Japanese design website Casa BRUTUS interviewed the Apple trio behind the controversial design of AirPods Max and its Smart Case. Evans Hankey, Apple’s VP of industrial design, Bob Borchers, VP of product marketing, and Eugene Whang, the industrial designer, spoke in-depth about Apple’s new premium over-the-ear wireless earphones that cost $549 (₹40,363).
In the past, an Apple designer had said that Apple was working on the AirPods Max for the last four years. In the interview, Hankey explains that “Apple only has one chance to enter a product category, so we wanted to make it the best.”
The interview also revealed that Apple thought about implementing touch controls – found on AirPods Max’s rivals such as Sony WH1000XM4 and Bose 700 – but eventually gave a green signal to the Digital Crown design.
Hankey and Whang explained the design, saying, “We are quite familiar with aluminum and its oxidation process, and we also have a good understanding of the light and shadows that float on it. The earcups came into that shape because they were made of aluminum. The other materials probably had different shapes. There is an inseparable relationship between the material and the shape.”
Whang added, “The inside of the ear cup has a soft cushion that can be attached and detached with a magnet. When choosing the material, we chose the material that we are accustomed to wearing on the skin and the material that we prefer to wear. We choose genuine soft fabrics that are made to be worn, rather than fake materials such as vinyl, vinyl, or artificial leather.”
“Today, most headphones come with large, cumbersome cases, but we travel a lot, so we know how important it is to fit in a bag. So it’s extremely storage efficient. I wanted to make a good case. Our case has a structure in which one sheet is cut out and fastened in several places to become three-dimensional. When the ear cup is rotated and inserted here, the headband is exposed. Although it is still in the state, it is judged that it is not necessary to cover it because it is made strong in the first place. Also, thanks to the exposed band, it is possible to have a function that you can easily grasp it with your hand and take it out of the bag.” Whang added.