Insta feed in need of some fresh inspiration? Step right this way, as we chat to one half of industrial designers Discommon, who’ve been making waves in just about every industry of late, with their collaborations and creations. Their promise: “work with us and we will make exactly what is in your head.”
NAME: Neil Ferrier
OCCUPATION: Chief Conspirator at Discommon, where his background in mechanical engineering and product development is put to good use on all manner of creative projects.
How did you end up making stuff?
It was all Oakley’s fault. I worked there in the advanced product development team right after college, and I was thrown in at the deep deep end, doing projects for the US special forces. It was terrifying at first, but also so liberating. Oakley was a baptism in “do it right or don’t do it” – a mantra I feel is sorely lacking in today’s often fast and cheap society. There was always a passion for creating in me, but Oakley basically let that fire loose.
When I started my consulting firm, Discommon Concepts, my partner [Jeremy Hadden, Chief Technical Disruptor] and I realised we didn’t want to always be talking about ‘cool’ past projects, so we started Discommon Goods to challenge ourselves with new materials and process, re-creating traditional items in our own ways. It’s gone on to act as a nice calling card for our consulting work. I wake up each day waiting for someone to laugh at us and say, “That’s not a real job, you guys are having too much fun”, but it seems to keep growing and I guess that’s the point – if you love what you do, it doesn’t have to feel like a chore.
Work-wise, what’s your focus at the moment?
Most of our work is silent consulting work, and some of it really is boring, but right now we have an absolute doozy of a project to do with whisky and watches, which has taken us three years. We have a travel weekender bag that’s nearing completion [check], which has secret storage for watches in it. Finally we won’t be able to sell it, but we did a CT scan on an Autavia body and rebuilt the CAD for it, and we’re going to machine a few bodies in titanium with some racing-inspired modification… for personal use only!
You clearly like watches. How did you get into them?
I still have my grandfather’s Heuer Monaco that was given to me on my 18th birthday – that’s what started things off for me. There’s a distinct lack of modern watches in my collection, and I think the reason is two-fold. I love bringing old things back to life – it’s so fun for me to see old things look brand new and timeless again. And secondly, I look at all of these as appreciating assets and it justifies the expenditure in my head and makes it a little less scary!
What’s your daily watch?
Probably my most common go-to is a Heuer 11630 GMT Autavia. I travel a lot and genuinely get use from the GMT function. It has a remarkably good original bezel, and I love looking at the colours.
I have a Heuer ‘problem’ and love searching weird corners of the internet for them. I found this, misnamed at a pawn shop in Philadelphia. The pictures were terrible, but I took a leap. Abel Court in Belgium restored the case and dial for me and it looks incredible.
What else is in your collection?
*73653 manual wind Carrera
*‘Discautavia’ prototype – the black Autavia restoration we made five of
*A few Viceroys (projects)
*Gruen World timer (such a cool little watch for the price),
*Autodromo Group B Evo (we machined the cases for these)
*3rd Execution Autavia 2446 Rindt from its original owner.
*A pre-moon Speedmaster
*A Cal 15 blue dial Heuer Calculator – and yes, I did google how on earth to use it and I did learn.
What’s your daily ride?
My car is the same car my dad had growing up in Scotland: a BMW Z3 M Coupe, the ‘clown shoe’. His was destroyed by the BMW dealership in a freak accident before I ever got to properly drive it, so I hunted one down a few years ago.
Sometimes, if I have the courage, I ride my old Honda SL350 – a death trap of a cafe racer that I swapped for a six-pack of beer and a pair of Oakley frogskins a few years back. It hadn’t run in 32 years, and I did a painstaking nut and bolt restoration/modification over the course of two years, and that was the bike I learned to ride on. It wasn’t the best idea. The first time, the speedo and the shifter peg fell off. But I’m still alive.
How do you unwind?
My mountain bike is my sanctuary. I’m lucky to be able to ride out my front door and disappear off into nearby trails. Other than that, I’m not so good at switching my brain off.