The Distillery

Feature Friday: Snooze on November 14 2014

Recently we were beyond delighted to see the Distil Union Snooze iPhone Alarm Dock featured in Refinery29's list of 12 Smart Home Buys You Didn't Know You Needed.

"When it comes to smart technology, why limit your options to a telephone? Swap just one or two items in your home — for a sleeker, smarter model, and you're on your way to simpler, more streamlined living." 

Simpler, more streamlined living? Yes, please! Why not apply some of the conveniences we enjoy from the devices our pockets to the homes that we inhabit!? At the same time, let's make our devices fit a bit more seamlessly into our lives – something we're particularly passionate about as designers here at Distil Union.

Like a lot of folks, we use the alarm on our iPhones to wake up in the morning. Typical speaker docks take up too much space, and other iPhone docks didn't offer the basic must-have functionality of a bedside dock: A simple snooze bar. So we set out to design the ideal bedside stand that would turn an iPhone into the alarm clock of your dreams!

Snooze iPhone Alarm and Clock Dock 
Refinery29 highlights Snooze's design inspiration, Eames and Braun. Made of solid Maple with a rubber top, Snooze is designed to improve your waking-up experience in a number of ways. Snooze gives your iPhone a proper home on your nightstand in a footprint no bigger than the iPhone itself. Gone are the days of a sleepy swat sending your iPhone soaring off your table and onto the floor – or worse, accidentally turning off your alarm instead of simply snoozing like you wanted (been there, done that – so sorry I'm late!). Just like the alarm clocks you remember, hitting the top of Snooze activates iPhone's snooze function, so you can roll over for a few more Z's. (Mind you, DU can't be held responsible for your tardiness due to over-snoozing).

A small detail that makes a big difference: a pass-through on the back holds your charging cable in place. Now instead of falling behind your furniture, your iPhone cable is right there where you need it when your head's ready to hit the pillow after a long day's work. And the Snooze App turns your iPhone into a dimmable clock display, allowing your iPhone to do double-duty as your bedside timepiece. 

We're so proud to see Snooze chosen as part of such a good-looking collection of helpful tech for your home. For the Distil Union live/work space, you bet we're drooling over Ring the HD video doorbell that works remotely, and the sleek, high-tech Hyde Clamp Light controlled via Bluetooth (plus, it just looks rad). Check out the slideshow to see what they had to say about Snooze (SPOILER ALERT: they said eye-catching *swoon*) and learn a dozen more ways you can raise your home's tech cred! 

This week in photos! November 14 2014

+ snapped some wintery shots of Wallys and Snooze all cozy on a new office blanket – how long can we resist turning the heat on?

+ made a collage of photos documenting the process of building our own point-of-purchase displays: designing, material sourcing, wood cutting, silkscreening, stamping, glueing, then basking in the glory of our little retail-ready stands. Thinking this will become a more involved blog post here soon for those of you curious about DIY product promotion -- we saved about $2,200!

+ getting the word out about this Saturday's trunk show by our dear friend Adrienne Antonson of STATE the Label, held at The Commons just down the street from our old office – looking forward to gift shopping and a stroll down memory lane :)

+ shared the recipe for Lindsay's Lazy Smoothie: leftover cold-brew coffee from The Daily (a new favorite local cafe and pantry) blended with two frozen bananas and a pinch of cayenne. BAM!

Follow along over on our Instagram to enjoy similar snazzy DU pics in your feed.

5 Tips to Slim Your Wallet: Simply Carry Less and Lighten Your Everyday Load November 11 2014

Did you guys notice, the new iPhones are bigger? Sure our technology can do more, but now we have more in our pockets. Luckily, the days of carrying every card, receipt and bills in your wallet "just in case" are far behind us. Not only do fat bulges in your back pocket look bad and cause unnecessary stress and wear to your clothing (and your body, guys), there's simply no need for hauling all that stuff around with you every day! Keep reading to learn about our wallets that can help you downsize and our tips on how to lighten you wallet load:

1. 5 cards or less We're not gonna argue with carrying an ID and debit card. We're also on board with carrying a credit card, and subway card or metro pass, even an access card for work. Everything else can go from your everyday wallet. Scared? Try it for a day... then a week... Some cards might creep back in if you let 'em, but we bet you'll be happily surprised at what you don't miss.  Plus, we can help you. We have several products that can help you easily slim your wallet during this transition. 

2. Go digital Store electronic versions of 90% of your cards, especially all those loyalty cards and infrequently used other cards. Some free apps we've tried are KeyRing and Card Mate. Look for an app that is password protected (duh). Then there are apps such as LastPass and LifeLock that go above and beyond – great if you're looking to do more than just save your grocery-store discount card and local cafe punchcard.

3. Take pictures of your receipts No reason to store receipts (or mementos) in your wallet – your wallet is not a library. Let an old shoebox be your nostalgic archives, and use apps like Evernote or Concur to keep electronic copies of receipts. Or, simply take a picture of the receipt to keep track of it. YOU CAN DO THIS. YOU CAN SLIM YOUR WALLET.

4. Carry less cash While having some paper money on you is a good idea in general, unless you're doing something on the shady side there's no reason to carry a wad of cash on your person daily. Most everywhere accepts plastic, and there are a number of convenient services to limit the need: Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Venmo and Cash – just to name a few. 

5. Get a thinner wallet Whether it's psychological or physical, having a slimmer wallet is a great way to reinforce the idea and behavior of carrying less! Discipline, young grasshopper. If you’re feeling adventurous, try our Wally Bifold. This guy is designed to carry 12 cards and all of your cash with his sneaky pull-tab access and interior money clip. Did we mention he is half the size of a regular wallet? Or if you're feeling extra bold, spring for something like the Wally Sleeve – we designed him to be just a slip of leather with a handy pull-tab, resulting in the slimmest wallet imaginable that still gives you easy access to your now minimized everyday carry. 

Aaaaahhhhhh, relief. Your wallet is now a handsome and manageable size! We told you it was easy to slim your wallet! Your jeans will thank you, your spine will thank you, and YOU will thank you. If you're carrying around a Costanza clunker, take a picture of it and tag us @distilunion. Bring it on, try to shock us with your worst. The first step is admitting that you have a problem... And Distil Union is here to help you slim your wallet.

A panorama of DU HQ October 31 2014

The new Distil Union live/work space = office downstairs + Nate's home upstairs. Although the space has approximately 40 less cabinets, this setup is quite similar to our very first DU home – sometimes we get deja vu... Bright. Spacious. And still with the King Street vibe we love so much. We'll have to have y'all over soon for drinks out on the world's smallest porch ;) Hey, we can see the Apple Store from here!

Featured Review: Mr. Dabney gets his hands on our Wally Bifold for you October 31 2014

Wallets. There are lots of them out there to choose from – especially minimal wallets, which are understandably all the rage. Currently, our Wally Bifold is only available on our webstore; our Amazon stock has sold out. So, what if you're the kind of person who likes to get your hands on one before you buy it?! Want to touch the wallet... We can talk about Wally all day, but sometimes you want an outside opinion. And lucky for you, there are some amazing bloggers out there who are doing the hard work for ya -- here's a favorite hands-on, this time from Vaughn Dabney over at Mr. Dabney. Thank goodness for a virtual try-before-you-buy.

On the outside of the wallet, there is a nylon strap cleverly peeking out of each side. When it is pulled, it raises the contents of what’s inside the pocket! I love it. I keep my credit cards and license on one side with business cards on the other. When I pull out my wallet now, I take my time so people can see just how genius this is…no really.  

Score one for you, impressing friends and strangers alike with some subtle wallet magic! The dual-pocket organization was improved when we updated the Bifold design with one red and one black ribbon – this way you can tell at a glance which pocket is which. Being able to manipulate the existing materials to enhance functionality without adding even a hint of complexity feels really good.

We also spy a feature request: A clear window for showing your ID. We hear you on this – a feature we noticed on other wallets when in the development phase, but decided against for Wally. Ultimately a window adds non-essential functionality that we deemed not worth the complexity: A window on the inside isn't possible because of the pull-tab construction, and a window on the outside would add a function that not everyone needs or wants to the detriment of the wallet's aesthetic. It's simple and intuitive enough to pull the ribbon to present your ID, keeping the design clean and your contents totally undercover. Here we've applied two of renowned industrial-designer Dieter Rams' Ten Principles of Good Design: "3. Good design is aesthetic" and "10. Good design is as little design as possible." All of this being said, if an ID window is a must for you, then Wally is not for you – and we're grateful that Vaughn points this out in his review. 

Something especially nice (to us, anyway) about Mr. Dabney's experience which he shared in his post: he discovered our Wally Bifold on Amazon – which is no small feat, as there are a few wallets on Amazon. And then he did the leg work to research Distil Union before making his purchase. He noticed we're a tiny team, and sounds like he was impressed by our live/work space here in Charleston (we've moved up the street since then, we think he'd be even more impressed with our NEW space!). 

Do you do that when you find a product you like – dig a little deeper to find the scoop or the story behind it? I know we do, which is why Nate and I are building Distil Union the way we are! Sometimes it is that extra layer behind a product or brand that makes the difference, makes a personal connection. We've since been in touch with Vaughn and can't wait to share more DU gear for his feedback. So be sure follow him for other DU hands-on reviews, as well as other great articles and product giveaways. Three cheers for making personal connections with fellow persons!

First there was Ninja. Then there was Cowboy... October 07 2014

What color would YOU like to see added to the Wally lineup?! Lindsay votes gray…

If we add a Gray Wally to the lineup, what should we name him? 
Dapper Gray
Gentleman Gray
Space Gray (wink wink)
________ Gray
Tweet us your suggestions!

(Shown here: Wally Case for iPhone 6)

We’ll be building our own point-of-purchase displays: October 02 2014

And by “we” I mean “Nate”… If you have a shop or know a shop that’d like to sling some Wallys, please let us know!

It’s Career Day! October 01 2014

This morning we visited the Academic Magnet High School for three back-to-back career day sessions where Nate introduced some budding artists and engineers to the field of Industrial Design. Any questions? 

Where's Wally September 27 2014

Srsly y’all, he slim. Nate picked up his 6 preorder today and is flaunting a Wally sample… Space Gray and Cowboy Brown are so, so sexy together.

Strolled through the Hermes leather exhibition September 22 2014

Happened upon a brief but informative exhibit about leather and the history of Hermes at the PMQ Design Mall -- which is, by the way, our new dream office location -- complete with an itty bitty retail shop of curated designy goods. If you're ever in Hong Kong, go shopping at PMQ, you won't regret it!

A night ride on the Star Ferry September 22 2014


We found designshop heaven, and it is a mall called PMQ. September 20 2014

Bought some treats at an HK fave, Kapok.

Hong Kong Apple Store, IFC Mall September 20 2014

So fun visiting the Apple Store today with all these happy people! (at Apple Store 香港旗艦店)

We heart the MTR September 20 2014

The tiled stations. The easy navigation. Oh, and Octopus cards in our Wallys. 

Lots and lots of bikes x umbrellas September 17 2014


That’s hot. September 16 2014

Red hot. PMS485 uncoated, to be precise.

At the printers with all the Wally packaging! September 16 2014

Literally hot off the press!

This was yesterday outside the factory September 15 2014

...but today there’s a typhoon!? We were lucky, only heavy rains and some wind.

Soon to launch: Wally Euro September 15 2014

We'll be offering two different versions of the Wally Euro, both sized to accommodate larger bills (like Canada, UK, Asia and of course Europe). One version will have two pull-tab pockets (like the Wally Bifold), and the other will have one pull-tab pocket and a squeeze-lock coin pocket! It’s seriously serving us well in Hong Kong.

We just approved final samples today — look out, world, here comes a Wally Wallet for the rest of ya! On track to be available for purchase here on our webstore in plenty of time for holiday shopping.

UPDATE: Wally Euro is now available here!

Factory visit pics! September 15 2014

Today we got to see the big machine that stamps the logo into all the Wally leather — we’ll be using a smaller logo size in a new location; he’s looking more refined than ever.

Swatches galore!! September 15 2014

We hit the Hong Kong Fabric Market and went cross-eyed looking for new liner material for Wally wallets… It’s so hard to pick a favorite, but we have and can’t wait to unveil it!

Nate n’ noodles. September 14 2014

at 金鱔Korean Restaurant

Lindsay n’ Miffy. September 14 2014

...and green tea + black sesame + honey jasmin froyo… 

WE MADE IT! September 12 2014

And already had our first meeting. Let's do this thing, Asia!