Ross Baynham and Pete Sunderland founded one of our favourite design studios, Instrmnt, back in 2014 in Glasgow. In the space of 5 years, the pair have conquered all before them by transforming traditional design objects through a refined yet industrial eye. Best known for their incredibly understated Swiss-made watches, the pair have also turned their hand to everything from limited-edition bicycles to day beds. Now, Ross and Pete are venturing into clocks – with the Instrmnt A-Clock. A dual-aspect quartz clock - entirely manufactured in Britain with a German-made movement – that is fit for the desk or the wall.

So, to celebrate another design first for Instrmnt, we sat down with co-founder Ross to ask a series of quick-fire questions that all start with ‘The first…’ from the first worst design mistake he made to the first time he was given genuinely great advice. So, scroll down to find Ross talking about his first design mistakes to the first piece of design that he fell in love with. It’s a nice reminder that we all have to start somewhere and, just sometimes, it’s worth a look back in time in order to celebrate where we are today.

The first time you realised you wanted to be a designer…

Aged around 13-14 I would spend hours designing covers for mix CD’s I had burned on the family computer. The girl I had a crush on never seemed very impressed by either their musical or visual direction, though.

The first time you met Pete…

We met in 2nd year at university when we shared a studio - I studied graphic design and he studied product design. Our first impression of each other was probably that we shared a similar view on what constituted good design.

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A-55 Clock
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A-12 Clock

The first time you experimented on design together…

We essentially started Instrmnt at our local pub fresh out of design school, making notes on the concept and sketching product ideas over a few pints.

The first time you considered yourself to be a bona fide designer…

I worked as a freelance designer in the Glasgow music scene throughout university and ended up doing some quite well publicised work, although it was probably when I got my first design job at a great studio called O Street that I felt like a real designer. Although, I had to quit 9 months later as Instrmnt could no longer be sustained as a side project, but that job meant a great deal to me.

The first worst design mistake you made…

Oh, there have been loads. At O Street I sent a job to print - on fancy card stock - with a glaring spelling mistake not long after joining.

The first design dream you realised…

Launching our own studio in a nice space with a great team was always the dream, and we’re very lucky to have done that in our early twenties.

The first time you celebrated with Instrmnt…

Within a few days of launching the 01-Series, Dezeen and MoMA called about stocking it and NY Times asked to feature us in an article about start up watch brands. I look back fondly on that time and our shocked reaction. 5 years in, that feeling of excitement can sometimes get lost.

The first thing you’d do if you were Prime Minister…

Hold a 2nd vote on EU membership. This might not age well…

The first piece of design you fell in love with…

Farnsworth House, Mies. I’m still very much in love.

The first time you were given genuinely excellent advice…

Not long after first discussing the idea for Instrmnt, I was told to make a list of 50 people who could help me – whether in manufacturing, design, finance, business, or anything else – and email all of them on the same day with an outline of what we were doing and whether they could help. The barrage of information and dialogue that set off is probably the difference between reality and pipe dream.

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A-12 Clock
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A-55 Clock

The first place you go to for inspiration is…

The Scottish mountains. Nothing is better for the mind than being 3000 ft in the clouds. Living in London for the past 12 months has only made getting up North more special.

The first record you ever bought was…

Cornershop, Brimful of Asha, aged 7 or 8. It’s still a banger.

The first time you won anything…

I received a fair few bronze medals at sports day or ‘most improved’ prizes for being distinctly average at school, but at university I got a real knack for winning: best architectural history essay got me a bottle of Moet & Chandon. I don’t know why there was a prize for this?

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A-55 Clock
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A-12 Clock

The first time you felt like you made a difference…

Hiring staff who have gone on to be irreplaceably important to the studio feels good. I have made a difference to their life and they have made a difference to mine. 

The first time that design took you out of your comfort zone…

I can’t remember the first, but it happens all the time now. Whenever we begin developing a new product, we have to become consultants on the subject – learning as much as we can through testing visuals, materials, and mechanisms, forming relationships with manufacturers and experts, often making mistakes and changing direction along the way. That is part of the enjoyment in running a product design studio that doesn’t focus on a single product category. Every day is new.

The first city you visited that truly inspired you…

Berlin, age 17, with an interest in modernism and techno. Life changing. I’m not sure how I made it home…

Shop and explore the brand-new Instrmnt A-Series clock alongside all Instrmnt watches at OPUMO.

Enjoyed this? Then read our interview with another Scottish designer, Kestin Hare, who shares his design secrets, superstitions and the pieces no wardrobe should be without.