The Sinch: The Story Behind a Deceptively Simple Design
By Kristina Loring
September 13, 2011 – We know at frog that good design can improve the experience for life’s problems both large and small.That’s why frog teamed up with Dune Road Design to create a product that alleviates the chaos and frustration of rogue headphone cords. Thus, the Sinch was born: a new, high-design answer to the problem of keeping smart device cords tangle-free.
design mind sat down with frog Creative Director Jonas Damon, who led the project, to discuss the organic journey of designing not only the Sinch product, but its entire ecosystem: packaging, branding, and web presence. Jonas explains that while the design may seem like the obvious solution, simple design can be very deceptive.
What were some of the design challenges on this project?
We had an extensive first ideation phase where we looked at a couple dozen solutions for managing a cord on the iPhone or other popular mp3 players. So the real challenge was getting away from any mechanical solutions that felt too complicated for the task.
One of the major asks from the client was that the product be playful. Once we decided our direction, we knew that we wanted to work with magnets (you can’t beat magnets for playful!) and a rubber strap. A lot of work went in to getting the right strength and size of the magnets. We had to get the right material that would create a specific relationship to the magnets. The simplicity belies the complexity here.
Even when you are not using the product for its specific function, it will be living in your pocket or in your hands. So, we really had to look at the “fidget factors” of the material. We had to build a quality that was very tactile and robust that wouldn’t wear down from constantly being touched.
What research did you do to influence the design?
We had four or five different concepts that we presented in informal testing. Informal testing was so valuable for this type of project because cord management is such a generic problem that everyone who uses headphones can relate to. We knew we had found our idea when we felt a sense of shock that the concept with the most simplicity was the clear solution. You know you have something special when it is so simple or people say this is so obviously the right choice. It’s funny that simplicity can be very uncomfortable to a lot of people. We are often comforted by having many things around us to support us.So when a product comes along that is so simple, it almost seems naked to us as users. For certain designers though, simplicity is key and very reassuring.
How did the project grow from simply the design of the Sinch to the whole ecosystem of the product?
The project truly grew organically. We started solely focusing on the product design, but because of its radical simplicity, our client felt that we needed to build a larger story. It may sound cheesy, but we really went on a journey together. It wasn’t work for hire, but a true partnership. The client really understood the need for a holistic design and a brand that permeates every consumer touch point.
So, we built the entire brand: everything from the product name to the packaging to the web logo. The challenge in the packaging is that because the product is so simple, it didn’t always communicate its function by itself. The packaging needed to convey enough about what the product is and present it as something very special. The packaging almost becomes a second product.
One thing we liked about the solution is that it takes advantage of the existing user behavior of wrapping up headphones. Intuitively, it is an easy product to understand, but we can’t make the assumption that everyone will get it right away. So we provided a very detailed out of box experience with instructions on how to use it.
We are thrilled to have partnered with Dune Road Design on the Sinch, and are happy to have a hand in helping consumers live tangle free.
Full article here.