(adam štěch) The Wenger Swiss army knife ultimately ranks among the most iconic products ever made. Young Swiss designer Thilo Fuente studies it in detail in his latest project and presents six new conceptual models that destroy all clichés related to this prideful example of Swiss industry.
Thilo Fuente ranks among this year’s graduates from the Swiss ECAL. He has also worked for one of the Swiss iconic brands – Swatch – for which he designed a variable sales module system for the Swatch Instant concept store. This time, he chose the Wenger company in an attempt to manipulate shapes, traditional functions, and clichés connected with its iconic army knife. Thus, the classical red Swiss knife served him well for both conceptual and functional work on all the above-mentioned levels.
“The risk with such an icon as the Wenger Swiss army knife is when you attach an mp3 player or a yellow grip to it. Innovation has to be sophisticated and witty, but always on a certain conservative level,” explains the designer, who was inspired by the typical red oval grip, which he introduces in a new context in each model. One model completely omits it because the individual blades are connected only by a red cord. Another model slightly bends it, thus achieving a more ergonomic and safer shape. One of the most radical designs turns the appearance of the blade and grip upside down. The big knife handle is equipped with both a knife and a saw; its use depends on which of the two red grips one decides to fold back. Instead of folding back the individual blades, one must slightly turn the grips under which the individual functions are hidden.
Thus, the Swiss knife has become an exceptional object of designer invention, not only as a conceptual idea, but as a real functional application for the brand.
Adam Štěch is Dolce Vita magazine editor.