Blog tagged "design" - N-Product
2012 saw a huge increase to our marketing budget, but going up from zero wasn't too much of a challenge. While we have never spent a dime on advertising or pr, we knew that we needed to set up shop at these events to maximize our outreach to international retailers and distributors.

Our online customers have been mainly been outside of Canada, and building that presence abroad was always part of the game plan.

The New York International Gift Fair would be our first foray into the trade show world. It is one of the biggest, with an expected traffic of over 200,000 people coming from all over the globe. It was also our most expensive activity to date next to our tooling and North American manufacturing set-up costs. Suffice to say, that we were a bit nervous when we considered the 'investment vs return' equation.

Was it worth it? For us, it was a resounding 'YES!'. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, we had no idea what we were doing. Yes, it was stressful and a lot of hard work. But it was indeed worthwhile. The most valuable part of the experience was the education we received from our fellow exhibitors and the experience. It gave us a glimpse into the market, how the big and small players acted. It also gave us the confidence and the resolve to continue on this long and winding journey.

What was supposed to be a quick synopsis of our experience turned out to be quite a long post, so we decided to divide them up and posted them in parts over the next week or so.

We broke it down to 3 main sections:
  1. Pre-show
  2. At-show
  3. Post-show
We’ll also have some Tips at the end of each article that we think may help ease your process a bit. Just like these below.

Tip: Remember, just like your daily business activity, all decisions are influenced by time or money. Sometimes, the cheapest option will require more of your time and your time is valuable. Don't always go for the cheap.

Tip: Every industry has a calendar of events, a bit of research will help you find the right event that makes sense for you, your product and your potential audience. You can cut your costs by planning ahead and registering early.

To know us, you must understand that we are obsessed about the little details. Whenever we can, we try to add certain subtle design elements that may have been missed on first or even second view; but they are there, sitting and waiting to be discovered. 

The same is true for the Deckster logo. Here's some insight behind the logo and how it found its way in becoming what you see today. From the beginning, we knew that the cassette tape would be a strong design influence, from the name, the Pop + Lock System to logo itself. 

As for the name, we never ever considered using the “i” preface to the name such iDeckster or iDeck. We both thought that any variation of that would iSuck. So we thought of a couple others. Nanodeck. Didn’t like it. Timedeck. Lame. Nanotimedeck. Super lame. Decktime. You get the drift.

Deckster was our first thought, the only issue we had was that if someone heard their name, they immediately thought of a certain sexy and aloof serial killer on HBO.

Here's some early sketches with the other (crap) name options.

Once, we settled on the name. We wanted the typography to mimic that shiny ribbon that 'holds' the music inside a cassette tape. The typography needs to feel like the tape ribbons while maintaining legibility, single colour reproduction and scaling, etc. All those silly classic logo design rules.

The base typeface was Steiner Light, similar to Bauhaus and few others. Steiner Light is a simple sans serif font with no odd counters and other weird type anatomy. We decided on all lower cases, softer in view while the name is quick and bold to say out loud. The lower casing made for easier work kerning and other modifications.

We identified certain parts of the letterform that we wanted to modify.

A close-up of the positioning and interplay between 2 characters in particular.

After mods to shoulders, finials, descenders and ascenders. Here's a before and after.

Once we were happy with the custom mods, we kerned them real tight. Then we needed to do a bit of clean-up.

In this view, you can see that each character is made of multiple points on the curves. Makes for a less than perfect radius. Sure, no one would notice except us, but no matter. We couldn't sleep at night if those errant points stayed.

The mess zoomed in! The horror.

We wanted the logo to be made up strictly concentric circles and straight lines. So, we needed to be overhauled. Fresh start anyone?

You get a concentric circle. Everyone gets a concentric circle. 

Look how clean this is. I mean, it only has enough points to create the shape. No more, no less.

Finally done! Now, we knew that we would roll out various styles for the Deckster. We needed an unique modifier to our identity. We are using the ________:CLASS structure. The FIRST:CLASS speaks to the high quality of the design and materials, and's the first style out of the oven. Genius right? To balance and unify the identity with its imodifier, we used a 'slash' that if you measure from the baseline, it's the same angle as the radius of the Deckster when opened. Neato!

So there you have it. A simple design, that took a bit of time, elbow grease and a heathy dose of typographic obsession.


One the fine craftsmen that will be working on the Deckster

As a design team, a company and a married couple, decisions flow through a myriad of factors before finding its final destination. One decision in particular has never wavered. The Deckster must be made in North America—without question.

Why bother? When there are simpler, cheaper and faster options just a few time zones away? Simply stated, because we can. N-Product is just us, we have no investors or stake holders to answer to. We want to create a company based on values that we believe in. This is something that is very important to us. We are passionate about our designs and we want to make them with practices that we appreciate.

When the both of us were growing up, there was still a strong and healthy manufacturing industry in North America. At that time, there was a great spectrum of products that still bore the small print of Made in Canada or Made in USA somewhere on their bodies. We like the notion of an idea and its manufacturing sharing the same place of birth.

We are practitioners of the Slow Goods movement, where objects take time to craft, are composed of quality materials and last a lifetime, or two. We have takeng elements of the Slow movement and applied it to the creation of products with our very own Wikipedia entry for Slow Goods. This involves using on-shore manufacturing, sustainable practices and small production numbers. It demands discipline and finding the right partners.

We are but one small company that has helped create this resurgence in on-shore manufacturing. We’re a family business that seeks out and partners with other family owned suppliers and manufacturers. In our small way, we want to contribute to the manufacturing resurgence in North America. Canada and the US has many small, passionate and skilled manufacturers who are motivated to do great work.

We struggled and strived and we are lucky enough to find 3 such partners in our quest to bring the Deckster to market. We believe that this added effort, time and money spent translates into a top shelf design that we are proud to produce and that you would be proud to bring into your life.

As designers, you're always inspired by everything you see, read, smell, taste and feel. From the beginning, our design inspiration for the Deckster's aluminum jacket and the leather bands comes from one single source. Steve McQueen, and his performance as American, Michael Delaney in the 1970 film Le Mans. Michael Delaney goes against the grain and the odds as he and his Porsche 917K competes in the gruelling 24 hr endurance race, set in Le Mans, France. McQueen, looking like badass personified for the entire film, all the while sporting the Tag Heuer Monaco 1133 (B model Calibre 12). An icon wearing a soon to be icon, a match made in sexy heaven.

While we're not certain, but we think this is the first time in pre-Wikipedia history that the saying, "Men want to be him, and women want to be with him" was uttered.

Very. Very. Cool.