BlackBerry Leap

Like all of the devices coming from BlackBerry, the BlackBerry Leap design has a story behind it. Over at the Inside BlackBerry Blog, Donny Halliwell has sat down with the designers of the BlackBerry Leap, Brian Paschke and Younghwan Kim, to discuss some of the design inspirations for the latest all-touch device.

When I sat down with the designers of the BlackBerry Leap, I was interested to learn that its rational beauty, for example, is influenced by modernist architecture. Visually-light elements and reflective surfaces, supported by structural frames, unify the form. The minimalist frame allows for an edge-to-edge display and a slim profile. Nothing detracts from the content, letting productivity be the main focus. The back housing with a signature, functional perforated texture has a soft-touch finish providing grip and comfort. Every single detail has been designed to give the user the most productive and uninterrupted experience.

BlackBerry has won plenty of awards for design in the past from organizations such as Red Dot, iF Design and GOOD DESIGN and the BlackBerry Leap 'was designed with the same principles in mind that helped earn these accolades.' You read the full interview with Brian Paschke and Younghwan Kim below.

BlackBerry Leap

Halliwell: Tell me how BlackBerry's all-touch devices have evolved, and what everyday items inspired the design of Leap.

Paschke: Leap began by looking at the shape of the award-winning Z3 and Passport and merging the parts together to form a single-body construction made from engineered resin. This simplified construction provides grip, structure, ergonomics and a simple assembly and makes for an easy repair. The edge-to –edge glass can be found in many of our products and complements the gestures used in the BlackBerry 10 OS.

Kim: BlackBerry Leap evolves the user experience of the award-winning Z3 and Passport through continuous improvement of the gesture-based interface of BlackBerry 10. Every part of the manufacturing process has been considered to support the purposeful design and optimized details. Considered design includes a SIM/SD card cover that reveals directional card insertion graphics for ease of use. Construction and assembly are core aspects to consider early in the design process. Leap is efficiently constructed as a two-part construction; the body and display set. With this approach, parting lines and screws are eliminated from the outside of the device.

Halliwell: How were the materials and the colors chosen?

Paschke: My favorite is the white model. It uses a porcelain feel coating to contrast with all the details such as display glass, lens and keys which have been blacked out. Making, in a way, all the details seem to come from the core, yet are protected by the contrasting shell…. almost like armor over a body. I jokingly nicknamed it the stormtrooper colorway, internally. Shadow grey has a stealthy play on contrast that is also quite beautiful.

Kim: I enjoy the porcelain finish of the white variant in how it enhances the form and detail within the back housing.

Halliwell: How did you iterate and learn throughout this process?

Paschke: The Leap design process was really looking at all the hardware knowledge we gained in Z3, Z10, Z30 and Passport and looked to make a simple, secure and elegant product that would be accessible to all. We also used our past Z3 experience and knowledge or creating speaker holes with a laser to unify the detail with the rear pattern.

Kim: The dotted texture pattern on the back of the device provides a more secure grip while adding a refined level of detail. A very subtle fading of the dots occur as the texture wraps around the sides of the device. The speaker perforations are aligned with the dot pattern to look natural and simple, but require a great deal of attention during the manufacturing process to execute flawlessly.

Halliwell: What are the challenges of designing an all-touch device? How do you make it stand out?

Paschke: The balance is to make something different, but with purpose. Something that will not date with fast moving trends and is as secure and reliable as the OS. We feel that the shape, with its contrast of soft and hard surfaces, the solid build and the edge-to-edge glass is a step in this direction.

Kim: Simplifying the design without removing the necessary essentials is an exercise in tradeoffs. We believe people will appreciate the feeling of confidence this solid product will instill through everyday use.