Products Have Souls

Posted by Enrique Muyshondt on

Not in the literal sense, of course, but there is more to a product than its mere existence. There’s a certain elegance in the creation of something good, a certain care and quality, that goes into a creative effort that gives life to a work well made.

There is nothing quite like creating a product – to have an idea in your head; this abstract concept rolling around that over weeks and months that becomes a clearer and clearer idea; that starts taking physical form in sketches, drawings, and revisions; that progressively becomes thought expressed rigorously such that it is able to take physical form in front of you.

This is a special kind of creative outlet; giving actual, physical expression to ideas. To do this well, I feel, requires a great deal of respect for the process of creating something – to do otherwise is to fail. By this I mean is that what a person chooses to create, and the manner in which they create it is very much indicative of how they approach life – as a physical expression of an idea, it is a window into the mind of the designer, an analogue into their mind to be able to see for yourself what was, once, truly only inside another’s head.

If a product is made poorly, it reflects directly on the person who designed it.

If a product is made well, it shows the highest order of creative power a human is capable of.

When I design something, I spend a great deal of time thinking, often many months, before I ever sketch any designs. Only after so long a time does an idea have enough form inside my head to be able to be expressed even crudely visually. From that point there’s progressive refinement through sketches that moves quickly to CAD (computer aided design) software where the idea finally takes a three-dimensional form and starts being polished. If I’m lucky, I get the basic design right the first time. If I’m not, the design is scrapped, and I start over again, most often from scratch, before a final mechanical form is settled on.

But, there’s more to this than simply this “crude matter” (to channel Yoda). It’s more than just physical expression of an idea in my head, even though that in and of itself is compelling. The process that goes into it is far more intensive than that. Those months spent thinking draw on a lifetime’s worth of experiences, both those related directly to over a decade’s work designing electric torches, but also to a breadth of tangential experiences and influences that directly color the designs that I ultimately come up with.

There are trips around the world that have given me exposure to a variety of designs, modern and ancient, from cultures that have created distinct means of expression for themselves unique from all others. Beautiful, ornate items, and simple, subtle shapes used to create a breadth of things throughout history that have given expression to the thoughts and minds of others and served as a spark to create something new.

When I am designing something I might be thinking about the tessellations of a roofline from Tuscany, or a machine that fabricates pucks, or the design of a cathedral window, or natural shapes in plants, mountains, or glaciers, and taking elements from these pieces, and applying them to my work. (And I have, in fact, thought about all these things specifically when coming up with new ways of doing things)

The point being that, in effect, each design choice that is made gives to you a tiny piece of my life that allowed for that choice to have been made to begin with – the ultimately effect of my experiences pulled together to make the item you now hold.

Thusly, I try to design things that are worthy of this exercise, and worthy of your attention. I try to come up with new forms, and new ways of doing things; to make products that have details done right even where no one is looking, simply because it’s the right way of doing things. I work hard with my suppliers to execute on my designs in such a way that it meets my standards – that the product is crafted in such a way that it’s deserving of being created; that every material and component is properly selected and handled; that every cut is done as I intended it; that the finish and quality are done in such a way that most directly replicates the thought that spawned the item’s creation.

This applies to the item itself, to its packaging, it’s shipping box, the artwork, the website, and everything else that relates to it as well; none of it is by chance, all of it was designed to my direct specification, and none of it existed before it was made specifically for its project.

I’m an electrical engineer by training; I have created actual, functional components in silicon and designed complex electromechanical systems from scratch as my trade.

When I design a product, it becomes my direct responsibility to know how to make things – to understand how they work, and strive to create the best possible result. I understand how every electrical system in my designs works on an atomic level, because I have actually built functional semiconductors by hand and studied the physics behind them extensively in my free time and during my schooling. I thusly have a great respect for every component used to take electricity and turn it into light, from the constituent parts of my light engines through to the LED itself.

With all of this in mind, a product that is made well becomes the sum of the life of the person who brought it into being, and also brings together tiny pieces of every other person who worked towards its creation – in the engineers who designed each component that goes into the light engine; in the people who manufacture those components; in the machinists who make my parts; the people who forge the metals I use; those who mine the ores; those who make the boxes; those who ship every piece every step of the way through production and unto you across the world; And so on into each individual involved in the creation of every part of production. This is more than merely a simple labor to be forgotten, or the simple sum of parts – it is the culmination of a small microcosm of lives that have gone through a truly extraordinary degree of effort to create something where once there was nothing, bringing together the best from the world over to properly bring to life an idea and create a superior product.

I am greatly honored by each of you who have chosen a Muyshondt product to help light your path, and am looking forward to having the opportunity to share more of my designs and products with you – both electric torches and otherwise – during 2017 and onwards.

Warmest wishes,

Enrique

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