Interview: Ross Baynham, Co-Founder of Instrmnt

Instrmnt's clean and minimal newsprint catalogue. Printed by Newspaper Club.

For busy designers and watchmakers Instrmnt, time is in short supply. The business hit the ground running in 2014 with a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign – overshooting a goal of £20,000 and raising £93,344 to manufacture their first (and so far most well-known) product, Instrmnt 01.

Since then, co-founders Ross Baynham and Pete Sunderland have opened a brick and mortar shop in the Trongate area of Glasgow – just around corner from our office in South Block, where they also have a studio – and collaborated on a number of non-watch-related projects, from building a city bike to designing a day bed.

They recently turned their hand to print design with a new 32-page digital mini catalogue. Like everything Instrmnt makes, it's a neat, minimal affair. Featuring photography by Alex James, it shows off Instrmnt's range of watches alongside some of the home goods they stock in their shop (like Filmore Skincare, who also put their products in newsprint!)

Instrmnt co-founder and designer Ross Baynham talks to us about the inspiration behind the company and how they're using their newspaper.

How did Instrmnt get started? What inspired you to make watches?

We started Instrmnt as graduate designers with the intention of building simple, industrial products around proven analog technology that was already on the market. That tech could be a Swiss watch movement, a rollerball cartridge, a headphone driver, anything that was respected and of high quality. We essentially wanted to make beautiful housings for things that were already great!

We debuted our 01 series watch in 2014 (using a Ronda 585 3H movement) and to many people we are now defined as a watch brand. In reality we have grown to be a studio with lots of different arms and legs. We straddle the fashion, design and tech markets fairly comfortably.

Instrmnt shop in Glasgow's Trongate

Instrmnt's clean and minimal shopfront in Glasgow's Trongate.

What's the biggest design challenge you've encountered so far?

We didn't really have much experience when we started, so every minute of the last 3 years has been a lesson. In particular the biggest learning curve has been designing at scale and the logistics of taking a product from paper and putting it into thousands of customers' hands. Our manufacturing channels span multiple countries with perhaps 100s of people working on production at any given time. To manage that effectively takes years of experience – we are still grappling!

Why did you choose newsprint for your catalogue?

Multiple reasons: we had wanted to work with Newspaper Club for long time (not just as you are based down the hallway!) because of the materiality and industrial style of the product, along with the quick turnaround times. This was meant to be a free pick-up product for the shop and in our opinion newsprint lends itself to that really well.

Instrmnt's clean and minimal newsprint catalogue. Printed by Newspaper Club.

Digital mini Instrmnt catalogue, on display at the shop in Glasgow's Trongate.

Did you solve any interesting problems in the process of making your newspaper?

It solved a few practical problems for us automatically – for example, our tight schedule meant making anything printed in time for the launch would be difficult. Newspaper print schedules are much better than other printing methods due to the nature of the product. The actual design process was extremely simple, with all the hard work happening (I assume) after we had passed over the InDesign files.

How are you using the newspapers?

The newspapers were given away in small numbers to visitors at our store, and also sent to certain customers and friends of Instrmnt further afield. The response has been superb – both to the content and the newspaper format.

Alex James, our photographer, created some beautiful images at an Edinburgh mews house we hired for the shoot. It was very much an in-house job, with our retail manager Keir McDowall acting as model.

Instrmnt co-founder Ross Baynham

Behind the scenes: shooting the Instrmnt catalogue in Edinburgh

You've also collaborated on a day bed and a city bike. What's next for Instrmnt?

We have some interesting projects bubbling away right now! Both in terms of new watches, and also an exploratory look at a couple of new product ideas. The bike and day bed were two of our favourite projects to work on – perhaps because they weren't at all commercial in nature. We will definitely be doing more things like that over the next year or two.

And finally, where is your favourite place to read a newspaper?

Our store! Where else? We have freshly roasted coffee, a comfortable day bed, and an extensive collection of the latest magazines for when you have finished reading the dailies. 39 Parnie St, Glasgow. Drop by.

Instrmnt's clean and minimal newsprint catalogue. Printed by Newspaper Club.

Digital mini Instrmnt catalogue, on display at the shop in Glasgow's Trongate.

Learn more about mini newspapers. Neatly trimmed and stapled – the sweet size for zines, catalogues and brochures!

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