Redesigning the MacBook Dock
We launched our first MacBook dock in 2015—it's a crucial piece of the office-scape for many people. As we matured, we realized it deserved a redesign. Read on to learn why we did it and how it happened.
Why We Redesigned
Rewind to 2015. We had been working on the MacBook dock design for a while, but we weren't totally happy with it. Sometimes that happens, and because we'd spent so much time on it, we had to just put it out into the world to see how it did.
(Original MacBook Dock design, circa 2015.)
Turns out it was difficult and expensive to make, and it didn’t sell well enough to justify the cost. So we seized the opportunity for a redesign. As a company, we were in a period of embracing 'the float'—floating surfaces, floating lines, floating silhouettes. The old MacBook dock looked too dense and blocky. We had to install a separate laser-cut insert for each different MacBook model. We wanted something simpler and more elevated.

So we went into the redesign with two guiding lights:

(1) Make it float.
(2) Make it universal.

The essence wouldn’t change: Stable, sturdy, and good-looking whether or not there’s a computer in it.

We couldn’t have designed this product back in 2015. We've matured a lot since then.

Lead Product Designer
Drawing It Up
At this point we’d started to design products with bent metal and flat pieces of wood attached (see: iPad Stands), and we realized this would be a positive shift from the sandwiched form of the old dock. What if we kept the same materials, but played with the shapes and lightened it up a bit?
We liked an A-frame silhouette, and the idea of creating sturdy feet. So we raised the height and angled the walls out. This meant no more block forms of wood. Instead we had flat panels for a sleek, continuous visual.
Those straight lines opened a space for contrasting curves. Enter: bent metal. We opted for stainless steel, giving the dock a heaviness it didn’t have before, so it stays put as you use it.

We shrank the visual mass but actually made it physically heavier, and more stable.

Now we had 'sturdy,' but we needed the softness necessary for cradling and protecting a high-value tech product.
Merino wool felt was the best option. It's a tricky process to insert it into the deep groove, but the hard way is often worth it—curves and angles, hard and soft all combined nicely.
Seriously Airy
We cut out the sides of the curved metal piece, creating flaps that we could secure to the wood. This helped achieve the floating effect and stabilized the structure. But it also created a natural space for ventilation and airflow, a bonus for everyone out there trying to keep their computers cool.

SEAN KELLY (Lead Designer): We don’t like simple slots. We wanted to make this one interesting.

So in addition to looking airy, the new dock actually is airy. Heavy, with a lightness of being.
The Final Thing
When we finished the process, we were happy.

We’d created a product deep and stable enough to accommodate multiple versions of MacBooks. One with an interesting, ventilated slot and soft lining. And it had the float!

Had we followed our guiding lights? Yes, and they brought us to a pedestal fit for the beautiful computers it’s designed to hold.

Had we made a product that we’d be happy to have on our desk, even if it weren’t holding a computer? Yes!

Every product we design has to look good with the device and on its own.

At last we could say goodbye to the old MacBook dock, thanking it on the way out for leading us to this one.
The MacBook Dock
The MacBook dock was designed with a minimal footprint to maximize your desktop real estate, and give you a secure home for your MacBook Pro.

Further Reading