In this tech-obsessed city, almost nobody leaves home without at least one gadget in tow. And with all the real-world dangers (i.e. concrete curbs!) that can cause chips and scuffs on our precious devices, we need some quirky-yet-tough armor for protection. That’s why we (along with President Obama and J.Crew's Mickey Drexler) covet San Francisco-based DODOcase, since the brand nails it in assembling top-notch carriers that are anything but boring.
To see how the holders come to “protect from extinction,” we poked around the company's Dogpatch factory to learn first hand. What'd we find? A stellar team of swift-working DODO makers and an industrially cool workspace. Antsy to greet the bookbinding folks? We’ve caught the team in action, and chatted up co-founder Craig Dalton for all the DODO deets, meaning you’re bound to learn a thing or two! Click through after the jump, and once you see how awesome the digs are, we’ll rest our case.
Photographed by Christine Ting
What were you each doing before DODOcase started?
“Patrick, Mark, and I were each independently working on different startups in the mobile technology space. The enthusiasm we all had for the DODOcase concept was enough to shelve those projects and focus on it full-time.”
From left to right: Co-founders Patrick Buckley, Mark Manning, and Craig Dalton hanging out in their factory!
How did the DODOcase idea come to hatch?
“With the earlier introduction of the Kindle and the impending launch of the first iPad, it was clear that the transition from ink and paper to pixels was going to continue to accelerate within the marketplace. With this, we saw very clearly that the art of bookbinding and the simple pleasure of holding a hardback book were at risk of disappearing. We set out to design a case that gave the user superior functionality, while using traditional book-binding techniques and materials — all handmade and built locally in San Francisco.”
Do you consider yourself a techie?
“Yes, the entire DODOcase founding team loves technology and gadgets, which is interesting to see how that has been combined with our love and appreciation for traditional craft.”
What are your day-to-day tasks like?
“Every day is an adventure at DODOcase! I can find myself pitching in on the production line, giving tours to partners, concepting new products or new designs, or fighting the ever-present battle with my inbox. But it's always fun and definitely busy.”
What is your favorite aspect of the DODOcase factory?
“My favorite part of our factory is the matching '40s Kluge Press' we use for debossing the DODOcase logo and other tasks. They each have a large fly wheel, lots of moving parts, and create quite a pleasurable raucous of noise when in operation.”
What are you top Dogpatch spots outside of the office?
“The Dogpatch has so many great places — my favorites are probably Piccino
and The New Spot
How long does it take to create a single DODOcase?
“The DODOcase is an assembly of multiple components, the book-bound exterior and the bamboo tray, most notably. These components are created by our craftsmen at different rates. So, for a custom DODOcase, for example, the process takes three to four days to complete. For standard products completed in small runs, the time can decrease to two to three days.”
What's the best part about working at DODOcase?
“Interacting with the wide variety of craftsmen that call DODOcase home. From the book binders and the wood craftsmen to the screen-printing team, we have an amazing array of talented and interesting teammates.”
How would you describe your office?
“I'd describe 'The Nest' as a factory-slash-office mash-up. We've got desks and computers within eyesight of the bookbindery. This mash-up keeps us ever aware of the many hands that go into the creation of each DODOcase.”
When you saw that President Obama was carrying a DODOcase, did you freak out?
“The day we found out that the POTUS carried a DODOcase was amazing on many levels. One of the best parts for me personally was the fact that it was a member of our community that first broke the news to us. The entire team here was incredibly honored to see our work in the President’s hands. It validated our approach and warmed our hearts — plus, it was great to see President Obama's support for the preservation of American crafts, such as book binding.”
That DODOcase bike carrier in the office is pretty sweet, how does it get used the most?
“Originally we used the DODObike to shuttle components around the neighborhood, but now we use our truck, Crystal, for that. Now, the DODObike is mostly used for marketing activities as our own personal mobile pop-up shop anywhere in the city, and events.”
What's something you only know about DODOcase from working there?
“The passion for life runs wild with all our employees at DODOcase. We have poets, writers, triathletes, climbers, knitters, activists, kite surfers, and musicians who spend their work lives with us.”