By Alex Tapper
Design Lead at Compound
It seems unreal, but all of the people working at Refinery enjoy what they do. Some of them love their work so much they can’t stop talking about the bestselling author they interviewed on their podcast, the retreat they just led for 20 die-hard followers, or the community platform they are creating with a new social network. This quality isn’t a prerequisite on our application, it’s simply a consistent trait of our members: the space attracts those who enjoy their work.
At Refinery, we’ve set out to reclaim the term “work.” Most people have negative associations with work. I don’t envy those for whom a feeling of dread builds up on Sunday evenings knowing the alarm clock will ring in a few short hours and they will have to go into the office. We’re not sure why or how those people stick it out. Do they have a specific end goal that will make them happy? That big promotion or corner office or retirement amount?
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." - Edmund Hillary
There’s an ancient Greek myth that villainizes work. Sisyphus, a mere mortal, tricked the Gods one too many times. So he was dealt an interminable punishment: each day Sisyphus had to push a boulder up a mountain, only to watch it roll back down to the bottom each night. Sound like a familiar story? Most worker-bees can relate to this monotony: Fill out the spreadsheet, enter the data, work on the assembly line… and come back tomorrow to do the same thing again. Most interpretations of this myth are negative—and rightfully so! Who desires the fate of Sisyphus?
We’ve realized that end goals don’t make us happy. Getting to the top of the mountain isn’t the source of internal strength—or happiness. Searching for peace during the arduous climb translates into inner calm. All we can do is relish in the process, so we interpret the myth as positive.
Albert Camus illuminates this point:
“I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one's burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
So where does that leave us with the logo? Well, the boulder and the mountain are about as obvious as modernized metaphor of a greek myth can be. You’ll also notice two other qualities which aim to reinforce our mentality: (1) the boulder isn’t quite at the top yet, and (2) the whole mark is drawn from a single, unfinished line. We are always a “work in progress,” always refining our process.