Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Calder Guitar Case Story Ch 3 Enter Superhappybunny

Emailing every design school in the US - looking for cool designers into great American icons like Airstreams, Stats etc
Marty Smith at the Art Center LA suggested Superhappybunny and Keck Craig Inc ...enter Bart Haney, SHB Vector Director and Henry Keck, KCI's Founder.

At this I was hooked on the idea of a translucent case that reveal the beauty of the guitar...(was this smart ?) Also I was moving towards making the case less organic looking and more fierce more rock n roll - so this is what I sent Bart.
seethru angry horiz

I have meetings with a bunch of heavyweight US guitar makers and such who are curious enough about my written proposal to take meetings with me. The venue is the Frankfurt Musikmesse a gigantic music products fair. I need to show them something - I land in Frankfurt - this illustration from Bart is waiting in my room.
Frankfurt ill 1

categories: early development

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Friday, May 27, 2005

The Calder Guitar Case Story Ch 2 LA and Cardboard

Now I needed a product designer to make it something that would work. Always one to go to the top I decided only IDEO the world's best know industial design company would do. Luckily Mat Hunter the designer who was sent my initial letter was in the company band and he was intrigued enough to take a meeting with this guy from Devon who didn't even have a company. Mat was great and encouraging but he pointed out that IDEO is not only the best known but also THE MOST EXPENSIVE.

Hours Googling - nothing there - all cases look the same. So to NAMM in LA the biggest music products fair in the US. No serious competion to be found - just lots of DULL CASES.

What hit me at NAMM was just how much the guitar was part of American culture. And seeing this car and this truck ...
Big truck
Great Auto

oh this Calder case must be made in America - it must be as American as a Strat or a Les Paul ... and not just made in America - DESIGNED IN AMERICA...

I had to see if this idea of mine worked in 3D - so a wet afternoon and lot of cardboard and Duck tape and... look what I made ma...
Cardbd 2
Cardbd 1


categories: early development

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Calder Guitar Case Story Ch 1 Why ? + First pic

I had some money from my time at Discovery Channel but it wasn't going to last long at the rate we spent it. A largeish house, a wife who's motto is 'more is better' and 6 year old twins are an expensive I needed to make money. All my life I'd had a passion for design and good luggage and now I could combine this with my love guitars and see if I could make a business.

[Don't make guitar cases if you want to impress people at parties...]
So far as I can recall the notion of guitar cases came from:
- my frustration with my guitar cases and gig bags - one too heavy the other too flimsy and both ugly.
- seeing lots of guys around London carrying guitars in similar cases/ bags.
- reading The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelly from IDEO.

I tried out the guitar case idea on a couple of friends - one a business guy the other a designer - hey they liked it. Maybe this wasn't just a dumb idea.

Nov 03 THE FIRST IMAGE (...I can find just now)
I started with a scale drawing of my Fender Strat hard case and simpy drew shapes inside the rectangle - and here's what I came up with Early notebook sketch profile

categories: early development

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Calder Guitar Case becomes controversial...

Thanks to Tom at the hot UK blog Music Thing and Peter at the essential Engadget the Calder Guitar Case got a lot of attention the last few days. And the comments showed that we're creating a case that raises passions. Some people hate it '...its looks like a flaccid penis...' Others like it '...I think it looks like a great case...I think it looks kinda interesting...'

I had never imagined the case could cause controvery - at first I was knocked by the force of the language now I'm excited that we now know this is something guitar players feel strongly about - blank indifference would be way worse than furious dislike. As one of my friends emailed me '...innovation is not for everyone....'

Another cool blog that took a shine to the Calder Case is Dominic Muren's thoughfulIDFuel- if you're interested in design check it out.

categories: early development

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Calder Case - the inside revealed...

We've been asked what the inside of the case is like - so here are some pixs.


The raised shapes you see are the beginnings of a suspension sytem we're developing which will hold any guitar shape in place when the case is closed. In the final version the design of this will be different to what you can see here - the gray foam will be covered in deep pile velour so your guitar has an appropriately luxurious bed to lie on. There will be a storage pocket for cables, strings, picks etc.

In the production model the case latches will be at the top so they are out of the way.

Like it? Hate it? Tell us all.

Hard Case open empty w logo

Hard Case open w PRS logo

Hard Case Profile

categories: early development

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China vs USA - is price the most important thing?

I started off this project with a dream to make a guitar case that matched the magic of great guitars - and part of that magic for me is that guitars are a powerful symbol of American culture. So I wanted the cases to be made in the US (and the UK too as that is another great home of guitars).

But when I began talking with people in the music instrument business they all said - 'you must have them made in China - you can't compete on price if you don't.' Well I was new to the business so I listened and I did some research - and sure I could have them made in China - but it somehow won't be the same thing for me. Goods in China made by people who are earning 20c and hour and have no chance of every owing what they are making just makes me feel uneasy.

I want to sell fine cases made by people paid a wage that would mean they could buy one if they so chose. And I want them made by people who will have some connection with the thing they are making. Everyone in the US and the UK is familiar with and to some degree a part of the rock n roll guitar culture thing - I find it hard to believe workers in China would have any connection at all to an ultra modern guitar case.

Also I wanted to create employment for people in the West - I am tired of seeing that pretty well every damn thing I buy is made offshore - I have a stubborn urge to buck that trend.

So if I do make the Calder cases in the US and the UK the price is going to be higher - just like US made guitars. The big question for me is will people pay the extra? And does anyone these days really care where things are made - or is everyone just price driven? Any thoughts about this?

Here's an interesting bunch of comments
from people who watched a US show about WalMart (which buys almost everything from China).

categories: early development

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Calder gig bag - thermoformed for protection

We want to create a gig bag that has all the convenience soft bags have over hard cases but at the same time offer some real protection - especially to the strap button and the neck. Here are some more tech drawings showing how might achieve this by creating a thermoformed chassis which would lie along one side of the case.

We've included the same long handle design as on the hard case which allows you to balance the case for any guitar. There will be double shoulder straps on the rear of the bag.

We have not included a huge amount of storage space as most guitarists we've talked to say they don't need loads of storage compartments - just enough for the basics. Would you agree with this?

Does this look good to you? Can see any problems we might have missed?

Gig Bag with thermoformed chassis

categories: early development

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Tech design drawings - like the look?

To give you some more views of the case currently in development here are some tech drawings - most of the lines you see will not appear on the case - they are to show where there are changes in radii and other techy things.

Does design grab you? Would you like to carry your guitar in this case? Would you like that it is so totally unlike any other case?

Can you see any problems with the shape ? Would it load easy when you're gigging?

Tell us what you thing - we want your input to make this case a real co-creation product.

Hard line draw pl and elev f r

Hard case line frm front ab f r

Hardcase line from above  behnd f r

categories: early development

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

What would make the perfect guitar case and gig-bag ?

What features would make a guitar case perfect for you? Is about weight, strength, how it carries? Is it about storage ? What do you want to carry in your case? What do you really like about your current case(s) - what do you hate about them?

What make a great gig-bag? Do you prefer a gig-bag to a hard case ? If so why? What do you like and dislike about present gig-bag?

Would you pay as much for a truly great gig-bag as you would for a hard case?
The Incase Tour Bag is $199 and has tons of storage features. Is storage what you want from a gig-bag or would prefer less storage and more protection eg for the neck and strap button area?

How about colour - is black the best colour? Would you like to be able to order a customised case?

I'd like to hear your thoughts and ideas so the creation of our cases and bags becomes a collaboration between us and you the potential users.

categories: early development

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Should guitar cases be as pretty as guitars?

Maybe guitar cases should be just dull and black...maybe they are just not important enough to be pretty and we just like having dull black boxes around us.

categories: early development

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Authenticity in design

I have a real thing about authentic design - things that are made with a real sense of purpose - made with passion. It use to be that most things were made for a purpose and design followed function. Now the world is so crazy about the idea of things being designed that often the real purose of the thing is lost in loads of computer designed sophistication.

I have tried to remain true to my ideal that I make something that was both a delight to the eye and also made good sense as a working tool.

My dream is make a classic - something that looks good now when its box new and will look just as cool in 20 years time when it has been round the block many times.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Guitar case design - do you want innovation?

I started the whole Calder Originals project because I looked at the beauty of my guitar and then looked at the ugliness of my case and gig bag. Ok so the Fender or Gibson original cases have buckets of character from years of use - but they are heavy not that well made, and don't offer the greatest protection.

Anyway I decided that I wanted to carry my guitars in something that was as beautiful as they are.

I am amazed that no-one has done this before - in almost every other area of luggage innovation abounds - cool ruck sacks - cool laptop cases - so why not guitar cases and gig bags?

Part of the reason for this blog is to get feedback on what we've done so far = guitar players tell me do you like the design?

Hard Case elevation photo

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Finding high tech materials for new guitar case design

We want the owners of Calder Originals (CO) cases to feel secure that their cases offer the best possible protection while at the same time being very light. We also want to give them the pleasure of owning a very beautiful piece of luggage.

I've spent a huge amount of time (hours of painstaking web research and many many phone calls) to find out what was on the market. I also have a big thing about environmental performance - so I wanted the materials to have as low an environmental impact as possible. Fortunately the automobile manufacturers are after the very same thing - they want lightness as this saves on fuel and they need strength to provide safety. And the arrival of stringent End of Life Regulations they need recyclable materials.

Eventually we came across two very similar materials CURV and MFT both made of polypropylene (PP) (the course fabric they make mail sacks out of) - and its 100% recyclable. These super versions of PP are made by stetching PP fabric and them baking it - the result a material that is 50% lighter than ABS (the material most commonly used for moulded guitar cases) and 33% stronger.

Is this all really nerdy stuff? Does anyone really care what the hell the cases are made of apart from me?

categories: early development

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Product design: inside the process

We decided to launch a blog in addition to our R&D website so that we could give you an unusual insight into the process of product design.

We'll be posting regular updates showing our latest designs and prototypes and describing our quest for the best possible materials.

We'll also be discussing some of the things we feel strongly about - like environmental performance, fair trade manufacturing and transparent pricing.

categories: early development

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