The Euphoria Dream is a new venture for Benu: a special store exclusive for its own brand site, priced at $280, featuring a multi-layered handpainted decorative finish that takes five days to complete before being finished with a polished lacquer layer.
And it’s this labour-intensive decorative process that’s really under review here. In all other respects, the Dream is a standard Benu Euphoria, from its recyclable paper packaging to its unplated steel Schmidt #6 nib and converter filler. This edition isn’t even numbered or limited like the Talisman Mistletoe I reviewed last.
I liked the Euphoria first time round: it’s a big, comfortable, solidly built pen with quick cap threads, a good clip, and excellent writing performance. Its long, tapered, faceted design makes it that bit more graceful or elegant than some of Benu’s models.
The ‘standard’ Euphoria is $118 from Benu’s store (£90 from Cult), so at $280 the Dream is more than twice the price, and well into gold nib or piston filler territory (or in some cases both — thinking here of the Lamy 2000). Is the hand-painted finish worth this dramatic increase?
The base resin that Benu uses here is a dark purple, lightly glittery. It’s dark enough that in many lights the black cap band doesn’t stand out at all (edit: the cap band isn’t black, it just looks darker due to the thicker material). The section is also purple. The purple barrel is the canvas for the decoration (there’s none on the cap or section). It’s an attractive material, the right balance between work-appropriate and interesting.
The decoration itself is lovely. It wraps in a ring around the middle of the barrel, positioned so that it’s always visible when you’re holding the pen, and it’s not obscured by posting or capping.
The depth created by the multiple layers is visible, with distinct areas of colour overlayed. The opalescent colours range from gentle gold and silver powder to hints of green, yellow, blue, pink, lilac and purple.
The overall effect is rather cosmic, but not in a loud and shouty way. It all works together as a palette, and there’s no ‘duff’ side to the pattern: it looks good all the way round. Of course, every one of these handmade works of art will be different.
Under the fingertips, the design is completely flush and smooth with the surface. It’s protected by layers of lacquer so it won’t chip or wear off. And Benu has done a great job of the final polish, which is flawless on every surface. This is not an amateur paint job.
To my eyes this is the prettiest Benu I’ve tried yet. The painted decoration allows for much greater control and clarity than the rather blunt and unpredictable art of mixing resin blanks. I really like the opal galaxy circling the barrel, and I often find myself twirling the Dream, looking at the details as the light reflects off the sharp facets of the Euphoria design.
There’s no doubt that creating a multi-layered, hand-painted design like this costs money. There are materials, tooling, but most of all, hours of a craftsperson’s time. The $160 premium over the standard Euphoria only pays for a handful of hours at a decent wage (and this is also why urushi pens are so expensive). So I don’t think this pricing is in any way gouging on Benu’s part.
But I worry that the core appeal of Benu for many fans is that they are affordable fun: they punch above their weight with great writing experiences, fun and interesting colours, and a sub-£100 price point. The Dream is quite a big stretch away from that value proposition.
To make the Dream feel more special, I would have liked a numbered edition, even a different box. And for another £50 on the cost price they could have added a Ti nib, a coloured feed, or something else to differentiate the rest of the pen from a base Euphoria. But now I’m speculating instead of reviewing.
I like the Dream: it’s my favourite Benu yet, and to me the unique decoration is worth the premium. Whether it’s worth it for you… that’s your call.
Benu provided me this pen to review at no charge. You can get yours here.