Discontentment and moaning are sometimes seen as British past-times. I often find myself in these states when it comes to disappointing products, but there comes a point where I feel the need to do something about it. (Constructive discontent is a subject close to my heart and no one talks about it more eloquently than Don Norman in the Design of Everyday Things.)
This is how the seed was sown that was to became the Ockham Razor. I didn't particularly care about shaving any more than the next man (I do now), but when I struggled to find a beautiful, simple razor that didn't cost the earth, it frustrated me. It's a funny product category. At one end of the scale you can buy a pack of five disposable razors for 30p that pretty much do the job, but don't look particularly stylish. At the other end you can spend up to £100 on a chrome-handled razor that feels like a solid, well-made tool, but they usually look like mock-Victorian bath-ware. (This isn't really comparable, but you can burn $100,000 on a razor if you have more money than sense.)
Typically, people spend a few pounds on cartridge-based razors which work well and for which it's easy to replace the blades. But as far as I'm concerned these razors are universally over-engineered, ugly things. You can't get Wi-Fi enabled razors yet, but I don't think you'll have to wait long.
Good design needn't be expensive. In fact, in the case of the razor, bad design can cost more. Most regular razors are made up of all sorts of different parts of metal, plastic and rubber, not to mention the packaging. Leaving aesthetics to one side, this not only adds unnecessary complexity and therefore cost to the manufacturing, it also makes them virtually un-recyclable.
I searched high and low, expecting that I'd find that someone had beaten me to it and made a simple, beautiful, affordable razor. I didn't.
So I began to think about it more seriously and to consider what the most basic form of a razor could be. At these times, I find a great test is to ask the question 'how would a five-year-old draw this thing'. More often than not that provides a good starting point from which you can move forward, only adding features and complexity where absolutely necessary.
I've since shaved with more types of razor than I can count. I've cut razors up and glued them back together with bits of metal and plastic to try and create suitable prototypes. Once the basic form took shape, I was fortunate enough to persuade some friends to get involved and the skills of Mat, Nick and Bec have taken the idea beyond scribbled thoughts inside my head to a proper specified design, which we have 3D printed and iterated to a point where we can actually get this thing made.
Even though we're making a product cast out of molten metal, we would really struggle to do it without the help of the internet. Even when members of the team are miles away from each other, technology has allowed us to create and share ideas, drawings and CAD models, and then to very quickly turn them into physical prototypes via 3DHubs and the magic of 3D printing. Then there's this website, which you're reading thanks to Squarespace and despite my complete lack of web coding skills. And last but not least there is the internet crowd and our plan to launch the Ockham Razor on Kickstarter, an incredible opportunity.
There have been no tears - yet. But I have literally given my blood and sweat to the project so far and, with your support and help, I'd like to see if we can turn my discontentment into something great.