Design Story: Bean Chalk

Designer Nikolas Bentel shares how he dreamed up the latest thing for art-making fun.

The objective in all of my chalk and crayon designs is to think about drawing in a unique way. Can we design objects that push people’s perception on what the correct way to draw is, or change how we learned to draw as little kids? Bean Chalk is a culmination of this idea after many iterations of crayon and chalk drawing tools designed for Areaware over the years.

As children, before we have the ability to put a coherent sentence together, we are given pencils, crayons and chalk to draw. Typically these tools are straight with a point. Is it possible the typical straight pieces of chalk and crayon that we are given as little kids have accidentally created a standardized way of thinking about how to draw? Whether our tools for drawing are a thin pencil or a block of chalk, the tool will always inform our hand and our creations. The goal of Bean Chalk is to reimagine our collective relationship with drawing and explore unique ways to make a mark.

Chalk is such a simple and humble material—not to mention, it has been around for thousands of years! To create a unique shape that has never been seen before is a tall task. My initial goal in thinking about Bean Chalk’s shape was to design a singular object that complemented its own shape and could interact with itself. What happens if we used one single shape but differentiated this shape through different colors? Can this same shape interact with itself as two parts of a whole, almost as if it is in an embrace? Can this shape create original marks? The bean shape plays along this fun line between surreal and natural. Surreal, because the beans almost look like a computer rendering when they sit on the asphalt, and natural as they resemble the common, everyday bean. This not only gives them their tongue-in-cheek name, but adds a very digestible bit of natural world to the Bean Chalk project.

Photos: Nikolas Bentel

  • Bean Chalk
  • Bean Chalk
  • Bean Chalk

Nikolas Bentel

Bean Chalk

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These are not magic beans, but the chalk masterpieces you create with them will look like straight-up wizardry. Thanks to their curly and interlocking shape, you can double 'em up to draw with two of its twelve colors at once. Or, if you're more of a minimalist, keep it simple with a single bean. On second thought, maybe they are kinda magical?