Leather iPad Pro 12.9 Flight Jacket Case - Behind the Design
The latest 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 Premium Leather iPad Pro 12.9 Flight Jacket Case.
JKD: Congratulations on finally shipping this new model.
MS: Thank you.
JKD: I know it's been a long time and I am sure it's a big relief to finally be getting these into customers hands.
MS: Jody, you have no idea. This have been a long, difficult program. I have spoken before as to the causes and the changes we have made at MacCase to insure things go more smoothly in the future.
And yes, I am extremely happy to finally be able to ship this model to customers who have waited for them. Before we get into the design, I would just like to thank everyone who has waited, not only this model, but all our leather iPad Pro 12.9 cases. The folks that have been waiting for the Flight Jackets have waited the longest so I am extremely humbled by their patience and would to sincerely thank them for it. It means a lot.
JKD: So getting into the design, you did some different things with this peice but visually, the case still looks like a Flight Jacket. Why?
MS: Why does it look like a Flight Jacket or what's different about it?
JKD: Um, both? (Laughing)
MS. Ok let's start with the visual. I learned a lot about brand character, working in the car industry and designing cars. Look at BMW. There is a linage that goes back decades. They have cues that appear in all their cars. It doesn't matter if the design is an entry level, base model, a $120,000 7 Series or a futuristic show car.
They will all have a twin kidney grill and the "Hofmeister Kink" which is the kick up in rear quarter glass. These are the design cues that relate whatever BMW does now to all the BMWs that have gone before.
Many car brands have similar design cues that visually tie what they are doing today to what they have done in the past. It helps the person viewing the design to connect the brand to what they are looking, at no matter how radical.
MS: The leather 12.9 iPad Pro Flight Jacket case, as do all the 12.9 cases, have the design cues that we have developed that speak to our brand character. This is important.
There are also functional elements that are specific to and paramount on the 12.9 cases. I wanted the new designs to be easily recognizable as MacCase Premium Leather models that have these new 12.9 functional elements incorporated into them.
JKD: Such as?
MS: All the iPad Pro 12.9 cases have a pocket for the Apple Pencil. Based on the feedback I have received from customers who have looked, our solutions for storing, transporting and protecting the Pencil are the best.
So the challenge in designing this case is to take a functional element, an important pocket, and add it to an already established visual vocabulary. The goal is to integrate this new functional element into the design so it looks like it's always been there.
A certain width was established for Pencil pocket. The same width is used on each case. An proportion is created using this width to break up the surface on other panels such as the front flap. Under the flap, this proportion is mirrored and becomes the actual pocket for the Pencil.
It's a visual cue that says "I'm for the iPad Pro" and in a subtle way, separates the leather iPad Pro 12.9 cases from the other Premium Leather models. I think the integration into the Flight Jacket design has been particularly successful because all the elements in play have a dominate vertical axis.
Again, I understand that this is a subtle different between the leather 12.9 iPad Pro Flight Jacket and say, the 13" MacBook Pro model, but it's there. The goal of the design for the leather iPad Pro 12.9 Flight Jacket case was to make it work, functionally for iPad Pro owners, and then make it look like a MacCase Premium Leather model. We built the new design around adding the functionality of protecting, storing and transporting the Pencil.
JKD: Do you think you have been successful?
MS: Well, that is what's great about our customers. If I've gotten it wrong, they'll sure let me know! (laughing). The case is testing well and the feedback on the other iPad Pro models has been outstanding. I think the Flight Jacket will become a beloved model.
JKD: So getting back to the design...You didn't push the design because?
MS: We have a lot of equity in the visual vocabulary our of designs. Most leather bags are pretty dull looking. They are either very plan and the manufacturers hope you just appreciate the fact they are made of leather, or they have lots of really old details that make them look like they are from the 1850s.
MacCase is one of the few full leather line manufactures whose products are visually interesting in an authentic way AND look like they belong in the 21th century. This is rare.
Because is very hard to do. Making the car design analogy again, it's easy to do a "me-too" design that people are familiar with and it's easy to do a really advanced design. It's extremely hard to do a production car that has the emotion of an advanced design yet still visually familiar enough to allow people to feel comfortable. That's a hard line to walk.
I could have done a crazy design for this bag. I wanted to make sure that the options were going to be the feature. In order to introduce a bag with 6 options, I wanted to make sure the customer wasn't left scratching their heads wondering why it looked so different.
JKD: Tell us about the shift in the approach to the options.
MS: We introduced our Premium Leather Briefcase, the vertical model, that featured a series of new options that allowed the customer put the bag together to meet their needs. Our MacBook Pro Flight Jackets offer a few options, but the Briefcase took this to a new level. I wanted this level of customization for the leather iPad Pro 12.9 Flight Jacket cases too.
JKD: How was this achieved?
MS: For the MacBook Pro Flight Jackets, the main flap is secured with velcro and the removable, storage Pouch is secured with a stainless steel finished clip. For the leather iPad Pro 12.9 Flight Jacket case, we flipped it around.
The main flap is secured with the same clip we use for the vertical Briefcase and the optional small and large pouches are secured with velcro. The customer can choose to add the pouches that they want to, one, none or both, whatever fits their needs. Switching how we secured the main flap made adding more options financially viable.
JKD: What have the customers been ordering?
MS: Like always, it's a mix. Some customers order all the options, both pouches, some order just the large some just the small. Almost everyone orders one or the other. People like options.
JKD: Tell us more about the Pouches. What are the differences?
MS: The Large is about 50% bigger than the Small so you can do much more with it. But, maybe it's not something each and every person wants to carry around each and every day. Hence, the small option.
They are both cut from the same hides as the main body of the bag. They are fully lined and padded and feature YKK zippers. No shortcuts. They match perfectly and feature that central stripe detail I mentioned before that tie them visually to the main body of the bag.
JKD: Can these Pouches be used on the MacCase MacBook Pro Flight Jacket models?
MS: No. Not on the current MacBook Pro Flight Jacket design. Moving forward, there is a good chance the option-rich design of the iPad Pro will be expanded across the Flight Jacket line.
JKD: What other optional besides the Pouches are available?
MS: Well we have our 2 colors: Black or Vintage. We have the 2 pouches, our shoulder pad and the backpack strap set that turns any leather iPad Pro 12.9 Flight Jacket case into a fully functioning backpack. It really changes the way you can use the bag. Everyone love the hands free feeling of a backpack and our backpack strap set has been a very successful option since day one. For the cost of the strap set, it's like getting a whole other bag. Customers love this one.
Lastly, we offer our new iPhone slip case that slides onto the shoulder strap putting the case right where you want it. So when all is said and done, the customer can put together a bag that they can really bond with, a case that will be there for them for as long as they need it.
JKD: What about protection? Is the new leather iPad Pro Flight Jacket protective?
MS: Wow Jody, you've asked me some hardball questions in the past. Why are you suddenly going so easy on me?
JKD: Aren't customers concerned about protection?
MS: You know nobody does a better job of protecting Apple portables than we do. The new leather iPad Pro 12.9 Flight Jacket case is one highly protective piece for the iPad, the Pencil and all your other items. The 12.9 is a large tablet. It's a big piece of glass and it's heavy. This case, like all our cases, does the job. The design works.
JKD: I think that's it. Thank you for your time.
MS: You're very welcome Jody.