Project Ampersand

A collaborative project initiated by Innis & Gunn that challenged Instrmnt to create a unique product inspired by The Original barrel-aging process.

The Inspiration

Instrmnt’s ethos as a design studio is built around three key elements - narrative, material, and function - in dictating concept and form.

Over the course of this project we discovered that the approach to creating The Original holds a whole host of striking similarities. Visiting the three key sites involved in the brewing process (each distinct in locale, process, material and aesthetic) gave us the opportunity to draw further parallels between the crafts of beer making and watch making; those locations paired neatly – and organically – with the three main elements of our wristwatch.


The Strap - The Cooperage (Speyside, Scotland)

Home of the oak barrels that are used to mature The Original; barrels first made 40 or more years ago come home to the cooperage to be repaired and readied for their next chapter. There are certain parallels between this and the way a leather strap patinas over time, taking on new colour, texture and history as it ages. American White Oak is used to make nearly all of the 40 million barrels around the world, and our initial design discussions focused on using the tree to tan the strap. We partnered with a small-scale Scottish tannery to produce a vegetable tanned leather, utilising acorns as the tanning agent. This produces a light beige hue which will patina and develop over time.


The Packaging - Chip Smoker (Arobois, France)

The ‘barrel into beer’ chipping and toasting process, undertaken in France, is surprisingly sustainable. Oak barrels that are no longer able to store alcohol are broken up with only two real waste materials left over: the one-ton polypropylene sacks for storing chips, and an excess dust that is collected but too fine to use for smoking. We salvaged both of these materials – transforming them into an outer packaging solution which ties into the industrial nature of the Instrmnt brand, while also rounding up the elements of the project into a sellable, ship-able project. Most importantly, the hardwearing nature of the polypropylene sacks means that our outer packaging solution can be used time and again, with customers encouraged to return the mailer they receive,
ready for the next recipient.


The Casing - The Brewery (Perth, Scotland)

The brewery is led by functionality: readable dials and gauges, naming systems, colour coding, material choices, and carefully calculated timing and ingredient combinations all come from a technical standpoint. We chose to borrow the radially brushed stainless steel aesthetic of the mash tun’s and fermentation tanks for our casing and caseback. Our dial was informed by carefully documenting every gauge we encountered on site and breaking them down by readability, relevance and colour, prior to producing a bespoke design for our watch dial that was directly inspired by those on site. 

 - You can find out more about Project Ampersand here.