To those who abstain from iPhone cases on aesthetic grounds, the idea of replacing the device’s machine-milled backplate with a wooden one will seem like a transgression worthy of prison time. But the modification has proven to be a popular one, and now, with a kit from the Hannover-based design agency Qoop, it’s become a fully realized product. Creating Eden, as the line is called, involved tackling an unusual challenge: figuring out how to package a warranty-voiding, specialty-screwdriver-requiring process as something an average person would feel comfortable tackling.
Part of the solution is obvious: Supply that specialty screwdriver. Qoop did that–and made sure it’s something the buyer sees right away upon opening the box. Here’s your new backplate, here’s the tool you’ll need to install it. “The arrangement within the packaging box is simple,” explains one of the designers, “giving the customer a feeling that it is going to be easy to replace.” A tiny screwdriver rattling around loose inside a box doesn’t inspire much confidence when it comes to this type of precision endeavor.
The instructions for executing the job are similarly straightforward, essentially just four simple diagrams showing users how to proceed. It’s the Ikea approach to iPhone customization. You don’t need to know that the screws you’re dealing with are of an unusual pentalobe variety, so the included instructions don’t bother telling you. They just show you how to remove them.
The kit, which is compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4S, comes in four varieties of wood: wenge, mahogany, beech, and bamboo. Going the real-wood route (and avoiding the flimsy fake-wood versions that at least double the ech-factor), became a central part of the product identity, too. “We believe that we’re enhancing the highly technical iPhone,” a Qoop team member explained, “making it warmer and more natural.” The product picked up a “back to nature” tagline, and the team decided on a plain cardboard package that was intended to reflect their commitment to natural materials. All of the wood, the team points out, is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which oversees environmentally sound practices.
Still, natural or not, the style may not be for everyone. But for those who are interested, Qoop has made the potentially sticky process about as streamlined as it can possibly be.