NOTED: Phidon Pens
Elsa Tang profiles Phidon Pens, a local stationery shop, and their upcoming Phidon x Lamy event.
Notebooks and pens are indispensable tools for any architecture student. We always make sure we have one of each with us wherever we go. Some even insist on going to bed with them right next to their pillow – just in case inspiration strikes at 4am. Back in first-year, we were all given a black, 5″ x 8″ Moleskine with plain pages as part of our starter kit, but after a few months, most will have ran out of pages and need a replacement.
So where do the students of UWSA go to restock their toolkit?
There’s ACM, of course, but their offerings are slim. Luckily, Galt is home to Phidon Pens, a small, but cozy, stationery shop located just a 5-minute walk away from the School of Architecture. It’s a stop that many will repeatedly make during their time in Cambridge, especially at the beginning of each term. The friendly figures behind the counter – shopowners Mano and Baldeep Duggal – are familiar faces to students, many of whom they will greet by name when stepping through the door.
The walls of their beautiful store are lined with shelves upon shelves of notebooks ranging from wallet-friendly Clairefontaine cahiers from France to luxurious leather-bound tomes from Italy. There are even Moleskine lookalikes (but with much improved paper!) from Leuchtturm1917 and Rhodia for those who can’t leave behind the familiar aesthetics. The centre of the shop is occupied by a glass cabinet overflowing with all sorts of fountain pens. Some of these might be worth more than a month’s worth of groceries for students, but Mano also stocks Phidon with plenty of affordable options like the ever popular Lamy Safari or the cheerful Pilot Metropolitan. In fact, a fountain pen from Phidon is almost like a rite of passage for many UWSA students. Many of us probably bought our first fountain pen from Mano, who patiently talks curious students through the myriad of options available at the shop and lets us try out a few to find the perfect fit.
Of course, not everyone making a visit to Phidon is there for fountain pens. Sometimes, we just need a good old ballpoint pen that we can throw into our bags without worry. Phidon also carries all the everyday essentials like graphite pencils, erasers and ballpoint pens. If anything is out of stock, Mano is always happy to make a quick order so that students always have what they need.
For Mano and Baldeep, it was important that their relationship with the UWSA community extends beyond having the school’s students as their customers. They also firmly believe in giving back to the students who have been big supporters of the store from the very beginning. The shop frequently participates as sponsors for student-run events such as Paint Night at Bridge. In addition, they recently established the Dr. Daleep Singh Memorial Award, in memory of Baldeep’s father who was the Head of Department of African studies and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Delhi. This annual scholarship is given to a student completing their master’s thesis with a research focus on architecture in Africa. In 2016, Phidon were also major donors to the Evidence Room, an exhibition led by faculty members of UWSA on display during Venice Biennale (and later at the ROM in the summer of 2017). Without a doubt, Mano and Baldeep are a vital part of the extended UWSA community.
The annual Phidon x Lamy event will take place on November 18th from 10:00 to 16:00. Phidon will be showcasing Lamy’s wonderful range of pens and hosting giveaways throughout the day. Students are invited to drop by for some refreshments as well as to check out some of Lamy’s new pens. There will also be additional discounts for Lamy products for the day.
Phidon Pens is located at 63 Dickson Street. Opening hours are 10:00 – 18:00 from Monday – Friday, and 10:00 – 16:00 on Saturday. Students receive a 10% discount on all purchases (excluding Rimowa products).
Elsa Tang is a graduate student at the UWSA, and a shop assistant at Phidon. She really likes pens.