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by Gina Angie on 01/18/2012 | 3 Minute Read

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Small startup launches prototype & packaging for wooden iPhone replacement panel. More info including an interview after the jump!

"Monolith back panels replace the glass back panel on the iPhone 4 and 4S with solid wood. When we searched for a similar product for our own iPhones, we were disappointed in the high price of the existing offerings and decided it'd be easy enough to make our own. It didn't take us long to decide to keep making them.

The goal of the packaging was something that was recyclable and economical on a small scale, yet attractive enough someone wouldn't mind keeping around since it doubles as safe storage for the original iPhone glass back panel. We designed and constructed the packaging from laser cut corrugated cardboard with cutouts to accommodate the screwdriver provided for installation. A laser cut sleeve features a logo cutout to expose the wood grain of the back panel."

Gina Angie: What inspired your packaging concept?John Tolman: In general, I was inspired by minimalist packaging that doesn't have a lot of waste or less renewable materials (i.e. plastics). A good recent examples I came across is the packaging for the glif iphone tripod mount by Studio Neat. I found a few companies that offered design/fabrication of laser cut packaging, but I really wanted to make our packaging in-house. I wanted a design that could be rapid prototyped and produced on a small scale without sacrificing design aesthetic or resorting to make-shift off the shelf packaging.  I think it can be intimidating sometimes for a small startup such as myself when you consider the possible large setup costs involved with more traditional custom packaging such as die-cut cartons and molded fiber. I think a lot of people including myself owe our ability to make such packaging in-house to newer and cheaper rapid prototyping technologies such as CNC laser engravers/cutters.

Gina Angie: What is the price point of the product?

John Tolman: The price point is $55 for any of the wood species and iPhone 4 or 4S and we have plans to offer custom engraved designs as well as more exotic wood species in the next few months.

Gina Angie: Do you have a background in product or package design or is this your first venture?

John Tolman: I don't have any experience in packaging design although my background is in mechanical engineering and some of my education focused on industrial design. I've always had an interest in graphic and industrial design though, and nearly went into one of those fields.Gina Angie: I love the simplistic approach to branding, but does the packaging or product say "Monolith" anywhere?

John Tolman: The back side of the sleeve does have a laser cut/etched design with more detailed branding, although not on the prototypes (below). We are making a production run this weekend which will have those final touches.

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