Hey Rebels, I’m here with a behind-the-scene interview with Scott Croyle - our Chief Design and Product Officer. As you all know by now, I started as a Kickstarter backer, and was so passionate about Robin that I later joined the team just before we launched the community forums. I wanted to know more about what went into designing this bold, uniquely-colored phone, and had a chance to sit with Scott to talk about why color matters and how the team decided on Mint for Robin. Hope you enjoy!
KT: Why does color matter when it comes to design?
SC: Color can generate such a strong response from people. I have this visceral, emotional response...and it can be so polarizing. For example, people have very strong, polarizing reactions to Midnight and Mint.
KT: How did you decide that Mint would be the color for Robin? What did you want to communicate with it?
SC: Above is the original presentation for the concept design, you can see that even the original design concept was some form of mint. When the team looked at it, it felt fresh, modern. Some colors feel strongly feminine, or strongly masculine, and mint struck a middle ground that didn’t skew either way - it felt right. As designers, we follow upcoming trends had a good sense it would work. Today, you can look around everywhere and see mint!
KT: Were there other options that you were also leaning towards?
SC: For sure! We had the original cosmetic models that were in Mint and Dark Blue, and then we when we starting working with our manufacturer, we did a full color study to explore a much broader palette. There was one that was light blue, that was a bit pastel, that was a strong number two.
KT: After choosing Mint, can you talk about the process of narrowing down which Mint color was "the one"?
SC: Typically what the team does is have a starting point, let’s say a color chip. We used Munsell chips that are painted and more like what you get in mass production. So what we’ll do is go through the color books and choose a target, then go to the paint shop and say “We want to start here, and want to go two shades darker, two shades lighter, or go maybe warmer or cooler.” Based on that original chip, a spectrum of colors emerges. I think we had 200 different mockups of different colors we were considering. We’ll have a discussion that will revolve around a specific chip - “Does this skew too far one way or the other, or does it lose its personality?” In the case of Midnight, it was tricky because we wanted it to not be black, but read black in certain lights, and read as blue in another light. With any color development, it’s not just matching the paint. What happens at the paint shop is you get a different sheen depending on the top coat that you put on it. When you get to mass production, you get a different sheen. So even though you have the color down, with every step in the process, you still have revisit all those parts of the process to make sure it’s all nailed and repeatable.
KT: For those interested in pursuing a career in design, do you have any advice for them?
SC: I think the biggest thing when you want to move into design is that you have to have a real passion for product and work on being resilient. There are a lot of things along the way that can feel like compromises, but it’s also about being able to have a different point of view, and thinking about that process - what works, and what doesn’t work. Sometimes concepts don’t work out, and you have to take a step back and think about things in another way. Also, it’s so easy to focus just on design, but it’s important to understand what you’re designing for, and then also what processes are involved, because that’s how you achieve big breakthroughs. If you can understand the manufacturing processes, then you, the engineers, and the team can start thinking about things in a different way. I would encourage people going into design to not give up on all these other elements - it’s important to be well-rounded so when you go in to fight these battles, or try to convince someone to do something crazy, it helps to say, “No, I actually know how this works. What if we do it THIS way?” And even if it doesn’t work, it shows that you are willing to get in there with them and figure it out.
Woah. I knew that there was A LOT that goes into creating a phone, but even down to the color...it's such a specific, detailed process. I can appreciate the process even more, and I'd like to thank Scott for spending time with me and providing that insight. Thanks everyone for reading! Hit me up in the comments if there's anything else you want to know, or someone you’d like me to interview.