Brian Signs on…

Misha has asked me to write a brief introduction to myself for the “toob” blog, to describe my background and interest in the project,and after him being so nice about me and all, I thought I’d better put out my side of the story.. so here goes…

Well, firstly the basics, my name’s Brian Loudon, I trained in Product Design Engineering at Glasgow University/Art School. My working life has been pretty varied so far and I’ve worked in Architectural technology at Buro Happold, Schneider Fassaden and I have an ongoing input to projects with Arup Facade Engineers. On the product design side of my life I’ve worked mainly with Fearsomengine in the past and 4C Design presently, both Glasgow based consultancies, or independently for various clients. With 4C Design I have worked on a number of their projects ranging from a mobile spray tanning system to renewable energy systems! It’s this wide variety of influences and challenges that inspires me and keeps me going. I’ve also found that there’s an amazing thread of continuity in what’s needed in the different types of work I’ve done, balancing aesthetics, functional needs, quality and knowledge of processes and materials to create the right solution. I’d say my own forte lies in thinking in 3D, in imagining and spinning shapes around in my head then realising those in sketches and 3D computer models.

I was introduced to Misha through my work with 4C and I was instantly struck by the meticulous care in his work and his talent as a craftsman and musician. He also has a patience and determination to keep working through a problem till it’s perfect, with an admirable attention to detail. I also must admit I started to covet the instruments themselves… My own interest in traditional music is a fairly recent thing, only about 5 years ago I got the bug, starting with the cheapest of the cheap tin whistles and then veering off on a tangent to pick up the fiddle. Now a few years later I can half remember a range of tunes which I can scratch through on the fiddle! Pity my neighbours…

This growing interest in traditional music has been accompanied by an interest in music theory and the physics of instruments. The first time I cut a bit of plastic plumbing pipe and got a note out of it and then adjusted and tuned that note things all started to click together in my head, this connection between maths, music, aesthetics, proportion and actually making something by your own hand gave me an immense satisfaction.

Gradually myself and Misha began to realise our mutual interest and also our complementary skills which led Misha to invite me to get involved. It’s already been an interesting project so far and we’ve got a bit of a buzz of ideas on the go now and we’re feeling the momentum pushing us in the right direction. It’s also been amazing to see the response from the community of expert users, this is a new way of working for both of us in trying to create a more open design process and I’m genuinely intrigued to see how it evolves. One of the main things that has attracted me to the project is this community aspect, a lot of my work is generally very commercial, and can become quite corporate, abstract and faceless. The exciting opportunity in working with Misha on the toob is to create a durable and valued heirloom object that is cherished, cared for and maintained – this is not an easy thing to find in our generally disposable culture. I just hope my contributions can live up to the expectations of those who are already familiar with the quality of mk whistles.


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