Hikerdelic Inner Circle: Ajoto

What does a good morning look like in Ajoto hq?

It might be a bit cliche but when the suns out over Manchester there are few better places to be. We can take Chippy, the studio dog, for a long walk and spend a morning packing orders and chatting about the trips we want to take the places we're looking forward to visiting next. Throw in a good cup of tea or coffee and we are all set. 

Like us you're tucked away in an old mill in Ancoats, what does the area you work in mean to you?

Ancoats is an fascinating area, there is this deep industrial history juxtaposed with a constant feeling change and movement. I remember the area as kid coming into Manchester in the 90’s and it was a forgotten no-mans land with the remnants of the the cardroom estate and crumbling warehouses and mills that had seen better days. It's only when I moved the AJOTO studio here 2014 that I witnessed the speed of change and the whole area transform. 

Growing up in the North West and now working in Ancoats, the industrial heritage, diversity of people and the changing landscape all end up filtering into our work. The everyday tools we make such as the Pen are primarily functional pieces of industrial craft, where advanced manufacturing meets traditional knowledge. Then there are the stories behind how we make our products, as we openly celebrate the people, places and processes involved. It's the balance of aknowledging and valuing elements of the past, but then embracing new and better ways of making and working.  

What inspired the discovery collection of pens and how did you develop the design?

As far back as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with space exploration and technology. There is a unique aesthetic quality that I really connect that comes from having to craft one-off or small batch technology products but using super high tech machinery and materials. 

As or the discovery collection, I used to follow a blog called ISO50 created by a graphic designer come musician called Scott Hansen aka Tycho. He posted lots of nostalgic sci-fi, NASA and space imagery alongside music links, one of the articles he posted was about satellites and some of the NASA programs. One evening this inadvertently started a chain reaction that ended up with me reading about the NASA Discovery Program into the early hours of the morning. One of the programs, called Startdust, was the first to bring back samples of a comet to earth and included microscopic interstellar dust particles dating from the very origins of the solar system. The last engine burn of the Startdust was in March 2011 around the time we started AJOTO and I wanted to to create a range of Pens that paid homage to this. To do this worked on a way to coat the Pens with this special kiln harden ceramic that created these droplet effects, to represent the idea of space dust particles being collect on the Pen. The names of each piece reference the names of the spacecraft and the comets. 

What new products are you working on? We saw lots of colourful paracord! 

Yes, we’ve been working on a range of notebooks and notebook covers for a while now. We are in the process of launching them very soon. The paracords are part of the closure system we created for the notebook covers. They are interchangeable as we really like the idea of people customising them to make them their own. The boxes or cord are from some of our research into the options availbile, which currently seem endless. It’s a fun task though. The notebooks are all printed and bound in the UK and will be produced in editions that each celebrate a unique paper from some of the best paper mills. It’s been a long time coming. 

We recently launched our Sterling Silver Pens that aren all precision machined from solid bars of silver. Making this edition had a few tense moments but they are really special and feel incredible to use and hold. We are really proud of how they turned out. 

We have also been working on a small range of ceramic pieces with a pottery in Arita, Japan that we hope to launch soon but the production is taking longer than expected. 

What's the most interesting bespoke request you've had?

Thats a hard one to answer as we’ve made a wide range of bespoke and custom pieces since we began making Pens and worked on projects with large international companies down to individuals. Ironically, it wasn’t something on our radar when we began AJOTO but it has become important aspect of our work. The most interesting bespoke pieces are usually when we get approached to collaborate with like minded individuals and brands. The focus is generally more artistic than simply adding a brand mark and we have fun creating exclusive small editions. The simplicity of the Pen design makes it the perfect canvas to explore materials, processes and also engraving. 


Chris wears the original logo in navy (here) and Marta wears the Material Worth tee in off white (here)