CALILA is our journey in functional design and our study of clean minimalist aesthetic.
Our design principles are expressed in our brand tagline:
Simple + Functional = Beautiful
Every product we release solves a problem that we encounter by providing additional lifestyle functionality that we desire. In the construction phase, we seek to solve that problem in the simplest, most straightforward way possible, creating a clean modern motif. This yields beautiful products that look stunning, perform well, and add value to one's life.
When I break down our design philosophy deeper, I usually come to three different tiers of design that express how we create a product.
At tier one, we always start with a need, usually our own (though sometimes we work closely with a person or group of people). We ask questions like, "What product do I want but can't find?", "What product do I have that I wish performed better?", "What aspect of my lifestyle currently has a space that needs to be filled?"
If I can't point to a specific pain I'm solving or a significant improvement on an existing product that is tailored specifically to my needs, we won't consider it for development.
At this high level of the design process, I'm thinking about how the product will solve that need with a new or unexplored function, making sure it fits within our core brand values, and sketching out loose drawings.
Clean, simple aesthetic
At tier two, we really break down the lines of the product as driven by the functionality. Because we've already thought about the specific needs of the product, what it should and shouldn't have, we can think about aesthetics.
At CALILA we appreciate very clean, minimal design. We eliminate the unnecessary. We don't do lots of loud branding, no excess pockets and zippers, but even further, we have even gone so far as to eliminate exterior stitching on many of our products.
We think about geometric shapes, folds and creases, angles and intersection. We tend to lean very heavily towards balance in asymmetry.
Construction and testing, tweak
At our final tier three, we are focused on build quality, construction and final functionality details. Usually we build four to five prototypes, tweaking the design and construction each time. Then, when we have a few pieces we like, Lindsey and I use them. And use them more. Then beat them to hell.
Seriously. We ain't kind to these guys.
We make sure that zippers are moving correctly, stitch placement is holding up, materials aren't wearing improperly, lining is sitting precisely. But more importantly, we make sure that they are actually adding value to our lives.
Let's take a look at our testing on the Visionaire glasses case:
"When I stuff my Visionaire into my back pocket is it malleable? Does it fit? Does it stick out awkwardly?"
"If I drop it, does the foam layer provide enough shock resistance and protection?"
"Do I still find it useful to have a built in cleaning cloth? Is it positioned correctly so I can use it? Is it getting caught in the zipper?"
"Is the zipper sliding around the corners correctly? Is it folding open large enough to provide space to maneuver? Does the size feel 'just right', not too big or too small?"
Then we rebuild it again and again until we get it down perfectly. Many of our retailers are so eager to carry our new designs that we can even test with them and their customers, and that can lead to a second version of the product that goes wider. Sometimes we converse with our customers directly, taking feedback while at pop up events and fairs.
Simple + Functional = Beautiful
We believe that it is this focus on product design that separates us from our competitors. We try to design with a laser focus on a need so that people who resonate with that need instantaneously understand what to do with the product and how it will improve their lives.
We adopted #smartdesign after enough people said that very phrase to us the entire first year of our company. But you don't create smart design without being smart about your design philosophy and adhere to elevated standards.