Caran d’Ache’s writing implements, as well as its art and drawing materials are recognised around the world for their outstanding quality. Combining technical knowhow, innovation and aesthetic appeal, these very personal objects experiment with original materials and superb design to add refinement to every new page of writing.
Each creation is a synthesis of the spirit, rigour, determination and expertise of specialists in more than 90 skills working exclusively in Geneva, in the great tradition of Swiss manufacturing and in line with the sense of social and environmental responsibility, which the brand holds dear.
Caran d’Ache draws on all its expertise to design products that foster creativity in every one of its customers. It designs and manufactures art supplies and writing implements for all types of user, from budding creatives to the most renowned professionals.
Caran d’Ache’s origins
Founded as the “Fabrique Genevoise de Crayons” in Geneva in 1915, the Maison Caran d’Ache adopted its current name in 1924 when Arnold Schweitzer took the reins. The new name of “Caran d’Ache” went hand in hand with its increasing international success, and is at once a reference to “karandash”, the Russian word for “pencil”, and, with the spelling “Caran d’Ache”, the pseudonym used by Emmanuel Poiré, one of the most renowned cartoonists of the Belle Époque.
The Maison is a true family business. Today it is headed by Carole Hubscher, representing the fourth generation of a family that has been involved in decision-making at the highest level since 1930.
The company has been located in the canton of Geneva since its beginnings, and is the only one in the world to manufacture a comprehensive range of artistic and writing implements in a single location. Its coloured pencils, wax pastels, outstanding pens and exclusive inks all act as an extension of the hand in its desire to create, mimicking its movements as it experiments with new techniques and explores new shades of meaning.
The Maison Caran d’Ache hones a business culture that revolves around excellence, sustainable development and social responsibility. It exports to more than 90 countries, where it is a proud international ambassador for Switzerland and the Swiss Made label, which are closely intertwined with the values of quality and innovation that are so dear to the company.
Caran d’Ache’s inventions
With their elegant design, original choice of materials, strong pigments and technical excellence, Caran d’Ache products are an invitation to discover and explore. They bear witness to the great freedom of creativity.
- 1915: The first Caran d’Ache cedar-wood graphite pencils are designed for all types of work and daily uses.
- 1929: The Fixpencil is invented; it is the world’s first propelling pencil with a patented gripping mechanism.
- 1931: The Prismalo, the world’s first water-soluble pencil, revolutionises the world of colour.
- 1952: The Maison invents the Neocolor, a wax pastel that wins over the biggest names in the art world.
- 1953: The first ballpoint pen in the Ecridor collection is launched, one of Caran d’Ache’s most iconic writing instruments.
- 1969: The 849 ballpoint pen, carrying the famous Goliath giant cartridge, which can fill up to 600 A4 pages, becomes one of the Geneva-based company’s flagship products.
- 1970: Caran d’Ache unveils the new Madison collection, its first fine-writing range to include a fountain pen.
- 2008: The Luminance 6901 range of outstanding permanent pencils is launched, offering the best lightfastness in the world today.
- 2012: For the first time ever, a writing implement allows you to observe the constellations: the limited edition Caelograph.
- 2014: Stretching the limits of research, the company’s craftsmen develop Museum Aquarelle. The pencils’ lead contains highly concentrated pigments in a formula that is completely water-soluble, transparent and lightfast.
- 2014: Caran d’Ache launches a pen made from innovative materials that eliminate 99.9% of all bacteria present on its surface.
Caran d’Ache is there every step of the way: more than a brand, it is both a devoted work colleague and an inspiring friend.
Its culture of handwriting is based on the permanent values that have been at the heart of the company since it was founded. Caran d’Ache links the past to the present and makes tradition a part of contemporary life. Making products that have a soul, that are timeless and yet deeply rooted in the spirit of our time: that is the vocation of a company devoted to excellence. The excellence of the Swiss Made label underpins the service and customer focus which Caran d’Ache is proud to provide.
Caran d’Ache is a family business and a complete manufacturing facility. All its products are designed and produced in Geneva. To this day, the Maison preserves and develops its own precious knowhow as a hallmark of longevity, continuity and trust.
The company has an unmistakable family feel and recognises its people as one of its most important assets. Its shared ethical values, its lasting partnerships and its close links to its immediate environment all illustrate the sense of loyalty and affection that has been fundamental to its development.
Proof of this can be found in the fact that some of Caran d’Ache’s employees have been with the company for over 40 years, while on average they stay there for around 14 years. At Caran d’Ache, it is not uncommon to see two or even three generations of a single family follow each other into the same workshop.
Innovation and creativity
The originality of the materials and technology of Caran d’Ache’s creations is due to the efforts of two integrated R&D departments, one devoted to colours and the other to writing. The results can be seen in numerous patented inventions, such as Fixpencil and Neocolor, which revolutionised writing and drawing. The company brings together traditional craftsmanship and advanced technology in pursuit of such achievements. Partnerships with artists and Swiss universities also actively help the company to come up with such exceptional products.
The Maison Caran d’Ache attaches a great deal of importance to its Swiss identity. As the country’s only manufacturer of art supplies and writing implements, Caran d’Ache proudly exhibits its values of quality and innovation around the globe. The rigorous promise inherent in the Swiss Made label, which appears on all Caran d’Ache products, attests to this firm commitment to designing and producing Swiss products on Swiss soil.
Ongoing quality control of both materials and manufacturing processes, which are certified for ISO 9001, is a key concern, and is based on research and development carried out by two integrated laboratories. Its selection of raw materials, its design processes and its never-ending search for new sources of inspiration are the cornerstones of Caran d’Ache’s international success. For its customers around the world, this commitment is borne out in the lifetime guarantee that comes with all products bearing its name.
Social responsibility and engagement
From its very beginnings in 1915, Caran d’Ache has placed the quality of its products and respect for the environment and human beings at the heart of its development. This commitment to sustainable development can be seen at every stage of production, as well as in the Maison’s business culture.
Reusing wood shavings to heat the workshops, installing solar panels on the roof and placing beehives in the factory grounds are just three of the ways in which the company has contributed to environmental conservation. All Caran d’Ache pencils are FSC- or PEFC-certified, which guarantees that the wood used in them is sourced from sustainably managed forests. Caran d’Ache is also a pioneer for having developed a water-based varnish for its pencils, which has allowed it to reduce its use of solvents significantly.
The Geneva-based manufacturer has also hostedan integration workshop for several years, another example of its commitment to social responsibility.
The Magic of Caran d’Ache
Colour and art
Powerful. Long-lasting. Pure. Shimmering. Caran d’Ache masters pigments to create colours that bring the most beautiful inspiration to the blank page. Its exceptional prism of 300 shades is a remarkable fusion of outstanding materials and expert craftsmanship.
From imperial purple to royal blue, from flamboyant coral to cherry red, the symphony of colours flourishes with different materials – pencil leads, felt tips, pastels, gouaches, coloured inks, water colours and acrylics all offer a brilliant finish and outstanding lightfastness. Since 1915, Caran d’Ache has inspired and enabled generations of artists, from the newly fledged to the internationally renowned.
In fact, the Maison joined forces with one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century for a remarkable event that took place in 2015. Exhibiting works by Pablo Picasso produced using the famous Swiss coloured pencils and pastels, the exhibition “Les Caran d’Ache de Picasso”, the first of its kind, was held at Kunsthaus Interlaken in close collaboration with the Archives Claude Picasso.
Caran d’Ache’s Office products are designed to help face all the challenges of the working day. Their original designs often make them trendsetters, yet they are superbly functional too. Among the many successes in the Office range, the Fixpencil, 849, 825, 888 Infinite and Alchemix collections are particularly recognisable.
The various collections are affordable for all and strike a balance between aesthetic appeal and writing comfort. They are designed for use with the quality ballpoint cartridges produced in the Geneva workshops, including the famous Goliath.
Just like handwriting itself, Caran d’Ache writing instruments convey personality, movement and heritage. They are the fruit of a century of constantly evolving knowhow. Since the 1930s, the Maison has been honing its unique methods in order to design writing instruments that bring together aesthetic appeal, comfort and high-quality materials. With their masterful craftsmanship, inspired design and flawless technical precision, the fine-writing collections are the embodiment of a passion for superb manufacturing.
The Varius, Léman and Ecridor collections showcase the talents of specialists in engraving, lacquering and polishing who dare to push the boundaries of material and form, working with chain mail, wood, precious stones, ceramics and Chinese lacquer. Some even become works of art.
The Maison Caran d’Ache is one of the very few manufacturers in Europe to master the age-old art of Chinese lacquer. It took years of research and development to apply this expertise to luxury writing implements. Chinese lacquer is used in its raw form or with blue, black or red pigment and requires several lengthy stages of preparation and application. Writing implements enhanced with Chinese lacquer are prized the world over for their durability, shine and smoothness to the touch.
For a personal touch: Caran d’Ache writing instruments and colour boxes can be personalised in various ways, ensuring that they remain forever faithful to their owners.
With a range of more than 260 leading products in the fields of high-end writing implements, office pens andart and drawing materials, Caran d’Ache supplies personalised gifts to both businesses and individuals, giving them the opportunity to add a personal touch by engraving a name or a message to a pen or fountain pen.
The World of Caran d’Ache
Today, Caran d’Ache products are sold in more than 90 countries. Since 2011, the Caran d’Ache experience has also been on offer in its dedicated boutiques in Switzerland (two in Geneva and one in Zurich) and abroad (in cities including Berlin, Bucharest and Tokyo).
Caran d’Ache has also opened a new online shop, available in Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, allowing its customers to explore and buy its products via the web.
Partners and ambassadors
Over the years, the Maison Caran d’Ache has been privileged to work with many renowned names to produce special or limited editions. Sir Paul Smith and Mario Botta have both recently designed Caran d’Ache writing instruments, for example.
In line with its focus on sustainability, Caran d’Ache climbed aboard the Solar Impulse project, the first round-the-world flight on an exclusively solar-powered plane. As a specialist partner, Caran d’Ache supplied the very special pens used by the pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, to write up their historic logbooks.
Caran d’Ache is also fully committed to developing young talent, particularly in the field of art and design, and has broadened its mission through a number of partnerships. It became a sporting sponsor for the first time in 2014, concluding a five-year agreement to support the talented young tennis player Belinda Bencic.
The company also seeks to defend freedom of expression around the world, and supports Cartooning for Peace, which helps press cartoonists advocating for peace and human rights.
Carole Hubscher, President
Carole Hubscher graduated from the École Hotelière de Genève and completed a Management Development Program at Harvard Business School. She then held various sales and marketing positions with Caran d’Ache’s US distributor in New York before heading up its international sales department in Geneva until 1997. She was subsequently International Marketing Manager for the Calvin Klein brand within the Swatch Group. In 2003, she became a partner at brandstorm, an agency which builds premium and luxury brands. She joined Caran d’Ache’s Board in 2002, which she began chairing in 2012.
Jean-François de Saussure, CEO
A chief executive with more than 20 years’ experience in multinational settings, Jean-François de Saussure has served as Business Development Director and CEO both in Switzerland and internationally, for major services and security technology companies (SGS and SICPA respectively). He was born in 1966 and holds a Master’s in International Economics from the Institut des Hautes Études Internationales in Geneva. He has been the CEO of Caran d’Ache since 1 January 2013.