The Continuum of Design

Everything new, really isn’t new at all.  The things we celebrate as “new” and “innovative” are just the incremental steps forward along some unknowable continuum of design.  We simply build on our own previous works which ultimately trace to the previous works of others.  Understanding this should help to keep our egos in check and hopefully instill a measure of humility in our work.

After the mad dash to fill thousands of orders this past holiday season, it’s nice to have a little breathing room around the Koostik studio to work on some “new” products.  Lately, we’ve been working on some ideas for a small passive acoustic amplifier exclusively for the iPhone 5.  We wanted it to have a unique look and to be very clean and direct in its functional aesthetic.  As often happens, an ititial idea quickly morphs into forms that were not originally imagined.  And, of course, there are complete fails along the way; which happily point us off in new tangents.  

This quest for something new and fresh has actually resulted in a couple of elegant product designs we are eager to introduce.  Both products trace their roots back through our line-up of existing product designs; though the pathways to them were a bit different.  There are some external features on the iPhone 5 that set it apart from the 4 and 4S phones that preceded it.  Most notable, is the switch from the 30-pin charging connection to the new Lightning connector.  This much smaller charging connection as well as a slightly redesigned external speaker prompted us to design a small passive amplifier that would also allow for the new Lightning charge connection through the device.  After evolving through a half dozen prototypes, we hit on the right solution with the result that we will soon introduce the new Kurv for iPhone 5.  It uses sound bouncing principles between two planes to create a natural energy free volume boost for the iPhone 5’s external speaker.  We will offer two versions- one for use without a case (for purists), and one which will accomodate most popular cases. In the photo below, the 2 o’clock position is the first prototype in the process.  They advance sequentially at 4 o’clock, 6, 8, and 10, before arriving at our final product design at the 12 o’clock position in the photo.   


As previously mentioned, we actually ended up with two new products to introduce as a result of the process of trying to come up with one.   Early in the concept stage, I had thought we might be able to redesign our Original Koostik into something unique for the iPhone 5.  I had in mind for some time, to work up something with a decidedly geometric feel.  I also wanted a product which enabled the user to place the phone either in landscape of portrait mode depending on the intended use.  And finally, I wanted a product that enabled a higher degree of flexibility regarding the use of various cases.  The result of all these imposed parameters was met in a single moment of insight that resulted in the creation of the Pivot.  There were no prototype steps along the way- the form simply presented itself to me and thus was born a new product that works for iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 equally well; allows for the phone to be positioned in portrait or landscape modes, and accomodates phones without cases as well as with many of the more popular cases for these phones.


Whether ideas arrive fully baked or must evolve through several iterations, they all build on previous work.  Sometimes we gather ideas from nature or the works of others we admire and build on those sparks of influence.  In the times in which we live, change happens at light speed.  We move on so quickly to the “next big thing” that we often miss out on the simpler elegance of what already is.  While we continue to explore the “old school” phenomenon of passive acoustic amplification, we are at the same time, looking forward.  Koostik is currently prototyping our first battery powered, bluetooth enabled speaker system which we hope to introduce in plenty of time for the 2013 holiday season.  You can be sure, it will be unique.  Stay tuned!

February 25, 2013 by Jim Simon
Tags: Design
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