The Making of the Traveler

In May, as we began creating samples for the Mod and designing the first inserts, we hopped on Skype with one of our Adventure Project collaborators, Hanni (aka @justhanni). He had an upcoming trip to Iceland in the works and had been training his keen eye on our first, vague previews of the Mod on Instagram.

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Mike and our head designer Nisha spoke with Hanni, showing him the first working prototypes of the Mod and inserts that Nisha had made in our studio just a few days prior.

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In turn, Hanni walked us through the gear he was planning on taking on his upcoming trip. The roster included all his mobile shooting gear: OLO clip, Griptight Micro Stand, reserve Power Bank batteries and chargers galore.

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All of this was handy feedback for our Shooter insert, but what we ended up discovering was that most of all Hanni needed a solution to help him easily transport all his travel credentials from point A to point B. He showed us a nylon zip case he used that was designed with a single outer pocket long enough to place his boarding passes in for easy accessibility at the airport.

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With that in mind, Nisha got to work prototyping a Mod with an exterior pocket. She sewed this one up with a pocket large enough to fit a passport and boarding pass as well as accommodate pens or pencils on the sides.

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We shot the photo over to Hanni and while he liked that we had mimicked the exterior pocket of his other case, he told us he preferred the clean look of the exterior of our original Mod.  He sent over a sketch us an insert idea for the “world traveler” that he cooked up himself.

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Hanni’s design included a front-facing pocket able to hold up to 3 boarding passes with the idea that they would still be readily accessible by unzipping the top portion of the case. The front would also hold a pencil or pen to fill out the customs forms and small pockets to hold keys or foreign currency. The back included two pockets to hold passports and he suggested creating a large single pocket to hold a bunch of passports.

With Hanni’s sketch in hand and the exact dimensions for the insert in mind, Nisha whipped up our final Traveler insert, which holds multiple boarding passes, pen or pencils, and 3+ passports, notebooks or other misc. items on a tiered pocket system on the back. The ability to hold multiple passports makes it ideal for traveling in a group or with family.

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The Traveler Mod is the perfect carry-all for stress-free international travel– no rifling around in your bag for your boarding passes or passport.

Look forward to the Mod’s adventures in Iceland with Hanni next.

The Mod, A Case for your Unique Life

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photo by @charlesriccardi

The Mod is a full design system – not a singular item. It’s a new space to stow and carry items that are in your life. The concept was inspired by those old vintage portfolios that allowed for tricking out the interior with phone books, pencils, notebooks and little things. The Mod takes that concept and updates it with respect to modern day gear and today’s adventurer. ‘Mod’ifiable means you’re covered for your day job, after hours, weekends, alter ego, and dreams.

The modern day adventurer is leading a seriously interesting life. They have a day job, they blog, they shoot photos from their mobile, they have a bunch of people waiting for their next Instagram and VSCO Grid shot, they draw, they invent, they take up less space, they’re trying to be more organized, they’re looking for that next destination or AirBnB to travel to to snap some great pics, they’re leading double and triple lives, they’re thrill seekers, they’re designers, they’re educators, they’re flying solo, they have kids and or pets, they make music, they make love, they drink a lot of cold brew, they get their news from Vice, they laugh their asses off, they have 5 jobs but outsource 3 of them, they’re homeless yet living in luxury, they’re artists, they’re connoisseurs, they’re lifestylers, they’re poets, they’re all of us and more.

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Mods from the 60′s were also interesting, but this isn’t all about them.

Our brainstorm & sketches led us to departing from the nostalgic yet not-so pretty three ring binder and instead we chose to include seamless magnets to hold different leather inserts based on the user’s needs. The vegetable tanned leather shell is designed to handle core universal items – phone, a tablet, cords, cards, stylus, and of course the Pencil by FiftyThree.

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Once Nisha started prototyping from sketches, we tested and tested which led to six iterations before we reached a final prototype.

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Our observations and refinements were about ergonomics, safety, gender, size, psychology, beauty, peace of mind and a whole bunch of other factors that we love to obsess and debate on. We reached a point where it was ready to share over social media to see the reaction and invite people to help us test it out. We were really excited when interest started to come through, not only from how many expressed interest but how interesting the people that were interested appeared to be.

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As far as my personal testing goes, I am excited to finally have a case that has all my stuff (big and small) that I can carry in one hand. While deliberately unisex, it is exciting that guys have another option in a world where their aren’t a lot of options for guys. That said, with a simple switch of how it’s carried, it becomes quite cute and feminine.

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jpeg-4jpeg-8 jpeg-7For me,  the most exciting part about the Mod (and the reason I called it a system earlier) is the modification the inserts possess. We’ll be launching with a bunch of inserts that are designed with specific people in mind. Kind of like Breakfast Club. There’s one for the musician, the artist, the writer, the prom queen, the photographer, the jock, the camper, and a few others.

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We’re still working out the pricing and a few other details but will be releasing the whole story soon.

For the latest on the Mod release date and availability, sign up here: http://bit.ly/mod-signup

And the challenge.. We have 4 Mods that we’re giving out to test. To enter, just make sure we have your email address which you should’ve entered on your way into this post (if not reload). Then simply publicly share this blog post (link: http://bitly.com/modstory) on your favorite social site (IG, Tumblr, Twitter, etc) and make sure you tag with #tigmod #thisisground. We will run until Sunday when we’ll pick our last batch of testers, announce it here on the blog post. Good luck!

@macadaan @thisisground

Meet Nisha

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Meet the newest member of the team at This is Ground, Nisha. Nisha hails from Amsterdam and is a graduate from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute in menswear design. In her new role at This is Ground as Product Designer, she has lent her minimal menswear aesthetic to all the new pieces we’re working on and whips up a mean, professional quality prototype in just a few hours. Today we followed her around as she sourced leather, bought a skiver and worked on our newest prototype. We asked her some questions along the way.

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C: How do you start your day?
N: I wake up, do some yoga stretches and greet the sun, take a shower and have my breakfast.

C: What made you pursue design?
N: Well I had to choose something! [laughs] No, I always had a major appreciation for the quality and craftsmanship behind good design, be it clothes, accessories or architecture and I wanted to explore that notion in my education. The personal expression that is possible through clothing also interested me and led me to studying menswear.

C: And what made you want to work with leather?
N: Even as a young kid messing around I used leather for small projects. In my collections for school I liked to use leather as finishing and details for garments because I liked the look and feel of the material. I think it really elevates a piece. I mean, sometimes I wear leather pants and [a leather] top– I just love leather!

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C: So who are some designers that inspire your work?
N: Let me think… Ann Demeulemeester. Helmut Lang. Comme des Garçons. But I’m also inspired a lot by my surroundings. For example, Los Angeles. It’s a new city to me and the people, the culture and especially the architecture of DTLA are so inspiring to me.

C: How would you compare LA to Amsterdam?
N: Well, I really like the pampering culture here. People like to spend money and enjoy life which I think is the most important thing in life, to enjoy yourself. In Amsterdam there’s not so much of that. People are very stingy and like to say they’re being frugal when really they’re just greedy [laughs].

What else? Everyone has a dog here. And no one smokes! Cigarettes anyway.

Everyone in LA is crazy. I’ve never seen so many lunatics in my life but that’s what I like and I feel normal here.

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C: Did you enjoy growing up in the Netherlands?
N: Yeah, I think it was a great place to grow up. Obviously I can’t compare it with anywhere else but it’s really a city where you can do what you want. You have access to opportunities in whatever field you are interested in. Also the people are very down to earth which was good to grow up around. I might get swept up in things if I wasn’t down to earth.

C: What kind of things did you want to be as a kid?
N: For a while I wanted to own a shop where you could get anything. I was very skinny and would carry around a big, big bag twice my size full of everything I might need. I was super prepared. One time as a kid my family and I got stuck on the road and we needed a wrench and low and behold I had one in my bag! But what I wanted to be changed constantly. One week a Egyptologist, the next a painter…

C: Lastly, a few quick questions: What are you reading right now?
N: Strangeland by Tracey Emin. It’s a memoir by the artist, reflecting on her past and present as an English artist of Turkish decent. Really interesting.

C: What are you listening to at the moment?
N: A mix of old and new things. As always, The Doors and the Clash. I also listen to a lot of Nine Inch Nails but I try not to advertise that too much.

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C: What are your goals for 2014?
N: My main goal this year was to visit the States and live in LA. I just wanted to explore the world and myself. And now I’m here! I also need to get my driver’s license this year.