Founded in 2010, Brooklyn’s Madbury Club is a self-proclaimed “functionally dysfunctional studio experiment” made up of designers, artists, photographers, videographers, carpenters and makers of all kinds. Essentially, dealing in innovation and creation and a bunch of adventure, they were the perfect gang for Microsoft to join forces with to showcase the full potential of the new Surface Pro 4 and the Surface book.
As part of their Surface Experiments program (which invites creatives to do more through experimentation and collaboration to realize new ideas with the Microsoft Surface), Microsoft partnered with The Madbury Club to help them realize a dream project—the Mobile Projection Unit (MPU). The MPU’s base is an ’80s-era Suzuki Carry mini-truck (imported from Japan) and The Madbury Club built an extension on the back. The extension—a mobile studio—includes a dual workspace, boasts a projector on top, and is powered by marine batteries and solar panels. We spoke with Madbury Club founder Phillip T. Annand about the MPU’s inception, using the Surface, and just how it stands up against the old pen and paper.
The mini truck might be an unexpected choice for some, but Annand says it was the perfect choice for the entire Madbury Club team. “The Suzuki Carry is the embodiment of a lot of our childhood dreams, it’s like someone pulled a concept out of a toy chest and made it real,” he tells us. “The function and capability are genuinely incredible but the bottom line is that visually and aesthetically it’s beautiful as a design object.” And the Madbury Club only added to the vehicle’s allure by conceptualizing and building a structure that blends simplicity, function and delightful design—and the whole project took them just three weeks. That said, “There were for sure some well placed all-nighters there at the end,” Annand tells us.
Despite being a fan of the traditional pen and paper, Annand says there are—of course—plenty of benefits when using the Surface. “I’m a huge fan of pen and paper, I generally don’t advocate for using anything else, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s easy to spill beer on paper, misplace illustrations, tear sheets and the list goes on and on. Not to mention the process of digitizing finalized illustrations is far from fool proof,” he says. The ability to backtrack, share with his fellow designers and more made the entire process more efficient. He tells us, “Being able to work on a tablet and skip all of those steps and potential mishaps is incredibly efficient and feels like we’re moving closer to all the rad shit Tom Cruise had in ‘Minority Report,’ which is excellent.” Madbury Club also used OneDrive, which allowed the team to share working files and collaborate on sketches simultaneously.
Annand explains how he used the Surface to design the MPU in this video, but also gave us a few extra insights—mostly about just how simple it is to use. His favorite app on the device is Autodesk SketchBook, and he tells us that almost anybody can master it. He says, “There’s an immediate familiarity, especially with sketching and rendering programs. You pick the Surface up and start touching things with your fingers, nothing could be more easy.”
Videos courtesy of Microsoft