Das Keyboard 4 Mechanical Keyboards – 2014
In 2014, Das Keyboard came to us with a mission to develop the fourth generation of their professional line of computer keyboards. The effort was focused on improvements in core areas: high quality materials and finishes, improved mechanical rigidity, a slimmer housing design, and prominent media controls. The result of this effort is the Das Keyboard 4 line of keyboards. This new keyboard wraps the time-tested technology of mechanical key switches in a contemporary and slim housing topped with black anodized aluminum anchored by a steel chassis plate. The Das Keyboard 4 line of keyboards furthered Das Keyboard’s status as a leading brand in the niche mechanical keyboard industry, and is the go-to product for many professionals, creatives, and gamers.
Throughout the design and engineering process we worked closely with Das Keyboard’s manufacturing partner to create a product that was as slim and compact as possible. We developed a mechanical design approach that allowed us to securely attach a thick aluminum top panel without exposing any fastening hardware on the top surface. This aluminum panel is both the aesthetic anchor and structural backbone of the design. We fit a two-port USB hub along with media controls and a premium volume knob without adding thickness or sacrificing the iconic profile of the Das Keyboard product line.
Filling out Das Keyboard’s product offering, we also developed the the Das Keyboard 4C (pictured below). We eschewed the dedicated media controls and number pad keys to reduce the keyboard to a tenkeyless footprint, at 80% of the original’s size. We retained the two-port USB hub while keeping the thinness, premium materials, and assembly strategy identical to the full-width version.
Das Keyboard Branding
We also worked with Das Keyboard to develop a new brand mark to accompany the new line of Das Keyboard 4 products. The Das Keyboard mark expresses the distinct feeling of depressing a Das Keyboard mechanical key – crisp and tactile. It is simultaneously a D and > symbol, alluding to both the name Das Keyboard and its programmer roots. It represents the precise visceral experience of the product line. It’s bold, unapologetic, and forward-facing. This singular branding mark stands in for the full word-form logo when space is limited, or when a simple graphic is more impactful.
One of the most visible aspects of a keyboard’s design is the typography on the keys themselves. The Das Keyboard 4 design process included a complete refresh of the key legends’ font and layout. The keyboard’s hardware design is a modern interpretation of the most classic computer keyboards. Accordingly, we chose a font that has a timeless foundation with modern appeal. The characters are clean, but not sterile, with a focus on the legibility professional users value. Our design task also involved developing typographical layouts for many languages including Nordic, German, Russian, Spanish, and French.
Das Keyboard Model S – 2007
The relationship between our design team and Das Keyboard began in 2007 when we helped Das Keyboard realize the ambitious re-design of their product and brand identity starting with their third-generation keyboard, the Model S. This keyboard was offered in two versions: Professional, with printed keys, and Ultimate, with blank keys. We striped the keyboard design down to its essentials to achieve a striking iconic look. We selected materials and finishes to complement the precise mechanical action of the key switches. We also developed Das Keyboard’s brand identity, including logo, web site, and retail packaging. Though the design is now over a decade old, the Model S remains a favorite among enthusiasts.
“After several days with the keyboard, we’re convinced that the Das Keyboard Ultimate is really one of the best products that serious computer users should invest in.”
– Tom’s Hardware 2009