Doll’s house 1:FEM
Above is a word game. It’s from Studio FEM (in English, Studio FIVE), who more or less redecorated their studio into a large doll’s house on a 1:5 scale. The word game may be fun, but scaling is serious business and is integral to their design process and enables Studio FEM to create honest designs.
Indeed, scaling, mock-ups and high quality prototypes are a huge part of Studio FEM’s design process and creating these featured prominently when they were asked to name which were the five most important elements that constituted the basic fundamentals of their working process. Maybe, it has even become something of a sport for Studio FEM to create scale models for each of their products – but they also realize that their customers are delighted when talking about a project in a very concrete way that they are also able to view a model:
”This is where we test our ideas, doodles and scribblings. Sometimes it all makes sense in the first take and other times it’s obvious that we have to go back and find other solutions. This could be about the materials or about the construction or aesthetics – or even the function”, they say.
‘They’ are Sarah Cramer and Anders Engholm, and ‘they’ founded Studio FEM in October 2013 in order to create honest design, focusing on what they are good at:
”We are designers and we do not want to lose focus by spending too much time on other parts of the creative process that take us away from the design process. Of course, it is very tempting when customers compliment your designs and really want to buy instantly, and you want to begin manufacturing on our own. However, we also believe and respect the power of knowing your limits – so we focus on designing, solving challenges and being creative”.
The research phase is also an important basic fundamental part of their working process: ”For us, there is no proper solution to an assignment or project without first ensuring a thorough foundation. The research phase is a fundamental part of the project and ensures we avoid hitting unanticipated and unsolved issues at the end of our design process. Also, when the research is done properly, it makes it easier to create a sharp and tight brief to create from”, explains Sarah.
Part of this research phase sees Studio FEM focusing on another important fundamental aspect that is important to their working process: The End User: Who is he or she? Where does he or she hang out? How do they position themselves? From which culture does he or she come? All these things are important in order to create a relevant final product.
”In the spring, we were asked to design a stand for a software company. Their request was to get as far away from roll-ups as possible. Our wish was to simplify the complex digital product, which was impossible to explain in one sentence. We ended up visualizing the use of the software as a three-dimensional system, making a solution that allowed the clients and sales staff to interact together in better understanding the products functions, and through this our design as well as the product itself became relevant”, says Sarah.
But when does Studio FEM know that the final design is a success?
”It’s not that we need people to fall in love at first sight with our designs, but we need to create curiosity and attention with what we do in order to feel successful. Also, we tend to prefer our designs to ‘grow on people’, because it reveals that the design is relevant but with a certain sense of timelessness”, explains Anders.
The fact that a design grows on you has a kind of commercial tone. This does not frighten the two. Actually, it’s another part of their five basic fundamentals: “As much as we want to make attention-demanding design, we also want to be able to make a living from design. So we work consciously to find a balance between art and commercially attractive designs for a wider audience. But without making the design indifferent”.
In order to ensure a design with character, edge and differentiation Sarah and Anders believe in the importance of interaction between the two of them during the creation process, and this represents their fifth fundamental: ”As people and as designers we are quite different from one another. We use this as a strength in our creative process, because it gives us the opportunity to change perspective and to further challenge the direction of a design. In the end this ensures a better result”.
At the end of this year, it will be of great importance to Anders and Sarah to develop their best ideas into new designs as Studio FEM is showcasing their work at The Stockholm Furniture Fair in February 2017. ”We are working with a theme: ‘Extreme’, so we expect to challenge ourselves. We are eager to show what we are able to do in order to make new, hopefully international, alliances. The goal for 2017 is to go all-in on getting our designs into production”.