Although fabric textile is commonly used in consumer electronic products, it is rarely seen on mobile phones due to its stretchy nature and tendency to collect dirt. Project Fluffy was a collaboration involving a paint and texture molding suppliers. The goal was to introduce fabric-like texture and tactility to hard plastic surfaces, aiming to create a CMF application option that goes beyond the possibilities of traditional textiles.

Note: Photo from Vifa to represent design intent


The trial started with narrowing down to an in-mold texture that closely mimics the feel of fabric. Given the numerous options available in the market for uncoated applications, not all texture options were ideal for our scenario. As the topcoat has a thicker consistency, it tends to obscure minor textures. This required us to balance between aesthetics and practicality.

Image: Various in-mold texture options

Next, we collaborated with a paint supplier to experiment with the fluffy topcoat on a flat surface, exploring different color options, fine-tune colors to meet our target, and finally, apply it to the fabric-like in-mold texture for the ultimate appearance. Once the appearance aligned with our design vision, these samples underwent testing in the lab and successfully met our standard criteria. Trialed and confirmed, Project Fluffy was all set for action!

Image: Various texture x topcoat trials

Since there wasn’t an immediate project needing this application just yet, we added this CMF solution to our digital CMF library, which is accessible to our design colleagues around the world as a valuable resource. I initiated the digital CMF library prior to Project Fluffy, with the goal of offering our global team members, particularly those more distant from manufacturing, a central collection for accessing available and up-to-date CMF solutions. It includes practical information about each CMF application, such as recommendations, pros and cons, and a step-by-step breakdown of the process. Additionally, we send physical samples to studios worldwide for reference purposes.

Consumer Research

That’s not all! We also introduced this effect in one of our consumer research, alongside other surface treatment samples. In a study carried out in the U.S. and Brazil, alongside other surface treatment samples, the findings highlighted a remarkably positive reaction to the Fluffy effect. Approximately 70% of participants found it appealing, surpassing even the popularity of commonly used metallic coatings found on entry-level mobile devices. Consumers praised its unique texture, durability, secure grip, and distinctive quality that sets it apart from other finishes.

Note: To avoid other external factors taking affect, as well as the available resources for sample making, the fabric-like texture was not included in the study.

Deliverable: CMF concept through prototype and consumer research
Industry: Consumer tech
Company: Motorola (a Lenovo company)
Team: Rina Shin, Chris Groszczyk, Andrea Hedl, Kobe Ding
Year: 2017

Problem-solving ??? ?????. Former head of CMF at Motorola. A New York-based and world-traveling Design Consultant with over 13 years of specialty in CMF Design. 高雄囡仔,前摩托羅拉CMF設計團隊負責人,目前定居於紐約並遊牧世界,任自由撰稿人兼CMF設計顧問,持續投入在CMF設計的科普推廣,並為WGSN及羅技等公司提供CMF專案支持或諮詢服務。

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