Latest project from designfabrik: Wästbergs lamp Winkel w127
Presentation by graduate designer Eva Hoefli
Engineering Plastics Europe
BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany
Literally in a new light, the designfabrik® at BASF is presenting its self with its latest project: the Winkel w127, a lamp designed by Dirk Winkel and produced by the renowned Swedish designer lamp manufacturer Wästberg. The Winkel w127 is a solid yet elegant table lamp with dimmer and timer. Its warm-white LED light source with reflector and diffuser lenses, in combination with a shade and micro gas springs, provides individually adjustable illumination. It is manufactured using a specialty polyamide BASF. Not only designers but also simulation experts contributed to its creation.
Value inside and outside
During development of the designer lamp, the know-how and consulting competency of the designfabrik played an essential role: the team of engineers and design experts advised the young designer Dirk Winkel and the manufacturer Wästberg in questions of material selection and design principles for plastics, suitable processing techniques, surfaces and colors as well as form and function. With his design, Dirk Winkel is attempting to express the materiality of the material used. The Berlin-based designer does not want to hide the lamp's technology and material. The value that is visible from the outside and can be felt should also be evident in the high-quality solid plastic used for the lamp. That posed a special challenge for the plastics engineers, since producing a product like this lamp in solid material is rather unusual.
Material supports design
For the Winkel w127, Magnus Wästberg searched for a plastic that is based on renewable resources. For such cases BASF offers the plastic grade Ultramid® S Balance from its product line. It possesses not only exceptional engineering properties, but as a polyamide (PA) 6.10 is to a large extent bio-based. Thanks to its – for a polyamide – relatively low moisture uptake, this material exhibits very good dimensional stability and is highly chemical-resistant. BASF presented the engineering plastic for the first time at the plastics fair K 2007 and the glass fiber-reinforced grade in particular is especially strong, stiff and heat resistant. All of these properties support the performance of the Winkel w127.
Durable solid construction: Not without computer simulation
When designing products in plastic, lightweight design is often a priority, e.g. in the automotive industry. Plastic is usually replacing metal in such applications, the intent being to have lighter components and thus lighter vehicles. From the standpoint of the designer, however, weight reduction is not an essential criterion. On the contrary: Dirk Winkel wants to express the solidity of the plastic material. The lamp should present the material as it is. Wästberg also sees the right material in this engineering plastic, since it allows production of large quantities of a solid, visually appealing lamp in a relatively cost-effective manner. The designer and manufacturer placed great value on stability in every aspect when it came to producing the Winkel w127. For this reason, micro gas springs are employed in the joints: With the ability to withstand 50,000 compression cycles without any loss in performance, they are far superior to any normal spring and thus – just like the energy-efficient multichip LED light source and the plastic – have an extremely long service life. To ensure that the lamp satisfied all requirements in terms of performance and aesthetics at the same time, it was designed using Ultrasim®, the universal simulation tool from BASF. For instance, through computer simulation, the engineers knew how to optimize the position of the injection points so as to minimize the warpage of the different lamp components. Moreover, they found an elegant solution for placing the injection points at concealed locations, e.g. inside the joint of the lamp's arms.
Successful in the market and in front of the jury
The design world became aware of the Winkel w127 shortly after its introduction. For its exceptional design and the material concept of Dirk Winkel, the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in cooperation with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies honored the lamp with the "Good Design" award in 2012. In the same year, the lamp was nominated for the "Design S" award, presented every two years by “Svensk Form” – a non-profit organization that is part of the Swedish government. Finally, in 2013 the Winkel w127 was nominated to “Design of the year”, the Design Museum in London’s annual exploration of the most innovative and forward-looking design from around the world. The market success of the product, which was presented for the first time at the Orgatec in 2012 and then officially launched in Milan in 2013, can be seen in the already 10,000 lamps sold. Marketing is focused on offices or other professional areas.
From the designfabrik to Milan via London: Winkel w127
Early in 2009, the designfabrik started the "Plastics" project together with lecturers and students at the Royal College of Art in London to examine the potential of the engineering plastic Ultradur as a material for developing household products. In the course of this project, Dirk Winkel developed the first model of what was to become the Winkel w127. It was at this point in time that he selected Ultradur, which offers high dimensional stability and in addition is especially tough. Together with BASF, Dirk Winkel debuted his lamp at the furniture exhibition in Milan in 2010. This is where the novel lamp and its designer came to the attention of Wästberg. For Magnus Wästberg it was a case of "love at first sight", since he had long sought a way to produce a lamp in plastic by means of injection molding while simultaneously satisfying the customer's desire for a high-quality feel. Today he is sure that in the Winkel w127 he has found an object that fits perfectly into his line of products.
Automobile seat – office chair – solar collector
Since 2006 the designfabrik® has advised product and industrial designers in selection of suitable material and manufacturing methods for developing new products. Most of the material know-how at the designfabrik is concentrated on engineering plastics such as Ultramid® or Ultradur®, polyurethanes such as Elastoskin® or Elastollan®, styrenic foam materials, compounds for powder injection molding, paints, pigments and other finishing materials that cover a wide spectrum of feel, look and function.
The latest project of the designfabrik and BASF’s global seat competence team is the design competition for automobile seats: sit down. move. In March 2013 BASF selected six from over 170 international submittals for their original and well-thought-out ideas. Prototypes based on the concepts of the major winners will be exhibited at the plastics fair K 2013.
In addition, working together with the renowned furniture manufacturers Interstuhl and Brunner, it was possible to develop new swivel desk chairs and open-plan area chairs that could be produced with optimized polymers specialties tailored to these applications. The results of a design task that the chemical company presented to the students at the University of Karlsruhe (Germany), however, were unusual and looked far into the future. They developed new ideas for collecting solar energy (via solarthermics) in cities. As the Winkel w127 shows, the creative potential of young designers is always good for novel ideas all around plastics. By working together with the designfabrik, such ideas can quickly be converted into commercial items.
Wästberg launched its premier collection in 2008 and although this newcomer appears to have come out of nowhere – nothing could be further from the truth. Its founder, Magnus Wästberg, was born into the lighting trade and had through experience gained an understanding for the need to fuse aesthetic sensibility with Swedish engineering mentality. Today Wästberg has a growing catalogue developed in close collaboration with some of the World’s most renowned architects and designers. Including David Chipperfield, Claesson Koivisto Rune, Ilse Crawford, James Irvine, Jonas Lindvall, Jean-Marie Massaud, Nendo, Inga Sempé, Maarten Van Severen and Dirk Winkel. Only with designers like them could Wästberg’s ideas be turned into successful products. The lamps have been honoured with more than 40 awards for design excellence, including eight Good Design Awards, five Reddot, awards, Design Award of the Federal Republic of Germany, Elle Interior Design Prize, the Swedish Design Award, Wallpaper Design Award and Design of the Year. Wästberg is based in Helsingborg, in the southernmost region of Sweden, Skåne.
Dirk Winkel is a Berlin-based product designer who studied at the University of Arts (UdK) Berlin and finished with an MA in Design Products at the Royal College of Art, London in 2010. Since 2012 he is teaching Design Construction at the Industrial Design course of the UdK. He is specialised in lighting and furniture design and worked for different designers and design houses in Berlin and London before setting up his own studio in Berlin in summer 2011. His work has been featured by Frame, icon, I.D. Magazine, idfx, Viewpoint, Gestalten Verlag, Thames&Hudson and many more and was on display at numerous places like Marta Herford Design Museum, Art Basel Miami and St. Etienne Design Biennale and has won several awards and nominations like GOOD DESIGN (Chicago Athenaeum), Swedish Design Award (Svensk Form) and Designs of the Year (London Design Museum).
The designfabrik® is located in the heart of BASF’s sprawling industrial site in Ludwigshafen. It is a consultation center whose doors are open to all customers who, as freelancers or company designers, require assistance in working with BASF materials. This is where engineers and industrial designers provide information about component design, the right processing methods, surfaces and colours, as well as about form and function. “At the designfabrik, we connect designers from all kinds of industries with BASF’s unique product portfolio. We support them in finding the right materials, colours and application methods – helping to create nothing less than a better product in the end”, explains Eva Höfli, who works as a designer at the interface between customers and BASF engineers.