Interview with designer Francesco Frulio (FF), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Fiberflax Stool.

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Interview with Francesco Frulio at Thursday 21st of April 2016: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
FF : My idea was to design a versatile piece of furniture made with a new bio-composite developed by me and based on flax , wool felt and a sustainable resin made of wood pulp and recycled oils. The concept was born from the objective of creating a new eco-friendly composite material that could replace fiberglass in the construction of furniture that could be produced with local, sustainable materials from the Sardinian craft tradition. In fact, nowadays it is important to understand the impact that any design has on our planet in terms of energy consuming and exploitation of resources.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
FF : I wanted to prove that it was possible to create plastic-like shell shaped seat, but with natural and sustainable materials. I wanted to prove that changing is possible. I wanted to show the potential of this new material in terms of applications and shaping possibility.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
FF : I would like to show it through different design exhibition as well as starting a small batch production of the stool itself.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
FF : It took me a couple of years from the initial concept of creating a new composite material, through its development and eventually to project the stool.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
FF : I wanted to follow an intuition and a challenge more than an inspiration. In my homeland, which is Sardinia, a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, there's no really an industrial production, and I wanted to show that it was possible to create innovative things, starting from local material of the the manufacturing tradition.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
FF : At the beginnign I will probably start a small batch production, a limited edition series, but in the future I plan to lease the production rights to other company to produce different designs using this material.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
FF : The need of showing to other and to myslef as well, the potential of the bio-composite that I developed.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
FF : I am a lover of '50s classical design and I look at them all the time as a reference, but there was not any particular designer that inspired me in this design.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
FF : Probably people that, like me, believe that there is an alternative to fiberglass and plastic furniture and that wants to drive the change.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
FF : Probably the fact that is made with local and sustainable materials from Sardinia, and that mixes traditional material with state of the art production technology like the VARTM(Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding) for its making.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
FF : I wanted to give it a name that could immediately be recognizable by the users and that could give an hint of want it was made of. I also wanted to play with the word Fiber Glass, as this material borns as a sustainable alternative to it. So FiberFlax was eventually the name that I decided to give it.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
FF : I used different tools. At the beginning I have made lots of research on books and scientific pubblication, so nothing really thrilling. Once that I completed the research I started doing the first sketches to figure out what I wanted to do. After I had a rough idea of the shape I started realizing paper prototype, which I find the fastest way to proof a concept. After several paper model, I eventually come up with a shape that I like and I started to work on the 3D using Rhinoceros.

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
FF : Probably the fact that, by using only sustainable materials it has the exact mechanical properties of common fiberglass chairs.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
FF : I worked along a professor of mine who is a PhD in Material Science expecially for what concerne the technical aspect of the developing of the material.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
FF : The role of technology in this design is to produce a stronger piece of furniture, using a production technique borrowed from the automotive and aerospace industry.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
FF : I conducted a very long research based on scientific publications and book. I read lots of datas concerning mechnaical properties of different material and they behaviour. And I also made different mechanical testes to collect datas reguarding the behaviour of the stool under stress condition. So yes it was influenced pretty much by numbers and datas.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
FF : The hardest challenge during the development of the stool was to find the right natural materials that could deliver the best mechanical properties. Another big challenge was to adapt a manufacturing technique used in the aerospace industry for the realization of fine composites parts, for the making of piece of furniture using the bio-composite developed by me.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
FF : I wanted to challenge myself and my design, and to see if also an international and qualified jury as the one of the A'Design Award would appreciate it.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
FF : During the development of this work I learned that you have an intuition that you think might be right, if you turly believe in it, you should follow it despite what other tell you. And on the field I have learnt a lot on composite materials and production techiques.

DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
FF : Not really, I think that the previous question can give a clear frame of my design and what lies beneath.