Leather iPad Pro Briefcase - Behind the Exclusive 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 Briefcase.
JKD: This design is a new form factor for MacCase. Why a horizontal briefcase after all this time?
MS: I think your question is eluding to the fact that all of the cases in the Premium Leather Collection are vertically oriented and this one is not, correct?
JKD: Yes, you've made a point of not doing a traditional horizontal briefcase, and now you have. I am curious as to why?
MS: One thing that is important to remember is that MacCase started as a company that was launched on a single briefcase design. Briefcases are where we come from.
Our original case for the original iBook was radical. It was radical when it was new and to see one today, it still looks radical. The joyfulness of the design is still present. It still makes people smile. One of the radical things about it was, that while it was somewhat horizontally oriented, it was not traditional in any way. There were not any rules to break because the market didn't exist. So the first rule of this new Apple specific case market that we created was that there was not going to be any template to follow.
Quality rules. Innovation rules. Being better than what had come before rules. These were the principals then and these are still the principals that guide us today. When I sat down to design the leather iPad Pro Briefcase, I knew that we would have a Flight Jacket model for the 12.9. There was a template in place. Customers would be expecting it. I wanted something unexpected.
The Flight Jacket is a vertically oriented design that has been around since what, 2008? We have been responsible for making vertically oriented designs somewhat mainstream. They are still the minority vs. the more traditional horizontal cases, but you sure see a lot more of them now than you did back in 2008. In 2008 is was radical. Now it's just different.
When I was working on the new iPad Pro models, I did the Flight Jacket design in under an hour. I thought there was something wrong with that. The original MacCase was a radical design responding to a radical Apple laptop. I wanted at least one of our new leather iPad Pro cases to be a radical design responding to a radical iPad.
JKD: Yes but how is a horizontal design radical?
MS: When you've been zigging for almost 10 years as we have been doing with our vertically oriented designs, sometime it's radical to zag. Especially if the rest of the world has been zigging behind you. Doing a horizontal leather iPad Pro Briefcase was not something anyone expected. For us, it was a radical departure. We could have just did another 12.9 Flight Jacket and have been done with it. But you know me, I'm not really satisfied with just doing what's expected.
JKD: Now that you have been taken orders for both the 12.9 Flight Jacket and leather iPad Pro Briefcase, how has the market responded? Is there a clear sales winner?
MS: We are not a purely sales driven company. What I mean by that is that there have been plenty of MacCase models that I have brought to market that were never sales hits but I just wanted to put them into the world, to see them made real. Sometimes they found an audience and sometimes they didn't. In this particular instance, the horizontal leather iPad Pro Briefcase has outsold the 12.9 Flight Jacket by quite a large margin. Customers like the design.
JKD: Do you think because it's more familiar?
MS: Maybe. I try not to drill down too deeply on any one reason. Again, if you look at it in the context of our Premium Leather Collection, it stands out. It looks different, it looks, dare I say, radical. While people may come to MacCase for the first time looking for a case, and they see this horizontal case, to them it might look familiar. Maybe they gravitate towards it. I see a radical design within the context of our line.
I would like to think people are buying it because it truly embodies all the designs tenants of the MacCase leather collection: Timeless proportions, the highest quality hides, handmade craftsmanship. The leather iPad Pro Briefcase case was not designed in an hour. It took a long time to get all the proportions correct, all the details just right. Don't forget, is all has to function at a really high level as well.
JDK: Can you talk about the functionality? Is there something that sets the leather iPad Pro Briefcase part?
MS: The first thing anyone coming from the horizontally oriented briefcase world will notice other than the good looks, (laughing) is that it's incredibly thin. Yes, it might be horizontal in nature but it's sure not your father's briefcase.
Most traditional briefcases are horridly thick and bulky. Cumbersome. Inelegant. Yes I know people like to put things in them, but come on, it's 2016. Wasn't one of the promise of the digital revolution that everything would get smaller and more miniaturized? That we would be carrying less papers and paperwork? So why do you need a big, bulky case anymore? Our case is less than an inch thick even with stuff in it.
The next aspect of how it functions is specific to the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil. Like we have discussed before, so many of the cases designed for the iPad Pro are just bigger versions of older iPad cases with an elastic loop sewn to the side in an attempt to hold the $100 Apple Pencil. Good luck with that.
This leather iPad Pro Briefcase centers the entire exterior and under flap design around safely storing and transporting the Apple Pencil. I have yet to see another company have a line wide solution as good as ours. The customers who are purchasing our iPad Pro cases are the ones who are spending weeks doing this research, looking at what is out there. They are coming to MacCase and saying they have looked all over and our solution for the Apple Pencil is the best available.
JKD: You can see the center stripe theme in all the iPad Pro models.
MS: Yes, and this center stripe becomes the actual pocket for the Pencil when the stripe disappears under the flap of 3 of the 4 of our Pro models. This is design content. This is how to protect the Pencil in an integrated and holistic way, designed from the ground up to be part of the solution. Not added on in some last minute feeble attempt to provide a place to stick the Pencil. I think substandard solutions like the customers are reporting to me are really insulting to them. This is another reason why our iPad Pro models are selling so well. Our designs honor the customers intelligence.
JKD: So you have addressed the Pencil but are there other details that sets this design apart?
MS: Our leather briefcase, the vertical Flight Case, has come under some criticism for not having places to put specific things. Our design philosophy at MacCase is not to micro manage how our customers set up and use our products. We like to give people spaces and let them fill them as they please.
Because the leather iPad Pro Briefcase is so thin, I thought it was important to have some specific places to put things besides the Apple Pencil. So there is a place for writing pens, credit cards, the charger and cables. We still have some generic pockets where people can put what they'd like.
JKD: Do you see some of these features making their way into the Flight Case?
MS: Sure, it customers want them, we will. Our designs evolve. Adding a pen holder or business card pocket to a case design is not turning our back on what we believe.
JKD: Can I just say that we've been doing these interviews for some time and one thing that never changes is your passion for the products, their design, and your customers.
MS: Well, none of us would be here without the people who continue to support us. I am continually humbled by their loyalty and passion for what we do.
JKD: Thanks as aways for your time.
MS: What? No zinger questions this time? Whew. I got away with one here. Thanks Jody.