Product Design, Identity, Digital Design
Developing 87 prototypes of a 100% 3D printed phone stand keeping screens out of landfills.
"The first model was later reduced from 4 KNUCKLES to a pair of cute Knuckies"
"The rectangular logo container widens a simplified side silhouette of the "ring" design"
The global churn of smartphones is at the heart of Knuckies, a forward-thinking phone stand invented by Michael Diaz and Mike Ideas partners. Designed to be 3D printed and adhered via a high-strength 3M adhesive tape, Knuckies celebrates the joy of playful fidgeting with a human-centered approach to comfortably and securely holding the ubiquitous black mirror.
The design is made available for 3D-print-on-demand via the New-York based 3D printing platform Shapeways, along with being available for download and customization via online 3D object platform 3DCults. Featured on 3D Printing Industry, Sculpteo, Nerdophile, and other 3D printing media platforms, Knuckies reimagines the limitations of SLS printing with fully articulated zero-assembly interlocking hinges.
Disrupting the ergonomically challenged, topple-when-standing, dirt absorbing, and hinge deteriorating weaknesses of emerging competitors, Knuckies breaks the mold by embracing a utilitarian design language. The comfortable rounded finger rings, taller yet stable standing modes, and pocket/necklace hook feature all serve to help users keep phones off floors and out of landfills.
Knuckies was the first bearing-equipped phone stand to hit the market and pre-dated fidget spinners by four years. The first design leaned into a smooth and fast-spinning bearing design that evolved into a fully-3D printed hinge approach that spins freely once smoothed out with use. At a time when Pop Sockets and iRings dominated the phone stand industry, Knuckies looks to reimagine what a great phone stand can be and how design can offset smartphone waste.
“As clumsy as it makes us feel, most of us drop our phones. Every. Day. What if there were a way to avoid it? And what if that solution was also fun — and multifunctional? Meet Knuckies.” – Shapeways
The various designs explored in the evolution of Knuckies reflects the playful and intentional desire to bring an analogue experience to an increasingly homogenous design language. Anchors, loops, lolipops, mop “T”s and even a cute cate design allowed shoppers to express themselves while assisting in the evolution of the phone handle. Ultimately, thousands of phone spinners assisted in refining the final Black “Anchor Ring” design, chosen for its unfading pigment and versatile hook-ability.
The rounded elements of the current design are made with pockets in mind, smoothed out to reduce abrasion for quick retrieval and finger-contouring at the base for comfortable extended use. The standing feature creates an elevated tripod with two rings and extends in an arch from the phone for a 60 viewing angle unlike any stand on the market.
A collection of videos shows customers how to safely apply and use Knuckies to their full capacity. Different designs and colors are shown in the latest promotional video to demonstrate varying use cases. The latest prototype by Andrés Belisario explores a sleek future-punk aesthetic while evolving the design to attach and detach via Magsafe mounting.
Michael has worked to refine and rest this bespoke phone handle over the course of over 82 prototype designs. The website, graphic language, and brand identity continues to evolve in tandem with the ever-changing nature of the smartphone accessory industry.
Initially the Knuckies trademark was a “smiling face” created from the outline of the first bearing-equipped production model. Currently, the Knuckies logo widens a simplified side silhouette of the Knuckies “ring” to house the wordmark in Bebas Neue by Ryoichi Tsunekawa. This forward leaning design reflects the brands intention to evolve smartphone design language toward a sustainable future.
Photography and graphic elements are in motion, on the go, and reflect the adventurous nature of the active lifestyle that inspired the project. To date, Knuckies continues to question what it means to hold a phone, the privilege it reflects, and the steps we can take as a culture to hold this power responsibly.