Many of us find ourselves in the world with a certain kind of creative impulse. We imagine different ways of doing things and feel an urge to make them come true. In other words, some of us have an entrepreneurial spirit; even if we do not always know what that is about or how it's achieved. In the moments we are fully engaged with that activity, flowing from that impulse, we find us at our best; however, we can lose track of it.
And therefore, lose track of ourselves.
For some of us, that has been the case. We came to feel disengaged in different ways, dispassionate about our jobs or businesses. For many, engagement is not simply a choice, for others, it can feel like being trapped without much will to escape. These feelings led us to an existential space for reflection, to ask what is work and entrepreneurship about? What kind of human beings are we when living disengaged? How about when we are engaged? What world do we want to create for ourselves?
Therefore, Normalem can be called an anthropological journey. Anthropological in the sense that the goal is to understand better who we are, why we are, and who we can be. It is a journey because we are discovering how to proceed while proceeding. In consequence, we still cannot really explain the fundamentals of what we are doing.
Richard Sennett’s research on today’s work culture has directed our attention to the assumptions and implicit understandings that guides our working, and its costs. This culture is based and shaped by the way it is understood that business should be done. One idea guides many businesses: high speed and acceleration. This view, while it may sound natural for a competitive context, tends to relegate quality and ethical questions regarding products to the background. However, as we are our ethical character and the expression of our entrepreneurial spirit, we relegate ourselves and the others. So, it becomes inevitable to ask if it is true that a human world, built for us, can only be based on competition.
We want to imagine a way of doing business that brings products and people back to the center, one that provides us with fulfilling and meaningful lives. But if we are being honest, we do not know how to achieve it. That is why we decided to begin this journey.
While reflecting on what a product is and its relationship to its maker, we wondered what was a product about? Not the marketing concept but its significance to both the consumer and its maker. It seems that the product or service gives a meaningful identity to each of them, expressed in a common world. Then, we wanted to explore this insight, taking t-shirts as valuable not for their “dressing functional features”, but for their communal function. In other words: to treat t-shirts as symbols of an ongoing conversation between persons that want to understand better how work shapes us.