Mike Macadaan's Los Angeles company This Is Ground is known for making simple leather tech accessories that are as beautiful as they are handy. Last year, he designed an organizer called the Cord Taco that became one of Apple's best sellers. Then, he created a leather iPad case with a hidden charger that juices your tablet throughout the day. His newest product promises to boost the company into a new league of cool: Called the Mod, it's a re-imagination of the trapper keeper, also known as the folio, that was hugely popular in the 1990s.
Macadaan said the product was born from a need for better looking, higher quality tech accessories. "Why on earth would you frame your expensive, beautiful gadgets in cheap, silicon cases?" he said. "That always seemed weird to me."
The Mod solves that problem, and others. Designed for what he calls "the modern adventurer," it's made from vegetable tanned leather that he sourced from a hyde curator in Napa, and is shaped like a small briefcase with zippers. Inside, it has pockets to organize all of your day-to-day clutter: tablets, subway cards, notebooks, cash, loose documents, and so on. There's even a slip for Pencil, a tech-friendly stylis by FiftyThree, and a built-in battery that can charge your iPad and iPhone simultaneously while you're on the go.
And it's totally customizable. Instead of a three ring binder, the Mod has magnets that grip onto different leather inserts. There are 10 total, and customers select which insert best fits their needs and lifestyle upon purchasing: The Musician's Mod has slots for guitar picks and earbuds; the Writer's has pouches for books and a reader's flashlight; and the Explorer's was designed to hold the outdoorsman's essentials, including pockets for s Swiss Army knife, a lighter, a compass, and a snap-on leather keychain loop for whistles and keys.
"I remember being obsessed with filofaxes and trapper keepers back in the day, especially the fact that you could customize them," Macadaan said. "This is a continuation of that story."
Although the current version of the Mod only holds one two-sided insert and the iPad mini, Macadaan is already gearing up to produce Mods that fit multiple inserts and older generation iPads. Because everything is manufactured near his home in Los Angeles, Macadaan gets to oversee product development firsthand.
"I live across the street from the Staples Center, which also happens to be near a string of old factories," he says. "I have access to everything, so I can stick my nose into every step of the process. That's the way I like it."