“There’s something about this guy.”
I knew he was somebody I wanted to know, but I had no idea. He was kind of dressed like Sherlock Holmes. Allen Hirsch is quite the artistic genius, but his demure demeanor masks a business side that has emerged to the forefront. For a great many years, Hirsch was chiefly a painter that shared his talents publicly through Time magazine for many years crafting masterful portraits for the then-staple of information. He’s also painted images that have been hung in the White House during the Clinton Administration.
However, he gave me a gift – The Handl. Per a company statement:
HandL is a secure, gripless case developed as an organic interface between hand and phone. Using a patented elastic and brace system, HandL applies easy pressure on just one or two fingers making your phone feel like it’s floating in your hand. “HandL makes your phone feel like a paint brush,“ says artist/creator, Allen Hirsch. “Easier more flexible device operation- with just one hand.” HandL converts into a portrait/landscape stand.
It was only right that I talk to Allen in his Manhattan home, which doubles as an art studio. Paintings and sculptures adorn the walls, many of them being self-portraits. With questions abound, we stayed focused on Allen’s latest foray into the competitive world of technology. I had already been using the Handl for months after my initial meeting with Mr. Hirsh and I still wanted to chat with him, a rarity. He explains what prompted him to create this unique offering.
“I’m a painter and I developed this product because I am interested in how we communicate through our hands. And I was painting one day with a paint brush in one hand and a metal phone in the other. I’m trying to text people and also paint and I realized then how inefficient…I noticed how the paint brush was like a fluid interface between thoughts and emotions on the canvas,” he says some what drolly. “But we express our thoughts and emotions on the phone, but we don’t have that interface. So I [started] to develop different prototypes that mimic the ease of the paint brush so we have a kind of organic flow between hand and phone. I worked with hundreds of prototypes until I came up with this handmade thing, which is Popsicle sticks and rubber bands.”
Allen then demonstrates why the Handl is one of the finest cases for phones, which was a highlight at the recent CE Week tech summit in New York City.
“It also becomes a stand,” he says making a quick adjustment to the case. “I wanted it to be as multi-functional as possible.”
Allen admitted that some of the designs are more “out there,” a nod to his roots in painting and eccentric lifestyle. He goes through a plethora of prototypes that are made from everything from faux furs to bubblewrap to a human derrière. Imaging being able to feel the softness that resembles a soft buttock on at your fingertips. Alas, the “exploration of touch aesthetic” as the he says.
“Because the phone is an extension of our bodies, I’m interested in mimicking our body also on the phone. So, I am working with some body parts on the phone…or the feeling of a body…when you’re touching the body. I want to make that experience more unified and also comment on it as an artist.”
“As in my artwork, I am alway trying to find the universal underneath everything and express that. How we touch things in a universal interest,” he says from his Manhattan studio. “When you try the product, you’ll realize how to sensitize yourself to your fingers and how you touch other things.”
For the Hip-Hop crowd, which I had to know, Allen says he’ll going to have some deluxe items that are more on the higher end side.
“This is about luxury for your fingers,” he says holding a Handl made of faux snake skin. “You’ll feel a luscious touch when you hold your phone.”
The truth is, the Handl is an intriguing product, but not as intriguing as Allen Hirsh. A few moments with him, you realize the product is just an extension of the man that created it, which begs the question: what next?
He’s coy, but Hirsh intends to bring some of his more unconventional designs to come to market, which will certainly arouse the curiosity of users. It is my hope that users of the Handl become more interested in Hirsh.
He’s got a story to tell.
More on that shortly.