The industrial design sector relies on the essential dimension of its activity to overcome the economic crisis induced by Covid-19. Like the company chaux-de-fonnière Multiple, for whom sustainability rhymes with adaptability.
Swiss flagship in its field, Multiple Global Design prides itself on adapting with its paws, notes Camille Mairot, designer and one of the company’s four co-directors, in an interview with Keystone-ATS. “Knowing how to break the codes to open up new perspectives”, the health crisis prompting customers to question themselves in an uncertain climate.
The approach is that of the giant Apple. But innovation can also be practiced in small touches, like a luxury brand, he says. Even if the tendency is towards linearity and standardization, he notes, while insisting on the need “to dare to think differently”.
This is why you have to be “alive” in the initial phase of “brainstorming”. “Regularly propose the break, if ever, for the next time”, summarizes Camille Mairot. The circular economy, integrating responsible solutions, came to the work table. “Young people are more and more sensitive to the issue.”
Design and engineering
Multiple has more than 250 customers, including prestigious names such as Nestlé (beverage machines), Mettler-Toledo (measuring instruments), BioMérieux (in vitro diagnostics), Siemens and Loterie romande. Nearly 2000 designed products and many others (including prospective) have been placed on the market in 40 years, since the days of the founder Rémy Jacquet, who is now retired.
For two and a half years, the company has worked collegially with a management of four, including Camille Mairot and Sébastien Dassi. The latter represents the engineering component. “This makes it possible to know the whole”, notes Camille Mairot, with several sectors of activity, without barriers.
The approach is based on “knowledge sharing in order to appropriate the specificities of a product”. The user is at the center. You have to be able to deliver a result that meets the customer’s instructions, knowing that the business has evolved towards “ever-increasing” connectivity. Hence the combination of design and engineering.
There are fifteen designers for six engineers at Multiple. The object is placed in an ecosystem, explains Camille Mairot, to make it desirable, functional and appropriate, in terms of price and market. There is no longer just basic use, but enrichment through data and daily experience.
“The request integrates more of a technical aspect”, says Sébastien Dassi. “The engineer brings credibility to the artist side,” mirror to the larks “, of the designer”, adds Camille Mairot. They work closely together to bring out “real solutions” and to develop a prototype proving that the product is feasible.
Prospective design looks at a potential future. “To wonder what it means to make an everyday gesture”, illustrates Camille Mairot, by exploring the relationship to the product, new ways of thinking. The field of possibilities. The idea is to take your head off the handlebars to imagine what consumption will be in 10 or 15 years.
Go beyond the practice of offering something new every 18 months. “It’s a pure creative process,” notes Camille Mairot. Provide a framework by involving design and engineering, using animation images. The prospective dimension has been supplemented for five years by the arrival of a new specialty: UX / UI Design.
The designer-engineer couple collaborate with “benevolence and tolerance”. “We are trying to know how to make it happen and not how to cut the wings”. Each designer draws and models in three dimensions. “The engineer intervenes, sometimes very upstream, for the choice, among other things, to approach the choice of such and such materials”, adds Sébastien Dassi.
It is the mechanics, assembly and disassembly. “The customer comes with components, brings functionality,” he explains. It is a question of finding solutions at all times, of knowing how to meet all the criteria. 3D allows you to get closer to reality and, then, to continue or stop a project.
Prototyping with models has not, however, disappeared. It uses plastic, glass or sheet metal and involves multi-domain partners. The model is identical to what we find on the market, to prove that the product can exist and be able to test it.
The latter is thus often designed from A to Z. Hence the need to know how to adapt to deadlines and complexity, the two co-directors report.