Designing the iPad Stand
We’d seen enough iPads resting on flat surfaces. It was time to elevate it, for your iPad and your posture! Here’s how we designed a stand we love.
The Challenge
We wanted a stand that would be closely related to our MacBook Dock, capturing some of the defining elements of that product. We also wanted to make something that disappeared when holding an iPad, while being pleasant to look at when not holding anything.
Beyond that, it needed to be soft and protective, stable and solid; it should function for both iPads with and without cases; and it should have an angle promoting easy interaction with the screen.
With this general idea in mind, we began to piece together details. We knew we were going to use wood, metal and felt, and configure them to have a similar floating effect that we designed into the MacBook Dock. This meant more bent metal and flat wood panels. From there we were free to play.
Visually Light, Literally Heavy
We used stainless steel to create the heaviness we needed for a product like this. No wiggle, no jostle. Just sure, sound footing for all your video-calling, youtube-ing, and recipe-reading needs.

It’s really heavy.

Sean trusts it so much, he’ll even use it as a place to set his (closed) MacBook, which of course is gently cradled by the felt insert—a material that brings softness and substance all at once.
Avoiding the Dump Truck
Starting with the combination of materials, we quickly settled on a bent metal shelf propped up via machined hardwood. However, without the iPad in place, we weren't comfortable with a monotonous visual. Sean realized that adding a bent hole in the stainless steel shifted the visual into more interesting territory.
Having the hole brought about two things:

(1) It would make the stand visually light, while keeping it physically heavy. (2) It would provide an alternate cord route.

These advantages were enough to justify the extra manufacturing difficulty, and we went for it.

Without the hole the surface looked like a big dump truck. Add the hole: take away the dump truck vibes altogether!

Lead Product Designer
The bent hole also complemented the layers of holes surrounding it. The wood has a chamfered hole with a shape reminiscent of the Grovemade key ring, and within that you can see the steel edge that extends just past the inner edge of the wood cutout.
The layered effect creates a lot of depth for a piece with a pretty small footprint.
More Metal Hints
We also chose to have a metal reveal on the outer edge. When looking straight on at the stand (uninhabited), you see the slight show of metal on the sides—a subtle visual cue signaling the combination of materials used and the intention in putting them together.

This is the part where it gets really fun — making tiny tweaks to create something sculptural.

Once the iPad is in the stand, the only part you see is the metal foot that holds it in place at the bottom. Another detail that gives a feeling of lightness to the product.
As for floating, we cut the wood panel with a hidden protrusion, so that when the metal is adhered to it, there’s a slight gap. This, plus the visual flow of the metal coming away from the wood, created the floating effect we were aiming for.
The End Is the Beginning
Look at the iPad stand and you’ll see its relation to the MacBook Dock. Look for the stand while your iPad is in it and you’ll just barely see it. Take a glance when you need some relief, some lightness—that’s what those material reveals and open spaces are there for.
It’s such a friendly part of our desk setup that, who knows, maybe someday we’ll add another stand to the line!
The iPad Stand
The iPad stand is available in two premium hardwood options, combined with stainless steel and 100% Merino wool felt.

Further Reading