Design and Craftmanship
In my view, design is the art of solving a practical problem; creating a solution that performs a function that improves our lives. Architecture is the art of building, and as a student I was lucky enough to be surrounded by talented thinkers and artists honing their skills in designing places for us to live and work. I chose to focus on structures that would help us play. There are enough people out there taking care of the serious stuff.
The first Tree Tent I designed, was not what you might call a total success. It was overly complicated, took a month to make, and meant standing on top of tall ladders in the wind and rain while trying to sew 6m piece of fabric together while it lashed about wildly. To be fair, I had set a pretty hard brief for myself; no poles, space for 5 people to sleep suspended in pure tension, at least 3 meters off the ground. The fact that it had a flat roof that pooled water, was also a big draw back. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Needless to say, that design didn’t make the factory floor. In fact, it took about 5 iterations more to get to the point where we knew we had something people might want to pay money for. It became known as the Stingray; fixed rainfly, no ventilation, no view, and although cosy is many ways, a bit claustrophobic. I think we made 50 of them and they are still out there somewhere… I do believe that when we hit the winning formula a few years later, we contacted those first 50 customers and sent them a real version. Always good to take care of those early adopters that help get your dreams off the ground.
The idea comes first, then you hone that until you get all the wrinkles out. It is only after that, you can start perfecting the craftsmanship. A tweak here and a tightening of the details there. It takes a while just like learning how to paint. You can’t hope to get a masterpiece out on your first try. With products, you need to send it out into the world, listen to the feedback, refine it and go again, until everyone’s experience of it is the same. So that’s what we did! We took on our customers’ feedback – good and bad - and used it to develop the range by adding new features.
When you entrust others to make your product for you, then you must trust that their craftmanship matches your vision. The design is only the start of the process. Tentsile’s handmade products are laboriously put together by our team of skilled professionals and they strive for perfection on every unit. It takes a team to bring to a product to market, just like it takes a team to build a building. After all, the architect is no good at pouring his own concrete.
All that said, great user experience is just one side of the equation. The other is our unwavering commitment to the environment. Some brands build an expiry date into their products in the knowledge that customers will have to come back and buy another. We don’t. Our products are built to last, and that means over time, less product ends up in landfill. We have customers who are still using their trusty gear 10 years on! We’ve also put in place an upcycling programme, where tents that have reached the end of their usable life can be sent to our friends at Utah State University and upcycled by their students. In return, we offer 20% off a new model.
Our gear has been tested by professional reviewers around the world, including many of the top Outdoors publications out there – including the likes of Outside Magazine & Gear Junkie – who’ve all testified to the quality of our Tree Tents and Hammocks. Our designs have won multiple awards, including accolades from ISPO, German Design Award, European Product Design, 50 Campfires, The Manual, and Women’s Health magazine to name but a few. Not to mention the 600+ reviews we’ve had! You can check those out for yourself here: https://www.tentsile.com/pages/reviews
Do you have a Tentsile product and want to tell the world how well designed it is? Then please do us a favour – leave us a review! Each and every one means the world to our small family run business, and reinforces further our belief that quality design and craftmanship is important to our customers as it is to us.