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Interviewed by: Trevor Flynn [02.11.06]


Inside the head of a designer

Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with NZXT head designer Johnny H. for a quick chat about his thoughts on a wide range of issues.

HCW: Alright, just a bit of backround info first. Where is NZXT officially located, and when did the company first start up.

Johnny: Our headquarters are located in Taiwan, and NZXT has been in operation for nearly 2 years.

HCW: So what's your official title with the company?

Johnny: I'm currently the Product and Marketing Manager for NZXT

HCW: What did you do prior to your work with NZXT?

Johnny: I was doing some freelance websites on the side and attending school

HCW: So as product manager, how much input do you have into the actual chasis designs?

Johnny: Basically i have a large influence over the designs, interior body, and all specifications too with the case. I myself design the front panel. Then we move on to discuss body specifications with the engineers in taiwan.

HCW: What makes NZXT different from all the other chasis manufacturers out there?

Johnny: I would say we value design a bit higher than other manufacturers out there, also we try really hard to build a bond between us and our consumers. This was the reason why we introduced the community forums 2 years ago. Of course, we're always looking at marketing trend and in 2006 we plan to move towards some more innovative structural designs.

HCW: So what's the biggest challange that faces a newer/smaller chasis manufacturer like NZXT

Johnny: Getting our name out to mainstream consumers was and still is one of our biggest challenges. Since we have limited resources, we can't really afford to spend a lot in advertising and marketing in general. This is the reason why NZXT tries to breakthrough with every product because basically the product advertises itself. As the newcomer, we are at least 5 years behind the larger companies so gaining credibility and trust in the market has also been a problem. However, i believe NZXT is here to stay for good.

HCW: When the Guardian was first released, it was unlike anything else that was on the market at that time, however within months, there were blatant clones cases popping up. How big an issue is this type of "knockoff" scenario?

Johnny: I think it use to be a BIG issue, some popular cases had 20-30 copies at times! However since then the market has really matured. Any user who is purchasing cases above the 60-70 USD range will most likely trust and purchase brands they know. Many of the clone case companies have really fallen off the chart because their lack of original ideas.

HCW: So where do you get your inspiration for you case designs?

Johnny: I spend a lot of my time looking at auto designs, sci-fi film art books (iRobot, Star Wars just to name a few), and looking at products that appear in all sorts of markets like cellphone, speaker, furniture and electronics. My goal is really to establish case design as a legitimate medium for design expression and the shape of a computer case really has a lot of potential to bring some cool themes to life.

HCW: Did you play with Transformers as a kid?

Johnny: Ha Ha, I think you don't even have to ask, but i did find myself liking the Japanese Mechs Gundam more.

HCW: What the heck does the name NZXT stand for anyway?

Johnny: Doesn't really mean anything actually, but the idea behind the name was next generation, unique. So when we were designing the brand, we started out with NEXT, but we wanted it to be easily recognizable so we switched E with Z. (at the same time making it impossible to pronounce) It sounds completely crazy but that's basically how we came up with the name. Some of our forum members have spent a lot of time trying to decypher the name.

HCW: The new Lexa case is uses a very thin Aluminum chasis material, which can at times seem flimsy on first inspection. What advantages are gained from using this type of ultra thin aluminum and are there any tradeoff in terms of overall case structural integrity?

Johnny: The structure and layout of the Lexa is actually quite strong, as many editors and media outlets have noticed. The reason we went with a thinner aluminum is because we wanted to present a portable and light aluminum case. The idea was paired with the free lan carrying strap included with the case.

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