Designing For The Needs Of Connected Creative Professionals
PSFK speaks to founder of Dutch boutique design group MUJJO about their approach to mobile accessories.
Through the lens of Dutch design and hand-craftsmanship, MUJJO is a boutique shop designing for the needs of creative professionals. Their latest handcrafted products include touchscreen gloves and cases for the MacBook Pro Retina and iPad Mini.
We caught up with co-founder Remy Nagelmaeker to discuss how their products are meeting emergent needs in mobile accessories. He discusses the importance of mixed materials and how listening to their consumers led to creating their most successful product.
Tell us about your background and how MUJJO came to be.
Mujjo is a Dutch brand for mobile accessories. Founded by Tom Canters, Robin Nagelmaeker and me in 2010. We work with a small core group (at this moment 6 people) to keep the organization effective and adaptable. If there’s a need, we’ll hire freelancers from time to time. Keeping the organization small enables us to make quick decisions, we’re one of the first worldwide to launch a premium sleeve for the iPhone 5 for example, which gives us a first mover advantage.
What are the guiding design principles behind Dutch craftsmanship.
In my view, Dutch Craftsmanship is minimal; you can’t leave anything away without compromising the design or its function. It is contemporary, simple but elegant and often innovative in shape and/or material.
We don’t purposely stick to these ‘guides’ while designing Mujjo products. Instead, every Mujjo design is a reflection of our personal taste. We like to refer to Mujjo products as ‘Dutch Craftsmanship’ because all Mujjo sleeves are crafted by hand, with an obsessive attention to detail, making each item unique.
How do these principles come to life when applied to accessories for creative professionals?
Combining two or more different materials with different properties create a certain contrast that makes a product more interesting to look at (or use). If both materials are high quality, it will give a product that premium look and feel that we’ve been searching for while designing the Originals collection. We’ve seen accessories made out of wool felt before, we’ve also seen accessories made out of leather before, but the combination of both materials is what give the Originals collection that unique and premium look and feel.
The Originals collection is made of a unique combination of 100% wool felt and high quality leather. Wool felt is a sustainable material, offering strength while remaining soft to touch. We also use high quality vegetable-tanned leather and hand-dye with environmentally friendly dyes. We developed a special treatment to make the wool felt anti-peeling and water repellent.
Many people talk about menswear and men’s fashion as an area for growth/innovation. Are most of your customers male?
The male/female ratio comes close to 60/40. We design according to our own taste and our minimalism appeals to both males and females.
For example, the sleeves collection consist of two color combinations, brown leather and dark gray wool felt, or white leather and light gray wool felt. The lighter color combination appeals to females. We did get lots of requests for different colors of touchscreen gloves, part of those request came from females. While previously only available in black, this year collection comes in: black, natural gray, sandstone, lavender and coral pink.
Although we design according to our own taste, we do listen to requests of users/fans/editors. When the 15″ Macbook Pro Retina launched, we weren’t planning on making a sleeve for it, but the requests came pouring in and we decided to go for it and run a limited production. This sleeve now ranks among most popular sleeves. We don’t work with comprehensive strategies when we’re working on new collections, instead we just follow our gut feeling and listen to our fans.
What other insights can you add about your business?
Keep things small. If there’s a need, we’ll hire freelancers from time to time. This size enables us to make quick decisions.
In case of the iPad mini sleeve, we couldn’t go to production before the device launched, since we were so focused on the touchscreen gloves. As more and more fan requests pilled up for an iPad mini sleeve by Mujjo, we couldn’t make them wait any longer. In the end we had to pull some all nighters to make it happen.