Reaching design excellence, using premium materials was one of the key ingredients in the TiX Recipe. Learn more about how lead designer Fabien Deboves managed to reach that goal and grab an A’Design Award for his TiX Design.
What is your general approach of a design project?
When a new concept is being introduced to me, I like feeling that the final product is an obvious solution to an obvious problem or a gap in the market. Then I’m trying to stick to that same feeling all along the design process.
The AllRoad project was a typical example of this. Still, I’m not the “function=shape” type of designer. For me, the right equation is more about “innovation=emotion”, which does not prevent me from constantly seeking simplicity and easy comprehension of how a product should work. Of course, emotion is intangible and very subjective. In order to work, it involves our sensitivity and culture. But the type of emotion I’m after is not reserved to some kind of elite. Everyone should be in a position to feel it.
I usually make total abstraction of industrial processes during the creative phase unless they are a direct source of inspiration. Others would take these constraints into account straight away, which might be reassuring for customers, but for me it undoubtedly curbs my creativity. Industrial problems can always find solutions and honestly, industrialization processes are rarely part of users’ concerns. At the end of the day, I’m “talking to” the final customer.
And specifically for AllRoad TiX?
Well, every project is specific but, in the end, my approach is quite often consistent between projects. I try to find the solutions inside myself and in my environment. It’s a constant work consisting of questioning myself and being permeable to what I feel, see or hear.
However, the TiX project was specific because I had to create and design around another product. And the iPhone is far from being ANY product. Taking into account Marc’s vision (Marc Mota, President, AllRoad), I did not want to misrepresent Apple’s design but rather create an extension of it, while including ingredients which are very specific to AllRoad’s DNA, like the outdoor lifestyle.
Was your design process influenced by the very specific materials we picked?
Absolutely. The technical and noble aspects of materials used in TiX have definitely influenced my design. Because Titanium is a very pure metal, it allows a very minimalist approach, which is quite enjoyable to work with as a designer. The minimal approach would have not worked with plastic which require more artifacts, more details to create a quality feeling for the product. As far as DuPont™ Kevlar® is concerned for the back cover, because it’s a very technical material, I did not want for it to be altered. No need to compensate with aesthetic escalation to make it look authentic either.
What was your biggest challenge in the project?
One of the biggest challenge was to end up with a design which would bring excellent results in terms of protection, without altering the perfection of the iPhone design. Another one was the need for a whole ecosystem around the product. It means you need to consider each item as part of a whole and take all the others into account. Still each product has its own shape and material existence. So there is a constant back and forth process between each design, requiring adjustments. In the end, all projects part of the ecosystem need to be led in parallel.
Did the A’Design award came as a surprise?
Honestly? Yes! I am proud of the design and I knew it would work well, but it has been a real honor to receive such a prestigious award for this project. I’m also glad it has been recognized in the “Fashion” category meaning it’s just right for its time. At this stage, I’m looking forward to continuing working on the next versions and on the other AllRoad accessories coming up.
“Design is a creation process trying to make
rationality and emotion converge”
Graduated from Strate College in 2000, Fabien worked for several years in agencies and companies. He then decided to work as a freelance to have time to perfect his product design skills. Focusing on the smallest details and always looking for the perfect balance between anesthetics, usage, functions, and industrial processes, he helps large companies as well as start-up bring desirability to their products. He is best known in the industry for his work on Devialet Phantom.