When 41-year-old sculptor, Scott Freeland, dreamed up the wild idea of creating a retro iPhone dock, he never imagined that the entire planet would actually stop and take notice.
Just days after we first featured Scott's stunning iRetrofone base, the central Florida artist was overwhelmed with thousands of emails, untamable tech press coverage across the globe and even serious interest from both Target and pre-eminent British designer, Paul Smith.
It seems like everybody's itching to wrap their hairy man hands around the wildly popular iRetrofone, an iPhone docking station sculpted by Freeland Studios. The design loosely borrows inspiration from the iconic 1937 type 302 phone created by industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss. The idea has fueled the imaginations of iPhone owners unlike any dock creation that's come before it.
When I caught up with Scott Freeland, I learned that his retro phone business is booming. His wife Megan responds to over 50 emails a day along with fielding an endless stream of calls about Scott's little iPhone juggernaut.
"When I started making the iRetrofone I was making one a day," Scott said, "I can make about 25 in a day now. I've made two molds and tweaked my processes to up the production. Right now we're getting ready to drop our lead time to two weeks."
Scott has worked as an artist and sculptor for the past six years under his Freeland Studios banner. An average project contracted by the artist typically takes four months and hauls in over $50,000 dollars.
The iRetrofone, which is hand-sculpted and hand-cast in urethane resin, was originally designed as a one-off. The completed units sell for $195, allowing slick docking for an iPhone device while routing voice communications directly through the old school handset.
Downloading a retro dialer app lets iPhone users make calls the slow and painful way, just like grandpa did ages ago. Freeland waxed poetic about the iPhone dock that's making him famous.
"As a sculptor, when I need something in my life I make it," Freeland said, "That was the phone I had as a kid. I looked online until I saw a phone that looked like what I had and then I made it. My job is to make things."
Freeland candidly admitted that he carries some formidable girth around his cheeks, making it a tad difficult to use his iPhone in a way most of us take for granted. That's when the idea of an alternate handset came rushing in like a blinding beam of pure inspiration.
"I'm a big guy, so when I talk on the phone, my face hits the buttons," Scott said with a deep chuckle. "To me the answer was just obvious, I'm an old school guy."
After visiting the Freeland Studios website it became instantly obvious that Scott is a sculptor with remarkable vision, creating awe-inspiring fountains, heavily themed environments along with a brilliant Bat Boat and a classic "Rat Fink" car. The iRetrofone has yet to make an appearance in Freeland's portfolio next to his prolific body of work.
"An artist follows their passion. When I created this thing I wasn't expecting to sell any. I just do things because I'm driven." Scott said.
Although Freeland and his wife own a fine art studio and commercial warehouse, the iRetrofone is created in a little 20' X 12' art studio just outside of their home. Allowing for long work days while still remaining close to the family ranch. I asked Scott what he's planning next as he cranks out iPhone docks by the dozen.
"I wanna make about six to eight versions of this type of phone," Scott said, "I'm not gonna copy a phone that's been done, but I'm gonna go nuts and make stuff like a skull with the iPhone in it."
I joked with Scott about making his way onto the Ellen DeGeneres show with his device, or maybe even an appearance on Oprah. I wasn't too surprised by his response.
"Initially when I made this I sent one to Ellen. In my head I thought she has an iPhone and makes calls to people from her show," Freeland said, "She got one of the very first ones I produced."
"It would be awesome if it made it onto her show. This thing is so cool, I figured Ellen should have one."
While it's still too early to predict what great heights the iRetrofone has yet to scale, it's certain that it's only the tip of the creative iceberg for Freeland Studios.
"What happened here, I've been waiting my entire life to happen," Scott said, "It's ironic that this thing is so simple and yet it has caught the world's attention. I'm just ready to bust out."
I hope Ellen DeGeneres is paying close attention here. If she's smart, she'll carve out a guest spot for the iRetrofone on her talk show before Jay Leno scoops it up and chins it to death. And hopefully she'll nab Scott Freeland for an appearance before he starts routing calls through a publicist. Trust me on this, it's just a matter of time now.
Good luck with that Scott. You've earned it!