Aaron P. Lau, or “Stinky” as he is affectionately nicknamed, is fascinated by wood. Influenced by his grandfather, Lau would often play with hammers, nails and sandpaper, and in 2002, while working as a financial advisor and loan officer, he turned his love of the hard, fibrous, tree-based tissue into an artisan line of expertly crafted Koa pens.
As it turns out, Lau’s marketing and finance background served an important purpose, and now, his company–Lau Lau Woodworks–designs ballpoint, fountain and rollerball pens that rival any you’ll find in museum gift shops and galleries throughout the Islands.
As his business grows, Lau says his wife has become an integral part of the design team, inlaying materials from all over the world, including Persian turquoise. You can find Lau’s pens at a few places on Oahu, including Honolulu Museum of Art’s gift shop, Martin and MacArthur, Na Mea/Native Books and Under the Koa Tree, as well as Lau’s own retail shops called Simply Wood Studios.
Prices range from $33 to $350, and Lau says, “Most of my Koa wood comes from the Big Island and every pen has Koa in it, inlaid with other materials like stone, other exotic woods, handmade resins and Italian acrylics.”
So how long does it take to make one? “About four days,” he says, “but I’m usually doing production of 30-40 at a time.”
With Father’s Day around the corner, consider a practical gift with an artisan aesthetic. Lau’s pens have a highly durable finish, making them chemical and UV-protected so the wood, and the memory of the giving, never looses its iridescence.