Insight: Paolo Fancelli
His design style: "more chameleon than dictator"
It has been 10 years since Paolo Fancelli marked his arrival in Geneveys-sur-Coffrane. This designer's contribution to FELCO Passion has been jam-packed with success. He shares his thoughts on the importance of industrial design at FELCO.
Paolo Fancelli immediately begins with:"I am not one of those designers who wants to impose the latest fad at whatever cost". Behind his work, lies the desire to improve the quality of daily life. "In order to find the best solution, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the person who is destined to use that particular object".
Flashback. Ten years have only just passed since Paolo began working for FELCO. What does a FELCO industrial designer do?"My role involves displaying the qualities of a product aesthetically using the medium of shape. And facilitating its use", he explains. Paolo is involved right from the initial stage; he works alongside the research team. He enjoys playing the part of the "faux-naïf": "at times, I can ask silly questions, that can set things in motion, things which would otherwise be disregarded".
Often, the designer is approached upon immediate initiation of the manufacturing process stage of a new tool."When working on a new product, you attempt to quickly formulate ideas on design and ergonomics", explains Marc Wermeille, Product Development Manager. "All our tools are focused on the hand and the gripping ability must be as perfect as possible".
As soon as ideas have been expressed, various technical options can be put forward."This design approach allows us to carry out an initial sorting process, eliminating certain options that may be realized from a technical perspective, but that do not match ideas on aesthetics and ergonomics", adds Marc.
Is it all about design?
What about aesthetics, ergonomics? Are designers concerned with anything else apart from style? For a split second, Paolo takes offence."We should reflect on this word design. You see it as a form of 'stylization'. For me, it holds greater significance. Design is all about creation, aesthetics, material research, ergonomics." If you disregard the ergonomics, you are left with a nice object... a useless, nice object. Designers who are too dogmatic run this particular risk.
The industrial designer also works on ergonomics, which Marc defines as"the ability of a product to meet the requirements of use necessitated by the user". The FELCO tool must work with the body part with which it comes into contact. It acts as an "extension of the hand", Paolo clarifies.
The pruning shear was designed for a gardener, and is attentive to the gardener's character and lifestyle."It is for this reason that I envisaged natural, balanced, effortless shapes for FELCO". The buzzword is uncomplicated: "effortless". This is the central theme governing Paolo's work. Marc Wermeille agrees.
And it is with this same aim in mind that the designer"works the interaction between the different components of the drawn up tool".
Thanks to the effortless, uncomplicated nature, the shape allows for all possible usage requirements. Marc:Firstly, the customer selects his FELCO product. Then, they adapt the ergonomics, making the product their own". The user should be able to use the tool according to personal preference. These two men are only too aware that the tool is essentially intended for "arbitrary everyday use". Unfussy, unrestrictive ergonomics allows for a tool that suits the requirements of the majority of people. Its eventual purpose is irrelevant. Who would have thought that the FELCO 800 would exhibit an upward-facing control trigger?
The quest to find suitable solutions
A designer's input should result in a more aesthetically pleasing and more ergonomically advanced object. At what price? Marc admits that the products drawn up by Paolo are often more problematic to produce than those of their competitors. Consequently, they are more costly. For Marc, it is all about finding that right balance between difficulties encountered at the production stage and added-value for the user. FELCO must remain loyal to its tradition of providing that bit extra to its customers. Be it in terms of ergonomics or the visual aspect. The aesthetic aspect is equally important for products aimed at professionals.
Paolo finds the additional costs threatening the designer's input amusing."A few years ago, I was asked to restyle an office chair for a well-known manufacturer. When the model was released, I was criticized as I had designed the chair with sharp edges, which compromised the drape hanging. What happened next? It became the best selling chair in Europe. It was a life-saver for the manufacturer during the crisis beginning in 2000".
All said and done, Paolo is not a fickle designer."If Marc tells me that it is not possible to realize my ideas for technical or budgetary reasons, I have a rethink". In other words, he adapts and does not force his opinions. In Paolo's very own words: "I am more of a chameleon than a dictator". He prefers to communicate with members of the research team and exposes himself as much as possible to Company know-how in order to find suitable solutions to problems.
Some time has passed since the designer's initial involvement with FELCO 800. Marc Wermeille states that"design has established its place within the world of tools. Design now features as one of the steps in the research process, as well as a step to consider at the tool revision stage". And he hammers the message home, "we can even go as far as to say that it is a step that cannot be ignored".