The Story Behind the Ray iPad Stand

by Nicole Hodsdon

The Story Behind the Ray iPad Stand

I often get asked about how a Ciseal product comes to be - what inspires the designs, what the process involves, how the products are made, etc.  Each Ciseal product has a different story behind it and a different inspiration.  Some products were created to solve a problem or to fill a need.  Others were inspired by a shape or place or thing and I set out to reinterpret that inspiration as a bent plywood object.  With such different inspirations, each one of Ciseal's products is unique in and of itself, so the process of making them varies a bit as well.  That variation is what’s so magical to me, and it's why I find so much joy in making each one.  To kick off this behind the scenes series, lets start with Ciseal’s first product - the Ray iPad Stand.

Cablik Enterprises Mid Century

Photo: Cablik Enterprises


In setting out to design and make the Ray, I gave myself a design brief: Create a Mid Century modern inspired tablet stand.  Mid Century was important to me because I love the style's combination of simple, modern lines with natural elements such as wood.  Also, I’m a bit obsessed with bent plywood (if you haven’t noticed by now), and Mid Century design is where bent plywood first found it’s form.  And it was to be a tablet stand because I wanted to create a product that would be useful as well as beautiful, and the tablet stands I had seen up until then just didn’t cut it from an aesthetic perspective.  Sure, they functioned well by holding a tablet upright, but most of them were anything but beautiful.  

Hive Modern Eames LCW

Photo: Hive Modern


The design process began with a focused sketching session of just getting as many different ideas onto paper as possible.  I printed out a few mid century inspired interior photos for inspiration and went to work on a fury of thumbnail sketches with pen and paper.  Ultimately, the one tiny sketch I felt most drawn to was one inspired by the Eames LCW chair that was sitting in the corner of one of the living room photos I used for inspiration.  That perfectly molded piece that connects the seat to the back had just the right combination of beauty and usefulness that I was looking for in my iPad stand design.  

Ciseal Ray iPad Stand

Having chosen a design direction, I had to refine it into a shape that would work perfectly for the purpose of holding an iPad while at the same time retaining the clean, modern shape of it’s inspiration.  This is where my engineering side gets to wield it’s numbers and calculations while the design side babysits and advocates for something that’s really, really good looking.  The more versatile the design the better, so I wanted it to be able to hold as many different sizes of tablets, books, photos, etc. as possible.  I won’t bore you with the details, but the final design you see is the result of many, many sketches, mock ups, and calculations.  I played with so many angles and depths and widths to find the perfect viewing angle and the most versatile dimensions.

Layers of Veneer

With the design finalized, it was time to make the real thing!  I made a two part mold for this one to ensure there would be even pressure across the entire surface.  

Removing Ray from Mold

Once the glue has dried, I take it out of the mold.  The edges are then cut off to even out the layers and trim the stand to size.

Ray Edge Cutoffs

And then the edges get sanded and sanded and sanded to polish up the lovely layers.  Seriously, sanding takes soooooo much time, but it’s absolutely worth it in the end!

Ray Sanding

Then we hand wipe the polyurethane finish onto the stand in multiple coats with even more sanding in between each one to create a super durable finish.  Then cork feet are added to keep it from sliding around and our stamp of approval is added once everything is perfect.  

Ray Stamp of Approval

With the stand complete, it came time to decide on a name for it.  Being influenced by Charles & Ray Eames' LCW chair, I thought that naming it after Ray Eames would be more than appropriate.  Ray's influence as a woman designer in the Mad Men era is such an inspiration to me, so the name has a double significance.  The Ray iPad Stand is available in our three standard woods: Birch, Oak, and Walnut along with a Ray exclusive wood, Sapele.  Check them out in our shop and get one for your iPad!

Ciseal Ray Tablet Stand

Nicole Hodsdon
Nicole Hodsdon