We make pen cases at Nock. The best pen cases as far as I am concerned. We have created a design language that pairs form and function in a pleasing and useful way, and we have done it since the beginning (6 years this August.) That makes designing new cases easy, yet tricky. For years we have been asked about a pocket notebook cover and never had an idea that speaks to the Nock brand until now. Maybe.
It’s not a crazy process that we go through when designing a new case. There is usually a sketch, but most often Brad and I talk, and an idea is formed. I think about it for a month or three or six, then I sew a sample. Many times I will get the first prototype 90% there, and only need a single revision to get where we want to be. Some folks gasp at so few samples sewn, but I do A LOT of the work in my head before cutting a single piece of fabric. That’s why there are months between idea and execution (the SEED lineup ended up taking us years, for example.) This case is not one of those that we have flown through either. It’s not even a necessary case for us in some ways, but very much needed in others. We have the Sinclair, which is a rockstar product. The Fodderstack will be returning this year, which works for pocket carry, too. But, this is almost a quick draw solution, which is where the complication comes in: How to make it quick to open, but secure? What closure should we use so it doesn’t get in the way? What awesome colors should we choose?
I started with a sketch, for once, so you can see how we look at problems.
I stink at sketching products. It is something I want to get better at, but I have a hard time convincing myself to put in the time when this works for me. My idea is a tri-fold with (possibly) a hook closure.
The cover will hold one notebook (maybe more if used a little differently,) one or two pens, and that’s it. If a customer requires a larger capacity, a Sinclair should work fine. The Fodderstack has essentially the same capacity but in a different form factor. These are all parts of deciding on a new product. Brad and I ask ourselves “Where does this fit?” If there isn’t a right answer, the idea is squashed.
These are some of my first thoughts in creating new products. In the next part of this series I will discuss finding measurements, cutting material, and making final “in process” design choices. It should also be noted that this case may never see the light of day. This is an experiment. A show-and-tell for whatever success or failure we end up with. Let’s see what happens.