Universal Messenger Bags - Behind the Captivating New Design
The following is the first in a series of interviews about the story behind the design of MacCase products.
To launch the series, we are interviewing MacCase President and Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro about the company's new Universal Laptop + Tablet Messenger Bags.
JKD - What was the design brief for the new Universal Messenger Bag. What did you want to accomplish?
MS - The design had to be bold. Our older, all black Apple messenger bags, while very functional, didn't pop. It didn't grab you. The new design had to express a certain passion. People have to "get it" as soon as they see it. We have been very successful doing this with our Premium Leather models like the Flight Jacket and iPad Folios.
For the standard line, the hard part is to create products that grab you in a way that is devoid of trend. MacCase products are not trendy. Our customers tell us they like that their sleeve or briefcase looks as good now as it did 4 years ago when they bought it and that it will always look good. So the challenge becomes how do you do that, how do you make a product contemporary and bold but not trendy.
JKD - So how'd you do it?
MS - I went back to an old style of sketching, using a Tuscan Red pencil on newsprint paper. It's the way I like to draw figures and sketch cars early in the design process. It's very raw and visceral and tangible. Out of this came a new visual vocabulary that we can use across the board, that we can build a line around going forward. Part of that vocabulary includes the use of color. After looking at thousands of colors, I choose pure cyan. It pops, is gender neutral and is used in a way that makes the product very contemporary without being trendy.
JKD - But the bag is still mostly all black….
MS - Yes, but like music, painting and other arts, a little of something goes a long way if you set it up correctly. The entire front panel under the main flap is bright cyan blue. For the most part it's covered, but just barely, by the flap. You get this layering effect that as you open it up and start using it, things get more and more interesting.
JKD - Then you get to the inside and it's radical….
MS - Yes, I don't know if anyone has ever done a white interior in a laptop case before. Our BrightSight interiors were radical when we first introduced them and this carries on that tradition of making a statement with the interior of the bag. It's highly functional. There is a reason everyone has a copied it. BrightSight works. It makes the user experience better. The new cyan and white interior is the purest interior we've ever done. It's BrightSight 2.0 and it works better than ever. I have a feeling the customers are going to love it and it redefines stylish messenger bags.
JKD - What about cleaning it?
MS - The materials we use are very durable. If the white gets dirty, a little soap and water will go a long way to lifting out the dirt.
JKD - It looks and sounds like you worked really hard on how it looks, what about the functionality?
MS - We added many features that customers have been asking for over the years and combined them with all the features we know people liked from our current design, plus a few news ones we came up with along the way. It might be the most functional laptop messenger bag we've ever released in terms of what it can hold and overall usability.
JDK - Can you tell me about the back of the bag? What was the thinking that led to this design?
MS - The rear panels are always fun to do because if you are walking that "don't be trendy but make it contemporary" tightrope, the rear of the bag is where you can try some things. The first thing you notice is the branding: A new font for MacCase and it's big and bright, but it's on the back so this keeps it from being obnoxious. It's fun but hidden. It was also a way for us to tie some of the cyan to the back of the bag. It makes the design more complete, more holistic. The triangular shapes or the padding came about from a study of how horizontal oriented bags "roll" on a persons hip. The padding shapes and positions allow for cooling yet protect the contents and are comfortable to wear.
JKD - Using the word Universal in the product tittle tell me these are not just lightweight messenger bags for the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and MacBook. Are you walking away from that?
MS - No not at all. We've never done a messenger bag with laptop compartment built in. That doesn't mean we couldn't add one of our MacBook Pro sleeves to the mix and create the best all around MacBook Pro messenger bag available. Even without our sleeve, this is a perfect MacBook messenger bag and you can carry you iPad with you safely as well.
JKD - Lastly, are their features that you wanted to include but couldn't? How do you choose which details get to production and which don't?
MS - Well sure, there are always features you want that are either too expensive, or not right for the product. That's what good design is all about, making the best choices to create the best customer experience. A bunch of features do not always add up to something special. It's how the combination of the features make you feel, do they improve the quality of your day? At the end, we put together a feature set that we hope will create the most positive user experience for the customer. Whether it's a hidden pocket to store your Apple tablet that's easy to reach or a handle to make pulling it out of the overhead bin easier, all these things should over time, add up to something greater than the sum of the parts. That's always been what MacCase Design is about and that's definitely what this new messenger bag is all about.