The magnetic comfort – Oakywood’s MagSafe collection
From the very beginning of Oakywood’s existence, we prove that new technologies love the company of natural materials and minimalistic design. This time (and it’s not the first time!), we have decided to create something for Apple users, including ourselves: multifunctional accessories compatible with the MagSafe chargers. Today we want to tell you more about how this collection came to life.
Where did the idea come from?
At Oakywood, we take great care to ensure our products are useful and meet the needs of their users. Another factor that influences our idea-generating process is our passion for technology and innovative solutions on the market.
During the MagSafe presentation at the 2020 Apple Event, I was certain we were going to create accessories for the new Apple chargers. MagSafe, together with its magnetic alignment, is a brilliant invention and a simple solution that eliminates wireless charging’s shortcomings. The charging pad itself is, however, not functional in all settings, specifically while working at a desk. The phone has to lay flat to charge and detaching it requires both hands.Founder & CEO
It’s been 2 years since the idea of the collection was conceived – our goal was to create thoroughly fine-tuned, ergonomic, and functional accessories, fully compatible with the MagSafe technology. In the meantime, we started working with an industrial designer Magdalena Gembala which gave us a new and fresh perspective on the whole concept. This is when the work on the collection really took off.
Inspirations and foundations of the project
Products and accessories aimed at MagSafe users started popping up on the market quite quickly, so Magdalena began by conducting a wide analysis of already existing solutions. This allowed us to pinpoint underdeveloped areas and identify what was lacking in our competitors’ products.
The next step involved a technological analysis of our early product ideas with regard to their implementation potential, functionality, and compliance with our design strategy based on, for example, using natural materials. Based on the findings we selected 8 ideas with the most potential, then whittled them down to the final 4: the iPhone Stand, the Apple Watch Stand, the iPhone Desk Shelf Mount, and the iPhone Wall Mount. Interestingly, at the time of its conception, our Desk Shelf Mount did not have an equivalent on the market.
After a thorough analysis of available solutions, user needs, and possibilities, it was time to develop a project brief. Here are some of its most important objectives:
- The accessories must help in workplace organization and make everyday use of an iPhone and an Apple Watch easier,
- The products should be compatible with all iPhone 12, 13, and 14 models (both with and without Apple’s MagSafe cases), and with Apple Watches and their chargers,
- The products should complement each other both functionally and visually,
- The products should be comfortable to use – this is in regard to:
- Positioning the devices at a correct angle and correct distance from the desk,
- The ability to hide the charger’s cable,
- The ability to freely change the phone’s position (from vertical to horizontal and vice versa),
- Smoothly and comfortably detaching the device from the charger with one hand.
- The products should be innovative, well thought through, and aligned with our brand’s philosophy,
- The iPhone Stand should be stable and balanced – the weight of the phone (especially the Pro Max models) and its security have to be considered.
The conceptual stage
Once we were sure of our goals, we moved forward with the conceptual phase. Developing an entire collection is much more difficult than designing just one product because apart from functionality, it’s important to ensure all accessories are cohesive.
The biggest challenge at this stage was the need to adapt our products to fit all iPhone 12, 13, and 14 models, which differ not only in size but also the placement and size of camera lenses. An additional dilemma was the fact that the camera bump protrudes beyond the phone’s surface and the MagSafe charger sits only millimeters away in some models. We have, however, come up with a solution which allows the user to use our products without any problems.
Choosing the materials
It will surprise nobody that the primary material used in the new collection is solid wood – this time however, apart from oak and walnut in their natural colors, we are offering oak products stained black. Another new arrival is powder coated aluminum. Why did we choose this metal? The reason behind our decision was practicality – specifically the weight of the products. Both the bases and the charger grips need to be sufficiently weighty and stable. However, had they been made using steel, they would be too heavy, for example, the iPhone Stand base would have weighed over 2 kilograms (!). Thanks to aluminum, we achieved an optimal weight of 700 grams.
Prototypes, testing, and fine-tuning
Having refined the projects, created parametric 3D models and visualizations, we began prototyping – we have built almost 100 prototypes. The first ones were made entirely out of wood as their only purpose was to help assess their presentation and basic functionality. We then moved to prototyping using the target materials, which allowed us to work out the construction and utility details, for example, connecting specific parts and their distance apart, the number and positioning of the magnets, choosing materials such as flock to cushion the inside of the handles, and also the production methods (especially casting, milling, and bending of the metal elements).
We have also taken extra care to make parts such as screws, presser feet, and dials fit well enough to enable the correct performance of all accessories but also make using them easy and comfortable. The element we paid most attention to was the mounting bracket of the Desk Shelf Mount – it was a considerable challenge both in technological and aesthetic areas, but the innovative and unique solution proposed by Magdalena made it all work beautifully.
As part of the prototyping process, we ran 7 test rounds. This allowed us to achieve satisfactory results and decide to finally begin production – we have created products that are fully refined, cohesive, and functional. Now all that’s left to do is hope the #oakyfolks appreciate this creative union of aesthetics and utility ;).