The Art of Production

The Art of Production

By Jon, Per Capita Co-founder

One of the most memorable experiences for me from our trip to Seoul last year was eating freshly steamed bread at a buzzing bakery down a little alley we discovered in Insadong. Sitting at the bar, we were able to observe the whole production process. What was clear was that these bakers treated the process as a fine work of craftsmanship, not just a means to an end. The product vision had clearly been defined by the head baker, and it was up to the team to take that idea and translate it into a beautiful outcome. We watched as each baker took great care and pride in the way each perfectly formed loaf of bread was precisely measured and sliced before being artfully wrapped in a fine linen cloth. These packages were then expertly placed, tetris-like, in a large steamer, the timer was set to the minute, and they were left to transform.

This whole process took time; I know this because we were watching on ravenous from a day of wandering around the city. When we finally received the end product and unwrapped the linen package carefully presented in a bamboo dish, it was clear that the ethos of this establishment was much deeper than to just serve bread. They served an experience; a beautiful, well-crafted product, and one that was the combination of clear vision, skilled craft, detailed curation, all driven by an overarching philosophy to provide a holistic customer experience.

The important thing is to view it as part of the creative process; to embrace it and see it as the means to crafting a beautiful end outcome.

I liken this process to that of woodworking or pottery. As a hobbyist woodworker and amateur potter (Roxanne holds the skills there), the process of making a simple object is never as simple as it seems. The idea is just the beginning; it is the attempt at translating that idea into a physical outcome, and then the long process of adjustment, rectification, and refinement, that truly tests the vision and determines the outcome.

Having made various pieces of furniture and lighting under the guidance of my father over the years, I have observed how the fabrication process is never linear. A sketch or 3D model is often just the start of a journey that requires ongoing patience and perseverance. It's the execution of the design and the trialling and testing that brings the idea to reality and demonstrates thought and rigour; it's the testing of different joints and fixing methods to find a balance between structural integrity and aesthetic intent, the trialling of various timber finishes to find the right tone, and the testing of different sand grits to express the right texture. The important thing is to view all of this as part of the creative process; to embrace it and see it as the means to crafting a beautiful end outcome. German industrial designer Dieter Rams says "care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer". It is through an engagement with the process of bringing a design to life, that we are able to truly create meaningful experiences. 


It's what happens after an idea is formulated that determines its strength.

At Per Capita, we've been learning: just as baking bread or crafting a piece of furniture requires time and depth, so too does this journey of production. It's what happens after an idea is formulated that determines its strength. It's the materials you choose, the design details, the collaboration with the manufacturer, and the refinement and quality assurance processes that you have in place during production, that all work towards a meaningful outcome.

Perhaps it's the OCD nature of myself or the attitude of precision that being a commercial litigator has instilled into Roxanne, but we knew when we started PC we would be constantly battling within ourselves to find a balance between "just getting it done" and "doing it properly". And we're getting there. We've been learning, reiterating, refining, redesigning, and implementing what we've picked up along the way, and we look forward to showing you the result of all our labour soon.

All imagery by Per Capita.

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