Esther Delignat

Company: Cycle

Twitter: @es_dlr

Education has always been front and centre of my environment. My father is a primary school teacher in rural France. I spent a lot of time as a kid doing dictations and reciting multiplication tables (am still rubbish at maths though - but I have a good memory and monkey brain, so I can learn number stuff by heart and fluke it. Pointless. But helpful).

My mother was pretty much the first graduate in her immigrant family. She adapted Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to parenting like so: ‘There are 3 things my kids will never run out of over my dead body: food, warmth, and knowledge.’

Both my parents have Luddite tendencies, so although I was always drawn to video games I never really got to indulge in them. Did I have the tech bug already? We’ll never know, but the nostalgic part of me hopes I’d have drifted towards computer science in another life. I did rebelliously buy a GameBoy SP on the black market (aka, my cousin) when I was 13. I could only afford one game, so I played all possible Pokemon Ruby scenarios every night for about a year. Until I fell asleep on it and my mum confiscated it in the morning. I did get it back though. I was 18 then.

Anyway. Instead, I spent most of my time running around my dad’s farm on made-up adventures, or fixing stuff with him. He spent the better part of 20 years renovating his farm and looking after his woodlands. So I got to hang out with cows. Chop a ton of wood. And tinker a lot. Play with a bunch of materials. Probably the reason I hold craftsmanship in such high regard. As a kid I wanted to be a watchmaker or a carpenter. Beautiful physical products are a thing of wonder (I have cried over documentaries like Jiro Dreams of Sushi).

Back in the city, the rest of my time was spent reading. Still a habit - one hour every morning with my coffee. I have a budding manga (Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, Black Lagoon, Akira) and comics/graphic novels (V for Vendetta, Tintin) collection. Real sucker for fantasy right here!

That’s probably why tech is so fascinating to me. There’s this beautiful father-son dialogue from the film Boyhood:

Son: Dad, there's no real magic in the world, right?
Dad: What do you mean?
Son: You know, like elves and stuff. People just made that up.
Dad: Oh, I don't know. I mean, what makes you think that elves are any more magical than something like a whale? You know what I mean? What if I told you a story about how underneath the ocean, there was this giant sea mammal that used sonar and sang songs and it was so big that its heart was the size of a car and you could crawl through the arteries? I mean, you'd think that was pretty magical, right?

This is what tech is to me: magic. I kind of know how it works. But I’m not a CS grad, nor en engineer. So there’s still a fantastical black box in the middle I don’t understand. It’s just sorcery to me. I’m still amazed every time my new iPhone reads this cloud of tiny dots and in 20 minutes has doppleganged all my old iPhone’s content and settings. That’s pretty magical, right?

Guess that’s it really: at the end of the day, the kid in me really just wants to help tech magicians do tech magic. And artisans build beautiful products.