Behind the Scene
Meet the Designers
Frédéric Gooris, Belgian industrial designer, born in Leuven in 1974, graduated from the Hogeschool Antwerpen in 1998. In 1999 he moves to Milan, where he obtains his Master in Design at Domus Academy. After gaining experience working for Philippe Starck and Stefano Giovannoni for 5 years, he founds Studio Gooris in Milan doing product and concept design for companies all over the globe, including Alessi, Ferrero, Target, Levis, JCPenny, Foreverlamp, 101 Studio Limited (Sun Hing Vision Group), EQ, among others. In 2009 he cofounds Bombol, a company for design oriented baby furniture. In 2010 he moves to Hong Kong in search of new creative adventures. www.studiogooris.com
Sebastiano Tosi was born in Geneva (Switzerland) in 1980. After graduating in Industrial Design at Milan’s Politecnico, he started his professional career in Marc Sadler’s Design Studio where he works on a very diverse range of projects - from design to architecture – for companies like Ideal Standard, Ernesto Meda, Caimi Brevetti, L’Invisibile, Aerodinamica, Crassevig and Il Gufo. In this period, he acquires a lot of knowledge about composite materials and fibers. In 2008 he joined Studio Gooris, beginning a strict work and creative relationship.
Interview with Frederic Gooris
How was Bombol born?
The name « bombol » was inspired by the word « bumble bee », the plump round bee with small wings that buzzes around in a clumsy way, a bit like babies do when they are learning to walk. This image is why we chose a coloured bumble bee our mascot.
"in short, something that people might think that was money well-spent!"
You are an «industrial» designer working for brands like Alessi and Minotti Cucine. What inspired you to create the bouncer Bamboo?
It came when we were expecting our first daughter, and we found out that a big part of the market offers very mechanical products with a thick layer of bright colourful “make-up”. Whatever was design-oriented often came with compromises on functionality. We saw an opportunity to create something that is very functional and does not invade the house – in short, something that people might think that was money well-spent!
Did your kids test Bamboo? Did they help you to improve it?
Absolutely yes, and over a period of 2 years, I saw it being abused in ways I did not imagine before. The product that is on the market today is largely a product of the many changes we did to the samples. Initial reactions from enthusiastic – sometimes also disappointed – parents around the world allowed us to continue to improve Bamboo and make it what it is today.
Are there other projects for Bombol in the pipeline?
As a designer, having the ideas is the easy bit. But when you start up a company, there is so much more you need to think of: production, distribution, and so on… That took a lot of effort and there were more hurdles to overcome than we anticipated. But now we are ready and we are actually developing a new product as we speak.
Your recent creations for Alessi like the «vide-poche» Pirouette, the lamp UFO for AlessiLux have a «childish» theme to them. Is it a coincidence?
Maybe yes maybe no... Design must be communicative. Some designs are minimal, some are figurative, but they all have a story to tell. You see, children are attracted to things on a purely emotive basis; in pretty much the same way, our designs "strike the right chord" within people. When I design, it is like telling a story, you need to use shapes and colours that mean something to people, for example that recall things that we all have in our collective memory. This is also true of the Bamboo bouncer. Even though it is minimal, it is based on the classic bouncer that we all know. A simple example, ask 10 people to draw a car, and you will find 9 of those that are almost identical. Those references are part of who we are and how we perceive the world around us, and that is a theme in design I really love to play around with. You will see in all my designs that they are not free-style exploration of shapes. Be it minimal or figurative, they all have a story to tell you.
"Being at the heart of the consumption-driven society, we can have a considerable influence over how people consume."
What does it mean to you, being a designer these days?
The answer is actually largely linked to the question below. It is not about just about applying make-up to boost sales... Being at the heart of the consumption-driven society, we can have a considerable influence over how people consume. I try to use design in order to seduce people into being sustainable and/or into using long-lasting products. The light bulbs for Alessi were a dream project as the technology gave us freedom of expression for an object that has not changed in 100 years, while the LED bulbs last up to 25/30 years! Baby products often cost a lot, consume many resources to create and have a very limited lifespan because the little ones grow so fast :). Therefore giving sense and extending the life-cycle of a bouncer has been a nice challenge.
A more philosophical question... does it help your creativity staying a bit «child-like»? Did the arrival of your kids have an influence on your work?
Aging is inevitable, but growing up is optional! Yes, it does help to have your mind detached from rules and question absolute truths. Sometimes you have to go on your gut feeling and try to understand why, because then you do consciously what many do unconsciously. Often I forget what the world around me is about and try to imagine how my ideal world might look, and try to look there for what is not out here…
The arrival of my kids certainly has influenced my work. The birth of a child creates probably one of the strongest emotions one can perceive in life. For me it was the moment I truly realised that we are not going to be here forever. It might sound silly, but becoming conscious about the fact that we are not the last of our kind, that we are not the last of the human being (as we all so easily think!) gives us a sense of responsibility about what we do today and its consequences for the world our children will inherit… becoming conscious that we are part of an evolution that has been going on for millennia, that we are just a small step in this endless mutation of human kind made me wonder how we can contribute in a sensible way to this great story, where every birth is a milestone!
Development of Bombol
1. First concept sketches were put on paper after we decided to create the baby bouncer.
2. Four different concepts were translated into CAD files to allow a more detailed aesthetic and ergonomic study. This is one of those 3D studies.
3. First 3D sketch of Bamboo for first submission to the safety laboratory. Based on the feedback the 3D files were adjusted and started to translate that into samples.
4. Working out the exact position of the bending points of the frame.
5. Finally the confirmation that it is possible to create a complete structural frame from a single extrusion!
6. We created many samples with different types of aluminium to find the right balance between elasticity and rigidity.
7. After a first screening in the factory, the final samples were tested thoroughly in the laboratory. Bamboo was systematically fine-tuned based on the findings of the various tests.
8. Because of the flexible nature of the frame, small variations occured from one component to the next. During assembling these variations were summed together. This caused the frame to “twist”, resting only on three instead of four points. The key to cancel the effect of these small variations was the shape of the jig-saw joint. By trial and error we found the right shape. This is one of the first shapes that eliminated the “twist” effect.
9. A pre-production frame with the desired mechanical performance. The first half of the development has successfully been completed.
10. Step by step improving the fitting on the sample in the laboratory in Italy.
11. Sketches of improvements to be made on the sample based on the feedback of the safety laboratory.
12. Testing and improving the stitching to make sure the elastic fabric does not break when stretched to the limit.
13. First sample that passed the safety tests. This sample was submitted for thorough abuse testing by the designer’s and partner’s children for several months.
14. While the “home testing” continued, we worked on the NBK, which is also EN12790:2009 certified. Here the maximum angle of the DBR (sleeping position) is being verified with a 6kg ballast.
15. A few images from the colour study.
16. A number of samples with different fabrics and colours were created to understand what the final look and feel would be.
17. A pre-production sample with final fabrics was submitted to for chemical and mechanical testing to get all the necessary certifications.
18. And after all the sweat and tears: the final product Bamboo!