Friday, June 03, 2005

The Calder Guitar Case Story Ch 5 Nashville Lights Pt1

June 04

By the time Michael Mailling came on board as my designer I had little over a month before the Nashville NAMM Summer Show. I'd told prospective distributors that I would show them a prototype at the show...we needed speed. Michael assured me this was typical of the deadlines he worked to.

Big Decision One - drop my beloved translucent case idea. Finding tough translucent materials turned out a nighmare and some distributors had suggested that the last thing guitarists want is to let people see the precious contents of their cases. In the end I was fine with dropping this plan - I was learning - product design demands dreams be balanced with practicality.

Big Decision Two - we have a gig bag as well as hard case. Feedback was that we'd sell more of these than hard cases. The gig bag to have the same profile as the hard case - a key element of the Calder Original brand.

We got very juiced up about making a truly high tech gig bag. Michael suggested removable battens (as in a wind surfer sails) to force a concave curve in bag and offer better protection. Matt Wiessler my graphic designer friend said he'd seen a bag with a giant zip 2 inches wide which sounded incredibly cool so that went on the wish list.

There was no way we could make a hard case prototype in time so we opted to prototype the gig bag and take CAD images of the hard case.

Neoprene was chosen for the gig bag - an in-vogue hi-tech material available in loads of colours. We knew a number of companies making wet suits and we were confident [ha!] they could make a prototype quickly.

Michael had loads of ideas about the hard case - how it could open like a zippo lighter - but I'd learned from my experience with Bart that I wanted to stick with my original design. By now I had hear often enough how conservative guitarist can be and it was enough that we had a radical new shape for a case - more would be too much.

July 04
Very close to Nashville - still no prototype - still no images of the case - my anxiety levels slde up to red. Michael reassured me ... it was all going to be fine....

July 18th
I leave for Nashville tomorrow - still nothing. Michael '...some problems with the wet suit company but the prototype will be ready...don't worry.'

July 19th
Half an hour before I am due to leave Michael arrives He's tired but full of enthusiasm... however there are just few things that have to be done to the prototype...he struggles to fit the handle into the bag and hands me some neoprene glue just in case any of the stiching comes undone. He thrusts a bunch of hard case sketches in my hand...I get in the car.

On the way to the station my wife asks me why I am so quiet...'that bag I said is a massively too big and looks horrible...' I decide not to take the bag prototype - it would do more harm than good. On the train I look at the sketches Michael gave me...oh oh oh ...too fussy, too designed, too many extraneous features. I call Michael and tell him keep it simple.

July 20th
Fly to Nashville without a protoype and without any images to show...nerve wracking - just a little. Went into what I called a 'state of trust'...just believing that everything would turn out for the best. Not sure what that 'best' might be...Hell what else could I do ? Apart from drink a great deal on the flight.

July 21st
A flurry of phone calls and emails - some images started to come in - maybe it was going to be ok.
My first meeting was at mid-day local time. At 11.50 a PDF presentation hit my inbox - here's a couple of the images

CAD purple profile

Purple CAD open

red CAD open

categories: early development

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