Stiff, a new Swedish company, set out to make a pipe you wouldn’t be ashamed to pull out in public.

The company bills the pipe as the first ever cast in one plastic piece.

Though the bowl is briar wood, preserving that familiar tobacco taste.

The handsome pipe’s available in three colorways.

"We have worked our asses off to come up with a perfect smoking experience and air flow," cofounder Jukka Viitasara explains.

As Stiff’s site reads, "In our stressful society, half an hour of soulful pipe puffing will help you to slow down the tempo and bring a contemplative view of life."

But it’s not just about pipes. "We love the pipe-smoking philosophy," Viitasara reiterated, "but we also love the plastic material with its endless varieties and possibilities."

Pipes So Handsome You'll Wish You Were A Smoker

Stiff’s pipes give a fresh new look to an age-old bad habit.

In popular culture (and perhaps in the real world, too), tobacco pipes are typically found attached to a certain type of character, someone old and curmudgeonly, with patches on the elbows of their jacket and an unusual abundance of hair coming out of their nose or ears. As these anachronistic sorts have disappeared over the years, so, too, has pipe smoking faded into the background as a vice of choice. But some years ago, Jukka Viitasara and Karl Berglund had an idea: If you designed a new pipe—one that was both beautiful and functional—maybe you could draw in a new generation of pipe smokers, or, at the very least, give existing smokers an object they were proud to puff in public. With Stiff, their new venture, the duo has succeeded in delivering the half of that equation involving the product. The Swedish company’s plastic pipes are handsome enough to make even a concerted non-smoker reconsider.

The pipe is available in three handsome colorways: "blue and dark navy," "red and murray," and "black and pistachio." But aside from being an aesthetic improvement in the sense that they’ll match something other than a tweed suit, Stiff’s pipes are also a departure from convention in terms of materials. The designers bill the pipe as the first ever cast in one plastic piece, pairing a polished thermoplastic body with a briar wood chamber. "There are no problems with the existing wooden pipes," Viitasara told me, "except that they haven’t changed much the last two centuries. This is an industry that needs something new."

The briar bowl allows Stiff’s pipes to retain a familiar wooden taste, but the meticulously engineered plastic stem engenders superior air flow, in addition to giving the pipe its clean lines and eye-catching colors. But the process was not without its challenges—especially when it came to combining natural and synthetic materials. "What is going to happen with the plastic cast when the briar wooden core expands and shrinks?" Viitasara recalls the team wondering. "How are we going to injection mold [a thin wooden core] with an extremely high pressure without causing it to crumble? How are we going to foresee the dimensional differences in the wooden cores when they need to have an exact fit for the mold cavity?"

"We have worked our asses off to come up with a perfect smoking experience and air flow," Viitasara explains, and ultimately it took two years of testing and tweaking for Viitasara and Berglund to iron out the materials issues satisfactorily. But in a sense, that steady process reflects what the duo loves about the act of pipe smoking itself. It’s about having the chance to step back from a world awash in stimulation—taking a walk outside, perhaps, and looking at a problem for a new angle, or maybe just letting your mind wander for a bit. As Stiff’s site reads, "In our stressful society, half an hour of soulful pipe puffing will help you to slow down the tempo and bring a contemplative view of life."

But for the founding duo, the new company isn’t simply about pipes. "We love the pipe-smoking philosophy," Viitasara reiterated, "but we also love the plastic material, with its endless varieties and possibilities. When you mix those two 'worlds,' something interesting emerges. We love the clash, and we’re always gonna strive to find different approaches and try to create something unexpected."

While other products may show up a bit further down the line, the company’s currently focused on readying its pipes for wide release. That being said, a tobacco pipe that people aren’t ashamed to smoke in public could be one of the more unexpected things you could endeavor to design today.

Check out more on Stiff’s site.

[Hat tip: It’s Nice That]

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9 Comments

  • Oxman

    "typically found attached to a certain type of character, someone old
    and curmudgeonly, with patches on the elbows of their jacket and an
    unusual abundance of hair coming out of their nose or ears."   ...... WHAT?!!

    What tosh, I am young and clean shaven and friendly!

    Give me Briar or Meerschaum, they are beautiful .... not plastic - That went out in the 80's!
    Falcon pipes went through the brightly coloured lines many moons ago and although they were popular, the average pipe smoker does not want to look like he is sucking a bright lolly.

    Goodbye, I wont be a customer.

  • Neill Archer Roan

    The stereotyping observations made in this article by Mr. Vanhemert are so offensive that I find it difficult to not loathe the product because I loathe the writer's opening paragraph so much. Nose hair? Tweed? Did the FC editor remove allusions to gap-toothed and gas-passing? Why stop with a few insulting allusions when one can run the  gamut? Given the "popular culture" stereotypical connotations of coming from Alabama, one might expect a bit more sensitivity from a writer hailing from Birmingham.

    Second, given Stiff's business and targeting strategy, I expected more of FC than I got in this article in analytical terms. A brief review of the worldwide pipe market might have better informed this article. There is a thriving worldwide pipe market out there that routinely spends hundreds to thousands of dollars on a pipe. If Stiff accomplishes its goals, it is likely to face headwinds from existing customer segments because their tastes run to artisanal creations and storied old factory brands.

    One thing is certain, however. Articles like this that mock pipe-smokers do far more harm than good to Stiff's nascent enterprise.

  • Martin

    I have been in the (briar) pipe and tobacco business for 35 years, and I have seen
    this kind of gimmick come and go and I can tell you with a great degree of certitude that absolutely no material can capture the imagination of pipe smokers, and work so well with pipe tobaccos, as can briar.  The grain, the ability to sculpt beautiful
    shapes, the warmth (in all its connotations) make briar the material of choice.  This
    attempt will fall completely flat.  The traditional pipe smoker does not want "the
    perfect smoke."  It is the ongoing quest for the perfect smoke that the pipe
    buyer/collector wants.  Science is not what is wanted, but rather the unquantifiable mystery and art associated with a an organic material, briar, the fact that no two briar
    pipes can possibly be exactly alike. The people creating this pipe have exhibited their ignorance regarding the pipe smoking/collecting community.  Count their money as wasted.

  • MehWhatever

    "...handsome enough to make even a concerted non-smoker reconsider."

    I'm sorry, but that is simply terrible.

    The design might be smart and beautiful for what the device is intended to do... but anything designed either to lure people into an addictive and potentially deadly habit, or to encourage people who already have it to continue, is not "good." It's bad. 

  • Steve

    Pipe-smoking is neither very addictive nor very dangerous, because you don't inhale.  You're thinking of cigarettes.  Check your facts before putting finger to keyboard.

  • MehWhatever

     

    I see your point. But the alcohol bottle analogy is a little flawed. More apt would be comparing that to beautifully designed cigarettes/cigarette boxes (a substance/container already matched). And cigarette boxes have come under heavy fire, what with the graphic imagery being imposed on them for fear of them being too attractive (not repellant enough?). All this to say nothing of potential dangers of alcohol, granted. Caffeine I think we can agree isn't in the same camp of substances of alcohol and tobacco. 

    In any event, this is a touchy subject. But I do greatly appreciate the design: it's beautiful and functional. So major kudos to Stiff.

    I suppose my major qualm is with the sentiment of the little quote I included which was the author's, not the designer's.

  • Ben Sillence

    Right...but a beautifully designed alcohol bottle would be ok with you? 

    Sorry, but I don't see this product being about creating an addiction. It's something that promotes periods of contemplation. In the same way a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee (also addictive by the way...) would.

    I'm not a smoker, but would does the idea of ritual appeal to me? Sure it does. As does the beautiful design.