My obsession with red OBJECTS


Tombow has lots of famous stationery brands, and the top 2 are probably ZOOM for design-focused products, and MONO for eraser-related products. For example, the current wave of MONO Graph mechanical pencils all feature very useful twist eraser units fitted with various MONO formulations.

However, right around when ZOOM was taking off and earning design awards left and right, Tombow launched a more low key brand called OBJECT. I have not seen any official story about what it was suppose to be about but judging from the body of work, I see it as everyday stationery with better aesthetical design… falling in between ZOOM at the high end* and MONO at the lower end.

  • the exception being ZOOM 404, a very unremarkable and cheap plastic design.


The first OBJECT was the ‘OC’ in 1986, a triangular profile ballpoint. It doesn’t even say OBJECT on the body but the Flight to 100 microsite says it was the first. It was off my radar for the longest time because… pink.

My own first OBJECT was the 202 series of translucent rollerballs. This was around 2016 when I had gotten my first bout of Tombow Fever. Amongst them was a red pen, my first red OBJECT.

After that, nada for 6 years as I sought out other grails and side quests. Yes, I did obtain the OBJECT CD, the lovely AO/KO series and the OBJECT SF shaker. But those were in simple elegant shades of silver, chrome and black.

And then I chanced on it in 2022: a beautifully streamlined OBJECT CR100 ballpoint in red. Now I had TWO red OBJECTS, and suddenly I was thinking, “why not the red SF shaker too?”


This started a relentless pursuit of red (and red adjacent) OBJECTS… the pink OC and EO series in 2023, along with an X2 dual color pen, and finally, a red OBJECT rollerball just a couple weeks ago.

Are there more? I really think I’ve caught them all!

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Where the other OBJECTS are stored :+1:t2:

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Lovely photos and awesome summary, as usual, Kelvin. Thank you for all the inspiration and knowledge you send out weekly!

Can we talk about pictures?

I remember you said for lighting you have color corrected overhead lamps in your work studio, or sometimes use natural light. Any other lighting magic?
What settings are you using on your camera?
I have a Fuji FinePix S9200 (16 MB) but it seems to be better suited for outdoor/scenic photography.
I am still very much in the learning phase, but on my Fuji if I go with lower ISO (100 or 200) my F-stop is kind of fixed at longer distances, so as I zoom in, F-stop changes I end up losing focus on some parts. It’s pretty negligible but I still would like to get better. I am using a tripod with the Fuji, but I generally get better results with my iPhone.

Do you do any post correction? I almost always have to bring into GIMP and do color correction (mostly white balance) but I have played with some sharpen filters to help with the problem I mentioned above.

EDIT: That pencil case is the :bomb:

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You need a Namiki Emperor in red :v:

Fountain pens have no place in my collection… except maybe the Pilot Myu series, and purely as a designed object.

Hey Patrick. Truth is, you either go interchangeable lens like a DSLR or mirrorless system, OR you stick with a modern smartphone. The thing about compact digital cameras is that they compromise on the aperture controls (the f-stop changes involuntarily as you zoom in and out), AND they lose big time to the smartphones for computational power. I think it is now defacto that the computer makers have grok’d photography faster than camera makers could grok computers.

Almost all of my shots are on an ancient iPhone XR. I haven’t ‘upgraded’ because the older sensor is actually pretty clean in terms of noise and I simply do not need the extra megapixels. I only pull out my mirrorless Olympus m43 system when I need an extra wide shot on a tripod.

And of course: experiment with composition. e.g. in the massed close-up shot, I played with arranging the pieces so that I could capture the markings, BUT at the same time, I was moving my iPhone closer and farther away until I felt I had enough of the scene in focus, PLUS a little bit of foreground and background out of focus. Easier to do on a DSLR for sure.

Otherwise, for post processing I recommend the free app Snapseed. After I crop my shot in iPhone, I go into Snapseed to:

  1. Correct the color temperature to my liking
  2. Adjust the exposure for shadows, highlights, contrast and saturation
  3. Spot erase dust specks
  4. Desaturate unwanted reflections of my skin tone on chromed surfaces
  5. Adjust texture and sharpening (only after the above steps)
  6. Final adjustments for vignette and preferred color tone
  7. Export

If a shot is not exposed well in the first place (burned out highlights, or shadows eating all the details out), I start over. By Step 2, I will know if a shot is not worth the effort.

And… I simply work in JPEG. No RAW files. I haven’t got the time and space (or professional leanings) to do so.

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