George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

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We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

It's not often that one can sit down with friends or family and someone’s phone doesn't interrupt. George Arriola and the team at Monohm, wanted to “refocus the users’ attention to real people and the real world.” Their answer was the personal device Runcible which debuted at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year and not only breaks the mold in terms of form, but also revolutionizes the user’s experience.

Arriola describes the two catalysts that sparked the invention of Runcible. The first was simply, “reclaiming time lost with my loved ones.” Runcible will never beep, alert or otherwise interrupt, “enabling us to keep our attention where it has always meant to be–heads up in the real world.” Despite Runcible’s departure from smartphone standards, it still makes calls, surfs the web, sends texts and takes photos, but does not run apps. It lets you stay connected when you choose to be. Taking the idea further was the second critical moment. A “100 Year Plan” envisions bespoke heirloom electronics, which George speaks about in more details in this TEDx video. Runcible is the first of 12 new products in development for Monohm.

With a seductively beautiful shape, Runcible’s round, 78mm-wide screen and convex natural wooden back fits in the palm of your hand. “We agonized during the design process,” Arriola explains, adding, “as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should.” They knew they wanted a round, beautiful architectural object and tested their assumptions with their kids, partners, and close circle of creative friends.

Modeled after keepsakes, Runcible takes inspiration from compacts used for makeup, pocket watches, compasses and magically water-polished stones. Turning to hardwoods and other heirloom-quality materials sourced from California, Hawaii and Kyoto, one of the challenges was intelligently tuning RF antennas to handle the various woods. Then there was the problem of manufacturing the wood with mechanical-engineering precision, which led the team to invent a new CNC process. The result shuns disposable “designed obsolescence” in favor of an heirloom electronic that gets saved and passed down—what’s inside can be replaced, repaired and updated.

The Monohm vision of the future brings us back to engaging in life while keeping us quietly connected, and looking gorgeous while doing it. You can read more about Runcible on Cool Hunting and sign-up for pre-orders online.

Illustration by Jason Ratliff, images courtesy of Runcible

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