The Brush is an interactive retractable pen with the shape of a Chinese brush.
It is designed as a tool of token for visitors to access to (more) knowledge, for my thesis project – perfection within i’mperfection.



A glass case with wooden architectural models inside. a hand reaches toward the label beside the case, holding an oversized black pen, as if to touch the label with the eraser side of the pen.The precedent came from The Pen at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York.
It is a high-tech device that resembles the most basic tool of design, the Pen is a key part of the new Cooper Hewitt experience. Given at admission, it enables every visitor to collect objects from around the galleries and create their own designs on interactive tables. At the end of a visit the Pen is returned and all the objects collected or designed by the visitor are accessible online through a unique web address printed on every ticket. These can be shared online and stored for later use in subsequent visits.

The Brush and The Pen share a common value: as a token for users to access more knowledge of the objects in a museum (and in my scenario, an exhibition I curate and design for my thesis).



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The Brush has a visual look of a Chinese brush, with a few laser cut circles to remind users where to put fingers tips on in order to hold a Chinese brush properly. The top of The Brush will be a push button to perform click function. The tip is a capacitive material with the shape of a Chinese brush.

When unclicked, users could use The Brush as a touchscreen pen.
When the retractable part is clicked, it an ink cartridges will be pushed out and they could use it as a ball-point pen.

This design is trying to draw a connection between the past (suggesting Chinese calligraphy has stemmed since early human civilisation) and the present (touchscreen usage for modern digital devices), whilst making a dialogue between the East (Chinese brush visual) and West (ball-point pen).


Due to the need of electrical charge from the user to the capacitive tip of The Brush, I have added a few laser cut holes so that when user touch them, it will pass their electrical charge to the capacitive tip. Moreover, these circles could also serve as a visual aid to guide them where to put their fingers in order to learn how to hold a Chinese brush properly.

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Since perfection within i’mperfection is educational and promotes the appreciation of Chinese calligraphy, I would like the visitors to be able to use this brush after the exhibition visit. Hence, I added the practical usage of it as a ball-point pen with a click.

I would also like it to be served as a souvenir, hence I have been investigating in different components in order to progress it for mass production.

You may find the prototype journey in the following links:
The Brush 0.1
The Brush 0.2




I have realised the thrust device has been an industrial secret in a lot of companies after I have dissected numerous of pens now.
I have also been looking at 3D models of thrust device that are available online and tried to 3D print them… with no luck…

I have also tried to sculpt the thrust device of a BIC pen and tried to 3D print it. However, due to the nano size of it and the technical limitation on 3D printers, I am not able to print it well… Johan from l’ENSCI suggested me to try sculpteo, however it takes around 550 euros to print one tiny component…

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Hence for the time being, I am inserting an actual pen within a steel tube.


I have some successful tests with mixing Encapso K with Bare conductive electric paint.
However, as it takes the paint too long to dry, Stephanie S from Google+ has suggested me to use the graphite powder. However, all of the mixtures resulted in zero conductivity…

Luckily, a friend of mine is able to contact a manufacturer in Hong Kong who actually produce the capacitive material for the touchscreen pen, and will be able to send me some samples for prototypes soon! :)))