Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Categorised Posts

To make accessing the archive easier I've created a Categorised Posts sidebar. Each category link takes you to page where all the post titles in that category are listed in chronological order.

(Thanks to Robin at Theatre of Noise for the post describing this powerful and elegant method of creating categories.)

Early Development Ch 1-23
Final Design Development
Thoughts on Design
Objects that Inspire
Electric Guitar Case
Classical Guitar Case
Violin Case
Laptop Case



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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

New look website and blog

In preparation for our launch we've redesigned the Calder website and changed the colours on the blog.

Still in Beta phase, the website currently contains information about the team of craftsmen and women who work with me, technical data on carbon fiber, and acknowledgements to the people that have helped me in the development process.

We'll put up the final website when we launch the full range of cases. We aim to be ready this spring.


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More thoughts on design

My original design began simply - on a scale drawing of a rectangular guitar case I sketched shapes that would fit round a guitar and be no larger than the original case.

I drew the profile that became the basis of our work in about 5 minutes. (I used to worry this should have taken longer - I should have sweated hours before arriving at this point. Three years down the line I see that shape as a gift - but a gift that I had to do a lot of work on.)

As we approach launch I've been looking for ways to explain the design decisions I've taken over the three years. Though I'm a long way from formulating my own words I've found a couple of writers who have ideas that resonate with my own.

Paola Antonelli, Curator of Architecture and Design at MOMA writes
"When an object is well seems to glow from the inside, proud of how well it performs the function it was intended for..." and
"A good designer makes us think everything is simple, as if the new objects were already in the air." Introduction to Humble Masterpieces, 100 Everyday Marvels of Design.

The second sentence ties in closely with my ambition to create designs which look as if they have always existed and will always exist - and we just happened to have discovered them now.

Alain de Botton in his book The Architecture of Happiness explores the emotional impact of architecture (and design).

"We can understand, and...explain. why we believe a [design] to be desirable or offensive on the basis of the things that it talks to us about."

"What we search for in a work of [design] is far from what we search for in a friend. The objects we describe as beautiful are versions of the people we love."

I like this notion - and I'd hope people looking at my designs might see in them characteristics they like in people. For example the simple curves and flat un-adorned surfaces - intelligent, calm, and trustworthy. The carbon fiber, leather and steel speaking of strength and reliability. The richness of brown leather - sophistication, and the irridescent silk velvet - a touch of hedonism.

And de Botton suggests that just as we are attracted to people who have variety and contradictions in their character so we take pleasure from designs which combine opposites . "...including the old and the new, the natural and the manmade, the luxurious and the modest, the masculine and the feminine."

I'm hoping that people will share my enjoyment of the contrasts in our cases - the the modernity of the shape/carbon fiber and the traditional stitched leather. The plain lines and dark brown leather exterior contrasting with luscious richness of the velvet interior.

On elegance "For us to deem a is not enough that it look simple: we must feel that the simplicity...has been hard won...we admire simple works that we intuit would, without immense effort have appeared very complicated."

The simplicity of our cases has been hard to achieve - we've constantly pared things back the bone, revised and reviewed. Seeking for a look that seemed effortless - as if it were the only solution possible - this has been the most enormously demanding task.

categories: thoughts on design

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Utility, simplicity, grace - inspirational objects

In preparation for our launch I've been working on ways to explain my approach to design. As part of the process I'm posting photos of some of the objects that are most important to me.

The Fender Telecaster - a block of machine carved wood - plain, unadorned, tough. To my eye the slab-simplicity of the Tele is a way more timeless and powerful symbol of rock music than the curvy Strat which followed.


Zippo lighters are another great example of totally simple engineering. A plain metal box with perfect proportions, robust construction and evoking images of tough private eyes and GI's. I especially like the way the brass models age.

Old Zippo brass.jpg

The 2CV (of which I am a proud owner) was designed for French farmers. A tough little utility vehicle created with Gallic flair and intelligence. Great to drive, cheap to run, easy to repair and full of clever details - these cars go on for ever.

2cv design photo.jpg

Some unknown person took a tin can -bent it a bit, put a handle on it, painted it green and created this vase. To recycle a mundane object into such a pleasing thing is to me a little piece of genius - giving me a huge amount of pleasure.


I inherited this glass and don't know its origins - my guess is it is French circa 1930. The glass is terrifyingly thin and an exquisite shade of green. The shape is a unique and perfect expression of a traditional design - another little piece of genius.

French glass cropped

So, a couple of tough American icons, a symbol of French quirkyness, a piece of English DIY in tin and a very fragile glass -
all combine utility, simplicity and grace. By 'grace' I mean they represent some happy coming together of shape and function in a way that gives me deep satisfaction.

I'll be developing these thoughts next week.

categories: thoughts on design

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