Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com
- MTN Approach backcountry accent ski
- Designer: Cory Smith, John Kaiser, Bob Carrasca, and Tyler Swain, Pillar Product Design LLC
- Location: Seattle, WA
- Category: Consumer Products Award: Professional Notable
The MTN Approach system is the first ever hinged back country ski that allows you to fold and store into the space of a conventional backcountry day pack. The system is lighter, faster than conventional split board systems as well as other climber skis on the market. Our focus was the collapsible binding system design.
What's the latest news or development with your project?
The MTN Approach Ski system had their initial production release in June 2011. The product was first introduced at SIA (Ski Industries of America) in Feb 2011. Since that time frame the MTN approach System has received numerous acknowledgments and awards from SIA, ISPO and multiple industry specific magazine ads. The latest news is the excitement and support of top pro snowboard athletes in the industry who are using this system. It is the greatest honor when pro snowboard athletes are on your product because they see the benefit and a tool that allows them to push their skills as well as access completely new terrain. It is a good feeling when pro athletes want to be on your product not because they are being paid but because they see the ultimate benefits of this innovative system. MTN Approach System has reached out to new countries from Norway to Argentina. It is really amazing how quickly this system is gaining momentum. See more on our blog.
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
When developing the MTN Approach system with owner Cory Smith, we were constantly faced with budgetary and timing constraints. The typical issue of having very little money to get this product off the ground combined with even less time to bring it to market. I realized that Cory was in for the long haul and dedicated to making this idea a reality when he sold his 4WD Toyota truck that he used to commute to his day job at Smith Optics to pay for design and development work that Pillar Product Design had embarked on. So I don't know if Cory ended up taking the bus to work every day for a period of time, but it really showed all of us how important this ideas was to him and that we needed to do whatever it took to make sure we developed the best system we could no matter how long the hours and commitment level.
What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
Many patents came out of the development of this product. The one a-ha moment that the Pillar Product Design team specifically came across was when we were working on the binding system and we developed a fold-down heel loop design. Many of the challenges with this product included: weight, strength and making the unit as compact as possible. We really started looking at unique folding mechanism from a multitude of in and out of the industry. As we evolved the heel loop system and explored new mechanisms, we were able to create a simple system that allowed for foldability, low-profile nesting and infinite size adjustability. This new mechanism allowed MTN Approach and Pillar Product Design to receive a joint utility patent.