LEDs caused a revolution in lighting, touch control conquered the electronics. The Fonckel combines the two beautifully in the Fonckel One design lamp.
The start-up Fonckel operates in Eindhoven in the shadow of Philips, which in recent years has made sure that LED lamps have become mainstream. But that is more or less coincidental: the company came into being when the Delft buddies Philip Ross (Industrial Design) and Kamiel de Leur (Industral Design Engineering) decided in 2010 to build a company together with Hans Filippini (Nyenrode) around a product that Ross developed for his PhD research at Technical University of Eindhoven (TU/e). A cum laude promotion, by the way.
The arc-shaped table lamp, then called Scoop, was operated with gestures. You can grasp the light beam and guide it to the right place in the lamp. Ross had previously received a so-called Valorisation Grant from the STW technology foundation to conduct a feasibility study. With a second STW subsidy the Scoop was further developed as a product, the foundation was laid for the company that he and De Leur (previously innovation manager at Heineken) and third man Filippini (product manager at a financial service provider): Aesthetic Interactions.
The further development of the concept with the (under the name Lumotion) patented operation into a market-ready product proved no easy task. "Remember that we started with a lamp attached to a wooden block and a laptop, the case didn't even move."
Then it helps if you can operate from Eindhoven, yet the heart of the Dutch manufacturing and electronics industry. This provided short lines of communication to development partners such as ACE Ingenieurs- & Adviesbureau, the agency that helped to develop the 'hardware', Metatronics that wrote the software, DPI that gave the plastic housing a special composition that provides the most pleasant touch and NTS Optel, that the optic - the lenses - delivered.
"We have had a lot of support from all the partners, who were very enthusiastic about the concept. They thought along well with us, also about ways to keep the bill affordable - without having now become a shareholder."
Remarkable: while the city of light Eindhoven owes its name to Philips, the light giant does not appear in the Fonckel story. Ross did his research at the TU/e, at the Intelligent Lighting Institute, where many Philips researchers are naturally walking around. "Philips was aware of what we were doing, but we never sat at the table. Of course we could have gone to a manufacturer with a prototype at a certain point, but we think it would be better to put it on the market ourselves "said Ross.