Though Grovemade began in 2009 as a maker of bamboo cases for the iPhone, the intention to be more than a “case company” was always a part of its foundation, and a shared aspiration of founders Ken Tomita and Joe Mansfield. At the time, establishing the new company meant putting that desire on hold while simply keeping up with orders and figuring out how best to operate as both a manufacturer and an e-commerce business.
THE MONITOR STAND
While the final design of the Grovemade Monitor Stand has a very simple appearance, achieving its form took a tremendous number of iterations. Ken began by sketching out the form by hand and constructing physical prototypes from laminated veneer. Each model completed was passed on to Joe and Grovemade product designer Sean Kelly, who analyzed the strength and weakness of every minute detail, made design suggestions for the next iteration, and sent Ken back to the wood shop. After countless rounds, the stand began to take shape. What began as a fairly rigid and severe form slowly evolved into the softly contoured silhouette we offer today.
FROM PRODUCT TO COLLECTION
Conceiving the collection proved to be a new kind of challenge, marking the first time the team had attempted to design multiple products concurrently. The thread of continuity and visual balance between each piece were entirely new considerations.
Preliminary brainstorming sessions led to concepts for a keyboard tray, a padded wrist rest, and a mousepad. With creative momentum on their side, the team was tasked to come up with additional pieces to flesh out the ideal desktop.
Adding to the complexity was deciding which ideas to run with while also knowing when to pull the plug on a dud. To keep track of the winners and the losers, detailed charts were drafted, with pertinent questions written out and tacked to the design studio walls. Is the product functional? Will it improve the user’s experience? Can we actually make it? After weeks of design rounds, the final additions were agreed upon: a pen cup, two diminutively sized planters, a miniature dish, and a desk lamp, all with a unified shape and circumference.
With a consensus of vision, it was time to bring the products into the real world. A small shipment of lumber and leather was ordered; programs were written for the mills. During these first fabrications, the planters, pen cups, and lamps came to be lined with polished aluminum.
Designed as a minimally intrusive accompaniment to the keyboard, the keyboard tray was cut to be as thin as possible while retaining a similarly ergonomic shape. Taking advantage of the hollow space created by the Apple Keyboard’s unique shape, it came to serve as the lid for a hidden compartment, with carved slots for pens and spare batteries below.