Anodized aluminum, check. Sleek forms, check. Minimalist aesthetic, check. The MNL MK-1 from Manual really looks like something Jony Ive would craft with his own hands, but in fact, the design comes from the folks at (acasso), a Seoul-based industrial design and engineering studio. The camera was designed for Manual NYC, a high-end camera company specializing in analogue photography. The MNL MK-1 is a premium film camera concept that incorporates anodized aluminum with ergonomic matte silicone, creating an aesthetic that’s both ergonomically comfortable, and futuristic/cutting-edge. The camera’s retrofuturistic approach also extends to the fact that even though it looks like a modern shooter, it runs on film.
Designer: (acasso) for Manual NYC
The MNL MK-I has an undeniably premium aesthetic, with its clean, almost Japanese Zen-inspired forms that direct the eye wonderfully to all of the camera’s details. The design ditches the textured black leather-inspired plastic grip for silicone – a choice that seems outwardly odd, but goes perfectly with the upper aluminum elements. This results in a jump from matte to metallic, creating an interplay of reflections and contrast that’s difficult to ignore. The camera’s front features a fixed Carl Zeiss lens, along with a viewfinder on top, a flash beside it, and a simple embossed Manual logo molded into the silicone.
(acasso)’s work with detailing feels incredibly inspired by Jony Ive’s own work for Leica, but in a way that really takes the minimalist style forward. The knobs, dials, and buttons on the MNL MK-I are just beautiful to look at and even more so to the touch. Subtle use of the color red helps the controls stand out wonderfully against their matte metal background, with the additional use of backlit displays on the top left, around the film rewind knob, for things like counting the number of images left, or knowing when the flash is toggled. It’s possible these displays aren’t built into metal, but instead, are placed under metallic plastic, which allows light to pass through.
As simple as the camera looks, using it is designed to be just as easy. A knob on the top lets you control exposure, while the lens ring lets you adjust focus. A shutter button located above the on/off switch lets you take photos, which then get captured on the film reel. The rest is pretty self-explanatory for anyone born before 2000…