Reviews Stationery

A bespoke pen tray that charges your smartphone wirelessly handmade by Andrew James Crafts in Singapore!

My love for wood runs deep – for that reason, despite being offered a price I could not refuse, I refused to sell my Sailor Susutake with a gold plate bearing the signature of the esteemed, late Sailor nib-master Nobuyoshi Nagahara.

A durable, high-performance material, wood can truly endure the test of time. Since I started collecting fountain pens, I have always had my eye on pens made from exotic wood – the Graf Von Faber Castell Pernambuco, Sailor Hakone Yosegi-Zaiku, Sailor Susutake, Platinum Yakusugi, Pilot Custom 845 Ichii are just some examples.

The tray holds an Iroshizuku or Mont Blanc ink bottle. The slots are just the right length for large, standard-sized pens like a Pilot Custom 845.

It is no surprise then, that I jumped at the opportunity to add a wooden pen tray to my desk – one made of polished, lacquered mahogany and bearing my initials. Painstakingly handcrafted in Singapore by Aaron Lee of Andrew James Crafts, the mahogany hardwood tray looks perfectly at home on my desk.

An engineer working for an American multi-national, Aaron Lee is passionate about woodworking and fountain pens. After countless iterations, he has finally perfected the design.

Aaron says: “The hardest part was building rigs to hold the wood. This is important as it allows me to increase my efficiency. I had many failed pieces, and it was very sad to look at them pile up. The machining tolerance was rigid, but the challenge drove me to perfect my product.”

Simply plonk a phone onto the tray and it starts charging wirelessly.

Andrew James Crafts (which we shall refer to as AJ) was named in dedication to his two-year-old son who is afflicted with down syndrome, a genetic disorder which affects 3,000 to 5,000 children worldwide each year. Proceeds from the business will go into a trust fund, which Aaron hopes will help sustain his son’s development and therapy in future.

Aaron says: “There is a general lack of awareness of down syndrome people in Singapore. Although an average of 30 babies are born with down syndrome here each year, they are an easily forgotten group of people.”

But AJ’s pen trays are not merely fallen trees upon which your pens will rest. They also bridge the digital and analogue worlds which we traverse each day – by wirelessly powering smartphones.

Aaron says: “I have always used pen trays and stands with my pens on my desk at home and at work. Amidst the mess, I realised that the most-used item apart from my laptop, pens and paper was my smartphone, which was wired to a wall charger. It was only logical that my pen tray should house all of these items.”

No-frills, it just works.

Each AJ pen tray is fitted with a “Qi” charging module manufactured by Orico, which employs resonant inductive coupling (to an arts student like myself, it may very well be magic) to power your phone. It can supply up to 10W of power to a Samsung S8, and 7.5W of power to an iPhone 8.

“I did a lot of research and bought myself a number of wireless charging components in order to test the induction strength across different materials such as plastic, wood and metal. Plastic was too cheap and metal would affect performance. Wood was the natural solution and my phone was charging perfectly,” Aaron says.

AJ desk pen trays are made of high-quality factory offcuts, which helps save the environment and reduce costs. Aaron says that he is searching for a sustainable, fair-trade source of wood for future products.

Coming in various designs, AJ’s “Masterclass” model in Mahogany or Suar retails at S$660 | US$490 and S$499 SGD | US$370 USD respectively. The “Protégé” model in Mahogany and Suar retails at S$499 SGD | US$370 USD and S$430 SGD | US$320 USD respectively.

Simply drop Aaron an email for enquiries about availability and customisation. AJ trays are available for order online, and will also be stocked at local retailer Fook Hing Trading Co in the near future. Visit Andrew James Crafts to find out more about this beautiful yet utilitarian desk accessory.

Click to have a look at the AJ pen tray in action:

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