Developing a better desk light
In 2003, BALMUDA released the X-Base notebook cooling stand. The first orders came in less than an hour after it was featured on the Mac news sites.
Buoyed by this unexpectedly warm response, Gen began development on other products for the computer and desktop environment.
Through understanding of product composition and material characteristics, he decided, he would create quality products. Holding fast to this approach, he spent most of his days in the workshop, seeking through trial and error to resolve new challenges.
As he created and tested his products, they rose in precision. He devoted time to perfecting products that nobody else had come up with. To this day, the BALMUDA way is built on the foundations he laid down in that period.
The next product to emerge from this hands-on development process was the Highwire, an LED desk light released in 2004. It was a handmade product, with Gen manually assembling the parts he had commissioned from another factory, and even bending individual pipes to create the exquisitely curved column shape he insisted on.
Determined to create beautiful products
The period in which Gen was engrossed in the development of the Highwire coincided with the appearance of white LED lights on the market. At that time, LEDs struggled to produce sufficient brightness. By machining entire light-source components out of aluminum blocks and fitting them with white high-power LEDs of high luminance, Gen was able to increase heat dissipation and resolve this problem.
At the same time, the resulting product was a 12-watt desk light boasting a 50,000-hour working life and a form factor specifically designed for beauty.
BALMUDA’s next desk light was the Airline, released in 2008. This was the first product the company mass-produced using molds. It was more expensive than the average desk light, but interior design shops carried it, and acclaim from experts helped it make a strong start.
Even at this point, BALMUDA had just three employees, including Gen himself. There was immense delight and satisfaction in being such a small company that had nevertheless successfully created exactly the “ultimate desk light” Gen had sought. “We felt the joy of knowing that products we created were attracting the interest of and being used by other people,” he recalls.
But things would soon change.
By the end of 2008, ripples from the Global Financial Crisis had reached even the worlds of interior design and lighting, and BALMUDA was not immune to their effects. The company fax machine, used to take orders, was silent for weeks—so long that Gen even checked to make sure it wasn’t broken.
“I began to strongly feel a pure desire for more people to use BALMUDA products. But I could not expect people to use my products unless they actually needed them. I realized that I would have to make something needed by a wide range of people.”
If the company had to fall, Gen decided, it could at least fall forward.