Universal Laptop Backpack - Behind the Stealthy New Design
Second in a series of interviews about the story behind the design of MacCase products.
For this interview, we are again speaking to MacCase President and Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro about the company's new Universal Laptop Backpack.
JKD - What was the design brief for the new Universal Laptop Backpack?. What did you want to accomplish?
MS - The backpack market has changed so much. With advent of smaller, lighter, thinner devices, MacCase laptop backpack design needed to change. The 17" MacBook Pro is long gone. We loved the 17" and did many form factors for those customers. But as stated, the market is now about phones, tablets and lightweight, thin laptops. Our job is to figure out the best way to protect and transport this new generation of smaller, lighter devices. What are the newest materials we can use to make it light and add function? How big or small should it be? What about security and comfort? What we set out to accomplish, and I know it sounds lofty, was to design the best small laptop backpack for the price. You need to address so many issues with a lightweight laptop backpack design and this little bag does an incredible amount of things really well for a very reasonable, sub-$60 price.
JKD - So how'd you do it?
MS - We started with a form factor that is reflective of where we see the market going. The overall size is about 4/5 ths the size of a "normal" backpack. Not only does it make for a very compact form, but it's incredibly light weight as well. This might be the best lightweight laptop backpack out right now. At the same time, the customer can still safely store both a 15.4 laptop and any tablet inside. This gives the bag a very broad appeal. Another thing we addressed was security. So many laptop backpacks look like laptop backpacks. They send a clear message that you're carrying a computer and that becomes a risk. We wanted to take protection and security to a new level. The Universal Laptop Backpack doesn't look like a laptop backpack. It's visually too small. The design deters theft and lowers your risk of being a target.
Moreover, there are reflective inserts on each side so you can been seen at night crossing a street. This is important if your riding a bike or motorcycle after dark. So yes, the backpack is padded and will hold your computer and tablet and phone. We're going beyond that. I wanted a design that showed that we care about our customers, about keeping them and their stuff stuff safe. That's taking this type of general use backpack design to a whole new and different level.
JKD - The finished product looks like the sibling to your new Messenger Bag. Why the similarity?
MS - They were designed at the same time. We ran the Messenger program and the new lightweight laptop backpack program simultaneously. We wanted a clean break from the older MacCase designs. The new lightweight laptop backpack reflects the new black - white - cyan blue visual vocabulary. They share materials, construction and details like our new molded rubber zipper pulls. It's a smart, cost effective way to design products and it allows us to use much high quality fabrics, foams and hardware and meet our price point. Another thing that was important to establish with both models was that they are both universal. Our older messenger bag and laptop backpack are Apple specific. These are for everyone. Anyone can put any hardware in them and they work great. We wanted to launch them as a pair, as a symbol of a new direction for our standard line. That's not to say the new model is not the perfect 13 inch MacBook Pro backpack because it's in excellent one, especially if you have an iPad to carry along with it.
JKD - Again, like the Messenger, the interior is radical.
MS - I love the interior of this backpack. The BrightSight 2.0 works so well. A 13" MacBook or MacBook Air and iPad look great inside and the fabrics are easy to clean. The whole thing looks very upscale, expensive and very futuristic. When I'm out a some big box store and check out their bag selection, the black interiors look incredibly dated to me. This is the future and for under $60 you can have it right now. I don't know if anyone has ever done a white interior in a laptop backpack before. Our BrightSight interiors were radical when we first introduced them. This carries on the tradition of making a statement with the interior of the bag. It's highly functional. BrightSight works. It makes the user experience better. The new cyan and white interior is the purest interior we've ever done. The exterior of the laptop backpack is a bit more conservative than the Messenger. We wanted the backpack to be a bit more stealthy.
JKD - How did you get so much functionality in such a small form?
MS - The way the surfaces are handled makes the volume appear much smaller than it actually is. I have been working with smaller forms for some time. Our Premium Leather iPad Flight Jacket was an exercise in how to make something small yet functional. When looking at lightweight laptop backpacks, it was just a matter of looking at what the customers were going to need the bag to do and what I wanted it to do, and put all those ideas into it. I think customers we be extremely surprised by just how much they are going to be able to cram in there. There are plenty of pockets inside and out. Like all MacCase designs, we tend not to over design the storage. So many soft good products design a place for every paper clip. That kind of central planning of the space is very Orwellian to me. I like to give customers more general spaces and the freedom to do what they want with them.
JDK - Can you tell me about the rear of the bag? What was the thinking that led to this design?
MS - Many companies treat the rear panel as an afterthought. MacCase has always spent vast amounts of time developing the rear panel to manage air flow and provide comfort. On this bag, we designed an "X" brace padding configuration which allows vertical air flow to keep you cool but more importantly it removes any pressure on your spine. My chiropractor likes this feature a lot. Customers will to. I took the opportunity to use the rear panel to highlight our new MacCase logo and add some color to the exterior. If you don't like color or big graphics, it's OK because no one can see the logo or color when it's on. Again, it works for everyone.
JKD - Lastly, how do you think the market, the customers will respond to the new design?
MS - It depends on what they are looking for. We feel we have done the research to move forward with a new design that reflects the values of the market: Lightweight, compact, safe, secure, protected, comfortable, functional and finally universality. Fortunately for us, those are our values too. We've been lucky that way. In essence, we are the customer. Everyone at MacCase uses one of these and so do their kids. It's called the Universal Laptop Backpack not only because it'll carry any type of hardware, but because it should be universal in it's appeal. If you're between 10 and 60 and need a bag to get you back and forth to school or work safely, want it to be lightweight and compact, don't want to look like you are going camping, want it to be comfortable, protect your stuff and want it to look cool, our new laptop backpack is your bag.
Order the new MacCase Universal Laptop Backpack now!