The first disposable ballpoint pen in the market, BIC Cristal was introduced in 1950 by a French consumer product brand, BIC. Based on a coherent set of ethos to offer high-quality products paired with affordability, BIC has been securing its position in the market by focusing on disposable consumer products.
I recently made an appearance on a television program for the first time in my life. I was quite nervous, but it was a valuable opportunity for me to look back upon my life. I gathered bits and pieces of my memories of past events and wove them together into a story. Some people who watched the program may think I had my life all planned out, but I am not the kind of person who looks far out into the future and plans every day, every minute. My life is a series of moments that try to seek long-term benefits for as many people as possible rather than chasing personal, immediate gratification. There have been times when the smallest things brought the biggest, most unexpected changes in my life.
I remember those small moments. A person I met during a trip later referred me to a person of great influence. Someone I met at a business meeting later came to me with a new business opportunity. A friend I used to sit next to in class later surprised me with a gift thanking me for a piece of advice I gave him years ago. There is more. I had the opportunity to publish a magazine with a reporter whose name I had come across by chance, and there was also a fan of this magazine who asked me to be part of a meaningful business. I believe that these kinds of unexpected moments build the life of a person and a business.
The brand this issue of B to introduces may not be considered a front-runner in the world of brands, but it is one we are all familiar with – BIC, the French manufacturer of pens, lighters, and shavers. BIC focuses on producing high-quality products, and has redefined the concept of disposable everyday items. It promotes itself as a brand that makes affordable and reliable goods, but does not claim unreasonably that its products last for one hundred years. It may be hard to compare the quality of BIC products to high-priced fountain pens or S.T. Dupont and Zippo lighters that are passed down for generations, but the satisfaction BIC products bring to the user is certainly sufficient.
BIC reminds me of the Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI, which I feel goes straight to what is essential, eliminating all unnecessary details. BIC is not high-end, but it is reliable. That is why it is the most-familiar maker of pens and lighters to consumers. The BIC Cristal ballpoint pen has been featured many times in famous publications as one of the most iconic designs of the 20th century, and is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
I hope B opens the eyes of our readers to a new perspective on affordable everyday items such as pens and lighters. BIC did not plan to become what it is today, but the worldwide presence it has now achieved was gained due to the significance it placed on ordinary items that are often overlooked, and the ongoing commitment it has shown to its products over the years.
B takes a look into the market for low-cost, disposable everyday products, prompting readers to realize how easily these products are overlooked in our daily lives.
32 Line Up
Although BIC is famous for its ballpoint pens, it produces hundreds of other products as well. This section categorizes and introduces BIC products.
34 Inner Space
BIC products can be classified into stationery products, lighters, and shavers. This section introduces the features of BIC’s most iconic products.
BIC produces mostly low-cost disposable items albeit with functions which far exceed those of other brands. In this section, B disassembles several BIC products to take a closer look into their functions.
46 BIC and Others
BIC products are affordable, but their functions and designs are comparable to any high-end goods in the same category. BIC’s excellence in quality becomes even more evident when compared to similar low-cost items.
64 Office Supplie
This section surveys the office supplies of various companies where BIC products are used. Popular office supplies are, of course, affordable, yet high in quality.
76 Brand to Brand
BIC products are not collector’s items, so they are often used along with products from other brands. In this section, we ask BIC users what other brands they choose and listen to their stories.
87 B’s Cut
Most BIC products cost less than a dollar, but are considered invaluable. B investigates the value of these small and affordable items.
102 Brand Story
This is the story of how BIC started out in 1950 as a company that sold 29-cent pens, and has now grown into one of France’s most famous brands.
Since the company’s founding, BIC has been a part of the world of disposable everyday products. Today, the presence of BIC has in our daily lives is unable to be ignored.
- Suyoung Joh
- Editor In Chief
- Taehyuck Choi
- Art Director
- Chiho Ghim
- Deputy Editorial Director
- Eunsung Park
- Heather Yoo
- Styling Editor
- Insung Yoo
- Guest Editors
- Chanyoung Park, Donghyun Seo, Eunah Kim, Hyun Son, Jaeyeon Yang, Seungchul Yang, Sojung Jung
- Jungho Lee, Jihye Jeon
- Contributing Editors
- Hyeyoung Lee, Nari Park(U.K), Eaji Lee(JAPAN), Sungjoo Kim(GERMANY)
- Hyekyung Shin
- Jonghyun Kim, Junghoon Woo, Juyeon Lee, Minhyung Kim, Seungbok Lee, Sunghoon Park, Wooyoung Chung
- Onedoe Jung
- Gieun Lee, Hyunkyung Yoo, Jeanhee Ha, Rancy Kim, Soonok Hwang
- Text Correction
- Heather Yoo, Joyce Paek, Todd Sample
- Taewook You
- Hyungjin Choi
- JOH & Company
- Top Process
- BIC official webpage
- Webpage to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the launch of BIC Cristal ballpoint pen
- Official webpage of BIC lighter, Facebook page.
- Artists who use BIC ballpoint pens – Juan Francisco Casas & Enpieza, a design studio based in Spain