Marko Pavlinec, a co-founder of Rinz Ros d.o.o. company which he established together with his brother, is considered to be one of the most promising Slovenian designers. He believes that any design process should put a user and the production quality first. He accentuates the importance of innovativeness and ergonomics, the latter being many times forgotten and overlooked in today’s modern world. Nevertheless, ergonomics plays an extremely important role when we are trying to achieve optimal levels of functioning. He is well-aware of the significance of various factors that might have a huge impact on both: the design process as well as the product positioning on the market.
Could you please tell us something about the way your design process takes place?
Marko Pavlinec: Designing is a complex process. First, it is important to test the existing product, the next step is to find out what its deficiencies are and to start searching for solutions to improve its quality. After figuring out the added value, a prototype is made, and it is tested in many different ways: we assess forces by using special equipment, and we examine the usability by carrying out researches with the actual users of different ages. By doing this we try to establish a set of improvements – at this point we make a more precise prototype that is being constantly upgraded. When we consider the product to be satisfying enough, we contact a manufacturer and together we select appropriate product materials.
How did it all begin? What triggered your design ideas?
Marko Pavlinec: We started by designing snow-shovels with an ergonomic aluminium handle grips. It all began with a need – our home yard was quite big and therefore there was a lot of snow to remove, but the tool we had was not efficient enough. It required too much bending, the snow shovel was rotating around my wrist…Therefore I decided to make something new so that the work would run more smoothly and easily. After having carried out some research work I made a prototype that the other users liked as well. Initially everything was developing in a very spontaneous way, but afterwards I opted for a more systematic approach and the evolution of a shovel followed as a result.
The product can be seen from many different perspectives – as a product or as something that originates from the nature itself. In this case a shovel can be perceived as a product or as an arm extension – which is per se an ideal tool. An arm is a very complex part of our body and in everyday life many things can be performed by using it. So, the question arises here as to whether our products shall be designed according to the rules of nature, on the basis of our own physique, since this would make our work much easier to perform. When designing the product I analysed the construction of a human body very carefully as well as the way the body behaves when working with the tool.
Efekt 58 Pusher shovel is your best-known product, and you have received numerous awards for it. Could you tell us what is so special about it?
Marko Pavlinec: Every single part of this product has a particular purpose – the curve of the handle grip has been designed in such a way that the positioning of our shoulders is straightforward – thus the optimal distance is provided because a user always stays on a certain level and is not overstrained due to his constant bending. Also, when holding a shovel the wrist angle remains in a natural position. The handle grip is at the end slightly turned downwards, so that we are not obstructed when moving from one position to another. The other specific characteristic of the shovel is its blade which has been designed according to the principle of hydrodynamics. Due to the carefully planned positioning of the reinforcement elements, which at the same time also serve as snow-directing indicators, the snow is distributed and consequently the shovel does not rotate around the wrist. The reinforcements contribute to the shovel’s important features – it is light, but at the same time also strong.
What about your new projects?
Marko Pavlinec: We are planning to start making a new line of tools, and we intend to use wooden handle grips for them. For many years now I have had a wish to create an ergonomic wooden handle grip, but the technology of wood bending has so far been too expensive to make such products. We are creating our own device intended for the production of the previously mentioned wooden grip handles at the moment. During the production veneer layers will be loaded one above the other and connected by means of a glue, and they will be pressed by this device from both sides in order to get a desired shape. There will be very little waste. Laminated wood has good strength, therefore we can expect affordable products of a high quality. I have always hoped we would return back to nature and use natural materials that are pleasant to the touch. We wish to interpret traditional materials in a new way – with a modern, ergonomic design. This type of a handle grip does not yet exist on the market, and I am proud to say that we will be the first in the world to launch such a product.
What is your current market position like?
Marko Pavlinec: As far as the foreign markets are concerned, we did not invest much into marketing strategies there. By cooperating with the supermarket chains, such as Lidl and Hofer, we managed to expand the exports to Ireland, England, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, and by all means we also sell our products in Slovenia. Our products have been sold in various supermarkets without any special promotion and marketing activities. Nevertheless, we are trying to become as independent as possible, because these supermarkets do not guarantee a constant delivery – they might sell the product one year, but next year they may decide to discontinue selling it. Europe is a big market – our winter shovels have become well known in Austria. Hofer has been selling them in Austria for five years now, and they have always been sold out there. They are familiar with the EFFECT as a brand. Austria and Germany are the target countries for our market expansion, because one of the things that people in these countries value most is quality. And besides, they also have strong purchasing power.
Thus we have decided to build our own brand. This year we have started with our marketing activities in the German speaking countries, and the business strategy there is based on campaigns and social networks. We have also created a website with an online shop. So far, we have been selling our products through supermarkets – we would send a product to a shop and afterwards we waited for the outcome. We are fully aware of the fact that we need to create the name and that a lot of effort should be put into marketing activities and development strategies. We are becoming more and more aware of the importance of various marketing strategies, therefore we are planning to attend different expos and to participate at various design competitions…
Do you tend to take into account market impact when designing products?
Marko Pavlinec: Certainly. As a designer you have to pay attention to product marketability – it is not enough to design a product that you like. It is important to take a look at the bigger picture, whether the product will appeal to buyers and who is going to buy it. Nowadays women account for a large majority of consumer purchasing and consequently the trade market has changed tremendously in recent years. Therefore designers had to adapt their designs in accordance with these changing market conditions. Accordingly, we have launched for the year 2019 a new line of garden tools in orange colour. The previous line of products was in black, which is a neutral colour and it appears to be timeless. However, since we depend on the market we had to make a compromise and to bring the collection up to date. Orange is the colour of awakening and it stimulates our senses. It also symbolizes new development.
What is the current situation in your company like and what are your plans for the future?
Marko Pavlinec: We are working on our brand and we are trying to increase our brand awareness. My brother Damijan is in charge of our sales activities and communication with vendors and retailers and he is also the one who gets the users’ feedback. We make plans regarding our future strategies together, but when it comes to design I make decisions myself. The existing product is not perfect and it never will be, therefore it is important that we constantly work on its improvements. The expression ergonomic tool is very subjective – we are different in terms of our body constitution as well as size. For this reason I have been thinking it would be a good idea to start selecting tools the same way we select shoes – on the basis of the handle-grip size. This may be our next step, however, many things have to be considered till then. We will surely remain faithful to designing “simple” things, those that are for many people most essential ones.
Text: Lara Perša
Translation: Lidija Jerman
Photographs: Robi Srebrnič