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ELMAR AND FREDERIK FL?TOTTO IN A CONVERSATION WITH KONSTANTIN GRCIC
2016/8/31

1.The starting point for the PRO project at Fl?totto was the idea of gettingback into producing school furniture. Following two years in development, auniversal chair collection has been created that can be used in many differentsituations. How did you get to this point?

Elmar Flototto: Followingthe acquisition of the FLoTOTTO trademark rights by Elmar Flototto Holding, andafter several discussions with customers, suppliers and opinion formers, ourconversations since 2008 have kept on coming back to the subject of the legendaryFlototto school chair. As the product rights were owned by third parties whomanaged them but did not develop them further, it was clear to us that weneeded to set an example. We wanted to, once again, start producing theinnovative chair for the educational sector at Fl?totto. We weren’t planningthen at the start of it all that an even larger project would develop out ofthis later.

Frederik Flototto: Something that gave us confidence in what we were doing was a reportpublished by Thomas B?rnthaler in Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin in spring 2010entitled ‘Versetzung gef?hrdet’ (‘in danger of failing’), in which he took acritical view of the interior design of German schools with some extremelynegative findings. He called for a design that would help to solve the problem.We were already in the process of development and this gave us the sense thatwe were on the right track.


2.Did you think of commissioning Konstantin Grcic as the designer for thisproject straightaway?

Elmar Flototto: Weof course grappled with the issue of design right from the start. Who couldcombine all the required functions in one chair? Who would be able to managethe reduction? Who had the feel for such a complex task? My son Frederik and Ithought about it briefly and, for us, there was only one designer that could doall this: Konstantin Grcic. He was the only person we asked and he agreed to doit.

Konstantin Grcic: Ithink the school furniture project is exciting and I was immediately inspiredto start tackling this issue. I had the feeling that, with an open mind and acritical design approach, we could really have an impact here. We saw thatthere was an opportunity with PRO to develop a truly useful and contemporarychair.


3.What was so interesting about the idea of developing school furniture?

Konstantin Grcic: Iwas particularly interested in the typology of this kind of furniture – thereare of course some very nice old school chairs that haven’t lost any of theircharm over the years. When it comes to school furniture, there are manystandards and conditions that need to be met. You have to work in accordancewith strict safeguards, which often leads to furniture being too ‘smart’ andlosing its attraction.


4.What challenges did the company have to overcome during the developmentprocess?

Konstantin Grcic: Westudied scientific findings in the field of school furniture very intensively.Over the past few years, there have been various studies relating to schoolfurniture, but the market hasn’t yet reacted to them, which is why we wanted to– and felt we had to – react to them. The core issue that these early studieswere concerned with was: ‘How can furniture help to improve children’swillingness to learn?’ Today, we know that concentration is promoted by dynamicsitting, i.e. freedom of movement and the ability to move around.


5.What effect did these results have?

Elmar Flototto: Ourreaction to these findings can be seen in the end result: excellent design,superb comfort and the way in which the chair can be used in various roomsituations. PRO can be used anywhere – in schools, in commercial properties andin living spaces.

Konstantin Grcic: Ourseat shell incorporates these latest findings – for example with its circularsitting area that permits movement in all directions. The narrower backrestenables sideways movements. Thanks to its flexibility and S-shaped curve, itgives a little when you lean back but still provides good support. The shape ofthe new shell has something friendly, soft and positive about it. In a schoolcontext, it is a suitable shell for a school chair. But even outside school itdoesn’t remind you of school – we’ve achieved a balance here, and one that hasoccurred very naturally. In comparison to other school chairs, PRO is lighterand more contemporary. In my opinion, the ‘school chair’ has undergone anupdate.


6.Why has Plywood not been used? Fl?totto has had much success with thismaterial.

Konstantin Grcic: Plywoodis an interesting material that is very robust. However, it doesn’t offer muchin the way of creative leeway because you can only shape it in two dimensionsas is typically the case with moulded wood. Right from the start, we tried todevelop and manufacture an affordable and thereby competitive chair – using a materialthat offers all those possibilities. This meant that, at a certain point, theproject gravitated naturally towards using plastic injection moulding, althoughmaking that decision meant that the tool costs would be considerably higher.The Fl?totto family supported this decision, which impressed me and showedme how much they believe in the project. We intensively researchedpossibilities for non-fossil-fuel plastics, but found that the kind of materialwe needed for our specific requirements is developed using high-pressureprocesses and isn’t available as a mass-produced material. Thanks to theintelligent extremely three-dimensional shape, we have managed to construct theseat shell in such a way that we could make it from 100% pure polypropylene –i.e. without fibreglass additives.

Frederik Flototto: Theconcept of sustainable production is very important to us. We want to be seenby our customers as an innovative brand and this, of course, includes anefficient manufacturing process and sustainable interaction with materials andresources. At our production location, we produce all the necessary electricityrequired for manufacture from our own photovoltaic plant.


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