iMac_3Quarter

ORIGINS: HiRise for iMac

ORIGINS: HiRise for iMac

Whenever we launch a new Twelve South product, we usually get a lot of feedback, ranging from “how’d you know I needed that?” to “how’d you think of that?” and sometimes, “I wish I’d thought of that.” So we decided it might be fun to share some insight into how each of our products came to be.

We’ll call this series “Origins” and here’s the first one, about HiRise for iMac, which was introduced in September 2012. Creative Director and Twelve South co-founder Andrew Green tells us a little more about the process behind the product.

What made you decide that iMac needed height enhancement or storage?

AG: “We would walk into many Apple shops, including Apple’s headquarters offices in Cupertino, and see people with either reams of paper or phonebooks underneath their iMacs, just to give them a few inches of height. We thought was a shame that people were putting such a beautiful machine on a stack of books, and thought we could do better.”

What’s your creative process like for a product like this?

AG: “I’d had this core design idea in my head for a long time, where the Apple Cinema Display disappears into a box, and when installed looks like a different desktop computer. But it was a solution looking for a problem. When we realized how many people elevated their iMac already, we had the perfect, unique design in our laps. There was also a small but vocal group of iMac users who had an occupationally specific problem in that when an iMac is paired with an external Cinema Display, their monitor screens don’t match up…the iMac screen is about 2 inches higher than the Cinema Display screen. For these video editors who demand two identical screens perfectly side by side, this was really annoying after they invested so heavily in Apple hardware. So the HiRise for iMac adjustable stand was the perfect solution to this unique but important problem with Apple hardware as well.”

What did initial prototypes look like? What features did you add later on?

AG:  “There’s the core shape, which remained from the very first doodles years ago, but initially the product was envisioned as 6 flat pieces of metal that screwed together, very IKEA style. But then my wife and business partner, Leigh Ann, felt strongly that it should have a softer, more rounded edge. So that brought about the curved box, which led to the elegant but extremely simple construction of two halves sliding together. The vented front holes take their design cues from the previous-generation Mac Pro but also our own BackPack. Because we envisioned many people using both the HiRise for iMac and the BackPack, we tried to use a consistent design language across these products that we think is appreciated.”

How do you know when a product is truly finished? Or as Seth Godin would say, how do you know it’s time to ship?

AG: “You’re never finished. You just ship. When it fulfills the core promise and is going to delight our customers, we try to stop messing with it long enough to ship it, but then typically continue adding ideas for future versions. When it’s a brand new product it’s all internal ideas – we don’t ask anyone but ourselves what is best for the product, there’s no focus group beyond our company of 12 people – but when it’s released, we immediately turn to our customers and ask: ‘What works? What doesn’t? What could be better?’ But the product is never done.”