms, making the marriage between technology and nature complete.