Walk and talk with Hannes
What made you go out and start a case design company from scratch?
It didn’t start out that way, that kind of happened over time. In the beginning I was just reacting to what I perceived as a tactical flaw in the marketplace, in that pretty much all the cases I could find were really… well, they were kind of ugly. Large, bombastic, loud and flashy. Companies seemed to view the intended buyer as a perpetual teenager with little or no fashion sense, and I just didn’t agree with that generalization at all.
What did you see that they didn’t?
Everybody kept talking about gamers being the target group, but that had been going on for quite some time. Nobody seemed to consider that a lot of those gamers had actually grown up, or even that the tag “gamer” itself had widened over time to include a large diversity of people with different interests, tastes, needs and expectations. That diversity just wasn’t reflected in the marketplace.
And Fractal Design was dreamed up to address that by making cleaner, more precise designs that were both adaptable and affordable?
Yes. That was, and is still, in essence what we want to offer: well designed and thought-through, solid cases with a kind of understated elegance.
How does that fit with the flashing RGB-theme of the Define S2 Vision?
Well, the Define S2 Vision is a good example of how we develop products. We didn’t rush into making an RGB-case when it was new or trendy; we spent a lot of time fine-tuning and making a product that could support our high expectations and standards for function and quality. The end-result is a polished and well-made Fractal Design product for customers who want everything a Define case usually can deliver but now also with an elegantly implemented RGB solution and a lot of glass for visibility
How do you decide what features to offer and which to exclude when you’re putting together a new case?
We put a case together on the basis of a cohesive selection of features, a feature set that makes sense and specifically targets a group of uses or users. So while several models might seem similar at a glance, they actually offer very different user experiences depending on what the user wants to do. We accomplish this by being very selective. The alternative approach would be a kind of feature bloat, where you stick everything you can possibly think of into the design and ultimately ask people to pay for features they don’t need and are unlikely to use, making it a lower value proposition. No one wants that.
But surely there are Fractal innovations in the pipeline, too?
Of course. In fact, 2019 will see more new case designs than any other year we’ve been in business.
Could you give us a hint?
One project we’re very excited about is the quest for making the perfect ITX case. We’ve been working on it for two years together with probably the largest manufacturer of hardware computer circuits in the world. It’s a revolutionary design that is going to turn quite a few heads, and I can’t wait to see how people want to use it.
We’ve also just launched a new line of top-shelf PSUs, called the Ion series. And we are adding several accessories to our existing range.
What’s with the new logo and website make-over? Are there any real company changes we should know about?
Not really, we were just tired of the old one. Instead, we’ve put together a form of visual communication that I think really reflects who we are as a company. Graphically this means we’re moving out of the ice age, showing our products in real-life environments. I mean sure, we have a Scandinavian history and all, but polar bears have little to do with what we are all about.
So instead of the “Scandinavian”-cliché you’re going for the “we’re getting rid of all the clichés”-cliché?
Haha. Maybe so.
You’re celebrating 10 years as a leading developer of PC hardware. What do the next ten years hold in store for you?
I can’t wait to see. I think that as long as we stay relevant and really listen to the community, there’s no reason the next ten years can’t be just as good or even better. I’m having every bit as much fun today as I did ten years ago, and I hope to be able to say the same thing ten years from now.
For more on Hannes’s thoughts on the design process and how projects evolve from napkin-sketch to mass production, see the “Meet our makers” segment about our Product Development team below.