A few kilometers beyond the ostentatious Google office in Gurugram is the unit of DailyObjects, which makes premium phone cases, Apple Watch straps and MacBook cases. Pankaj Garg’s accessories business started in a new direction with designer phone cases in 2015 and now sells more than 20,000 of them a month, along with a range of products including charging solutions and wallets that contribute to the Rs 100 crore top line of the company.
“A phone is a functional product, but very boring to look at. We wanted to add color to the phone through covers. It’s something people notice right away,” explains Garg, also CEO of DailyObjects, speaking to indianexpress.com in his Gurugram office.
When Garg’s company started offering designer phone cases, demand for top-of-the-line smartphones was still small. But Garg believed that this was just the beginning and that the numbers will improve in the years to come. Looking back, Garg is happy that his clearance turned out to be correct, especially regarding the iPhone and Apple Watch, for which his company makes straps.
DailyObjects prices its iPhone 14 Pro cases between Rs 1,199 and Rs 1,999, depending on material and design. This is comparatively a higher price to pay for a phone case, especially when Amazon and street vendors offer cheaper options.
But Garg is targeting aspirational consumers looking for differentiation. Also, if consumers can spend a lakh on an iPhone, they can also spend more on a phone case. “Everyone has the same phone… which you can’t change every six months, but you can change the case,” explains the psychology behind buying designer cases.
Garg has a team of designers and illustrators who work on the case design in-house. “We start by creating a mood board around the theme we want to work on, deciding on the colors and elements we want to pick from the theme,” explains illustrator Devansh Sharma. In his early 20s, Sharma says that a design thinking process is an open canvas where anyone can represent his thoughts and emotions. Designing a phone case involves a lot of seeing and responding, he adds.
But not all designs get the go-ahead. “There is a bit of headspace in understanding what the weight of a collection is if we want to work on it,” explains Disha Grewal, Design Director at DailyObjects. “Designing a phone cover is just the tip of the iceberg. The process also includes market research. If there is a whole wave of sneakers, we will try to understand what consumers are looking for.”
Each design goes through multiple rounds of iterations and sampling. As Grewal says, the design journey is not linear… “it’s iterative and looping.” The process of designing a case varies depending on the complexity involved, but it generally takes 15 days from when the designs are ready and approved. Some phone collections can even take up to 8 weeks to design.
Sharma, who is currently working on a collection of cases for Nothing Phone (1), says that each design has its own journey. The yet to be released phone case collection is heavily inspired by the sci-fi game Cyberpunk 2077. “The design of the phone is different and the Glyph lights up every time a notification appears. It feels futuristic. I wanted to use the ‘glyph flashes’ as an element to explain the Cyberpunk theme,” he adds.
The design team works closely together and generates many ideas. Sometimes they open up the process to others, staff and others around them and welcome input. Themes and colors change each season; For each collection, the target audience is different.
Some themes are rooted in Indian culture and taste like the recent “Mela” collection, which is curated and designed by designer Anuj Kohli. Others are niche collections aimed at a specific user base. For example, the K3 pencil case collection, designed by Sharma, was inspired by the Japanese comic series K3-Klutch Kick Komic. It consisted of six cases and each case was a frame from a comic book.
A large part of the design team will also work closely with independent artists who do not have a platform to display their artwork. Grewal, who has a master’s degree in graphic identity and branding from the University of the Arts London, says the idea is to take inspiration from Indian sensibilities and work them in a way that can resonate with young users. “I’m sure if we make a collection inspired by tribal art, it might not work, but if we incorporate those art forms and mix them with modern sensibilities, we’ll be able to reach a small community of users who appreciate that aesthetic and Indian art.” . scene,” he explains.
Bringing in local artists works two ways: the artist gets paid for each piece of art, and DailyObjects gets exclusive rights to the design, helping the company maintain a fresh selection of alternative-themed cases. DailyObjects recruits two to three artists every two months.
While some may argue that DailyObjects cases are expensive, Garg says his company charges 30 to 40 percent less for phone cases than what Apple sells at its store in India.
Apple Cases, Samsung Y one plus phones contribute 80 percent of sales on the platform. Garg says they plan to sell DailyObjects phone cases at 100 premium Apple resellers in India in the coming months. Apple Watch bands are also seeing an upswing.
DailyObjects phone cases are designed and printed in India. “Every piece of art you see on your products is original. We don’t believe in Disney or Marvel, it’s not our roots,” he said.