Last week, Quirky and Fab put out a challenge to the inventor and designer communities: Create an iPhone 5 accessory design, submit it to the Quirky website, and wait a mere 24-hours while the winners are determined. Thousands of people competed for the opportunity to have their design produced by Quirky—and for sale in a Fab shop, just one week after the competition. And today, it all comes to fruition! Starting this afternoon, Fab and tech fans alike can pre-order these awesome accessories.
Fab caught up with the winning designers yesterday to learn a little bit about their design process, levels of MacGyver-ism and favorite design pieces. Read on to learn more about these folks, and then head on over to Fab to see their amazing inventions!
Would you call yourself a full-time inventor?
ADAM: I would definitely call myself an inventor. I recently co-founded a startup, Clay.com, with my boyfriend. Our company will be launching soon, and we’ve been working with Pratt Design Incubator, an incubator that helps launch and grow social/environmental enterprises—from fashion design to tech startups.
LAURA: I’ve always been creative, and I’m constantly looking for better ways to do things, so I’m not sure why I didn’t think of inventing sooner. I guess it’s not really a career path I thought of taking—Quirky has changed all that!
KEVIN: I guess this is my first invention. I’m an architect, designing at the scale of that large scale built environment. That is a kind of inventing of course, and not really too different from designing something like this. But this [project] is much more personal in a way, because each person who sees value in this artifact might choose to invite it into their personal space…I hope that people see some purpose, utility and beauty to it.
RICHARD: I am always thinking of solutions to everyday problems on a full-time basis… things that I want or need or ideas that solve a problem. I love coming up with simple solutions to common problems. My wife was so excited when she heard about Quirky on the Nate Berkus show: Finally she found a place for me and all my wacky ideas! Probably my most proud creation was a short scale guitar I built from scratch…I made a Telecaster replica that was 15% smaller than an actual Telecaster. That was pretty neat.
What’s the coolest invention you’ve ever MacGyvered?
ADAM: Before joining Pratt Design Incubator, I was at MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, studying the impact of new technologies in urban contexts. While there, I led several design projects that I’d, without a doubt, consider MacGyver-style. I helped design and create autonomous oil-absorbing robots, called Seaswarm, which skim the surface of the ocean in a coordinated swarm to clean up large oil spills. I also helped develop a free-form display called Flyfire. Imagine if the pixels of your computer screen broke away and formed images in real space; this is what Flyfire is trying to accomplish.
LAURA: My coolest invention is Cargo, a customizable shower caddy by Quirky. I was originally going to try to make a shower caddy for my son using a bucket, a drill, and some bungee cords. Instead, I submitted the idea to Quirky and they made a much nicer version for him! How did you come up with your Quirky submission?
ADAM: I was watching Mad Men with a friend when I told him about the Quirky Apple accessory competition. He suggested that I create a case for Don Draper. I instantly thought this was a brilliant idea, not only because of my love for Mid-century modern, but because I understood that to produce a beautiful product with such a rapid production goal would require getting back to the basics: form, materials, color. So, I began gathering images from some of my favorite Mid-century modern designers: Dieter Rams, Hans Olsen, Ray and Charles Eames. I made several sketches inspired by the products of these designers, and ultimately selected a design inspired by Ray and Charles Eames. I took design cues from Ray and Charles Eames’ multicolored fiberglass and wood-legged chairs and translated them into a series of beautiful Mid-century modern-inspired iphone cases. My case is designed with two interlocking pieces, one lightly-stained wood and one molded plastic, that slide together to provide a secure cover. I think Don Draper would be proud!
LAURA: I was running some ideas by my 17-year-old son, a true Apple aficionado. He thought any extras I was thinking about adding to an iPhone case were just unnecessary stuff. Since I’m a big fan of simplicity, I agreed, and thought to submit a design that is pure, simple and elegant.
KEVIN: Quirky had put out the word (I saw on Fab!) that they were looking for ideas and inventions for phones. I wondered what I would want for my phone, and my answer was some kind of holder, something that would hold it upright, up off of a desk top or bedside table, above the fray; allow it to be functional so you could open a calendar or app, etc. with one hand; and display the phone so you could see what time it was, who was calling, a favorite photo—whatever. I wanted to make a kind of pedestal to celebrate these beautiful little phone machines. Oh, and manage those pesky cords, too!
RICHARD: My original pitch was to create an elastic grid mesh on the back of the case for object retention. Elastic bands on the backside retain and carry ear buds and things. I got the idea from the ‘grid-it’ brand organizer that I carry in my Timbuk2 bag every day. I thought it would be pretty neat if something similar could be incorporated onto the back of a new iPhone 5 case—the idea was simply to create an elastic mesh or weave of bands on the back of the case for object retention.
Do you have a favorite, perfectly-designed product?
ADAM: Regarding dining tables, my boyfriend and I recently settled on an iconic Hans Olsen table where the seats tuck neatly away, under the solid round walnut veneer top. It’s perfect for a small New York apartment. It sounds ridiculous, but the table has such simple elegance, that it gives me pleasure nearly every time I walk by and catch a glance.
LAURA: My prized possession is my Diamond Chair by Harry Bertoia. This chair has been produced for 60 years and, in my opinion, there’s no better chair in the world. It’s beautiful, simple and comfortable. I love Mid-century modern design and I also love Frank Lloyd Wright. He got it right when he said, “form and function are one.”
RICHARD: I guess my favorite designs are just things that are useful, logical, and practical. Anything useful is a perfect design to me.