Design Q&A with Speck Designers (Make My Case Competition)


We recently did an Instagram Live Q&A event with Speck Designers Bora and Lizzie to answer top questions from our Instagram community on designing a phone case. Over 100+ questions were submitted -- here we answered the most popular ones. Don’t forget to enter your original design to the Make My Case Competition by June 26, 2019.

Are there certain phone case attributes that tend to do well in the market?

Every individual has their own preference when it comes to the specific attributions of the case that they choose. Some people prefer fashion, some prefer sleek designs, some want to show off the phone that is inside the case, and some are looking for functionality. For most people, they are searching for a few of those factors, but personally prioritize what matters to them most, for infinite reasons. As an accessory that we carry with us every day, a phone case can truly make a statement about that person's style/personality.

At Speck, we create award-winning cases that are designed for impact, by delivering a balance of artful design and military-grade protection, for a difference you can see and feel. Our roots are in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the intersection of design and technology, inspiring us to craft masterfully engineered products. We believe that excellence is in the details, which is why we create cases that enable you to go to more places and enjoy more from your mobile devices. (Answered by Bora, Lizzie, and Rachele)

How do you know what people (or customers) want in a design?

We really dive into our research on a consistent (oftentimes daily) basis. Focusing in on what people are currently interested in, trends that are starting to form, or trends of the past (ex. looks from the '80s) that are coming back in nostalgic ways or being reinvented. This research presents itself in many forms...from the literal side: like case studies and/or statistics, or looking closely at other brands to see what designs perform best for them, and then digging deeper to understand why. This research can also come in the form of varying trend reports: current trends and their audiences, big lifestyle & entertainment moments, and to take it even further: what is predicted to be upcoming trends. These can be anything from color trends to materials, to looks/feels that are tied to future pop culture moments. There is endless information out there!

But don't just stop there. Getting outside of the research realm and immersing yourself in various environments, cultures, and community styles. Simply observing the people around you, what they carry with them or how they accessorize themselves, what their personal style is, and what that can say about a person that could help you identify things that they find important - but also, things that they might want or need that they are just waiting to be invented! Also, don't be afraid to ask around. Insight from your friends, family, peers, teachers, etc. is all valuable information to have. (Answered by Collective Panel)

Are there certain colors you would suggest not using?

This is a tough one in the sense that it is always wise to stay up-to-date with what is trending, what looks best on certain materials vs. others, etc. But at the same time, we encourage exploration, imagination, and staying true to who you are as a designer. Research in any medium allows you to be a more informed and holistic artist, but your unique perspective has every potential to create something that people haven't yet realized they want. As you experiment, learn, and grow in your trade, you will learn how different colors translate on different materials, or how different materials can interact with them. But that comes with time, experimentation, and learning. (Answered by Collective Panel)

What resources do you recommend for an aspiring designer?

Anything you can get your hands on! Read as much as you can. Seriously. Play around with materials of all sorts, to see what you can create from something and make it completely different. If you have access to art supplies, or simply pen & paper, try to create with whatever you have. Sketch out ideas that you have, giving yourself the option to expand upon them later. Spend some time looking into what resources may already be available to you, at no cost or at a discount, that you aren't yet taking advantage of. Many public libraries offer an insane amount of resources with the only requirement being that you have a library card to access them.

BUILT BY GIRLS offers a variety of resources and mentorship opportunities. With online access, you'll find that Youtubers, Bloggers, etc. provide endless pieces of content that can help you learn pretty much anything you'd like to DIY or see different methods other people may use in a process that you are trying to learn or are already familiar with. And don't be afraid to take bits and pieces of other people's processes and mix them up so that you find something that works best for you. When you get into the professional realm, learning to use tools like Adobe Creative Suite, will be important. If you don't have access to the more expensive tools at this time, you can research them in advance. So again, read, search, learn. You can become an expert on so many things with just the basics and your imagination. (Answered by Collective Panel)

Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?

Anywhere and everywhere! Through research, architecture, cool shapes, music, colors, other forms of art, people. Things that we can be exposed to throughout our everyday lives. Global traditions, cultures, unique points of view. Conversations with people: someone that you know well, someone you're meeting for the first time, or even someone/something that simply caught your attention that day but you never interacted with. Personal passions and your unique POV and imagination drive this process. And sometimes, you'll even find inspiration from a design you created in that past that you may have liked or you may have left on the drawing floor. One day you might revisit it - and just like that, you're envisioning it differently and seeing a whole new potential in something that may not have been there before. (Answered by Collective Panel)

How do you make a great protective case while keeping it cute and slim?

Lizzie’s Answer: Lots of trial and error! We spend all day working with engineers to push the design as far as possible without compromising functionality.

Bora’s Answer: Our advanced IMPACTIUM shock barrier built into all of our Presidio line cases! We have engineered our cases to absorb impact from the inside geometry of our cases so that it allows us to be creative on the outside, while still having a slim profile.

Do you work with engineers and other people work on the case? If so, how often and during what part of the design process?

Everyone on our team - which includes designers and engineers -- contributes to every project in some way. We work with each other from the very start of a new project to brainstorm and get as many ideas from as many people as possible. During the design process, we check-in with each other regularly to ask questions and get feedback.

Working with engineers from the very start ensures that every design decision we make considers the functionality of the product and feasibility for manufacturing. We also work closely with our marketing team from the very beginning so we can make sure that we’re designing something people actually want!

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