A reinvention of a mechanical industrial product


‚Design is about building on ideas, trying things out, comparing alternatives, exploring opportunities to finally select the best possible solution.‘

Bettina von Stamm, Professor at the London University

Design and business

SABO produces extremely robust lawnmowers. Workhorses that can not be broken and cost the money they are worth. And that was the challenge: a product that lasts forever and you have to work yourself – synonymous with limited growth opportunities and due to the lack of technical gimmicks not innovative.

SABO’s ambition was not to create semi-professional robot solutions that suggest the garden challenge can be solved by itself with a minimum of work but to develop a strategy that is honest, sustainable, and still future-oriented. The company has partnered with Fuenfwerke to help them find a way to do this.

The 5W approach

Remove the complexity from the uncertain

It is a big step to question yourself as a traditional company and to be open to disruptive solutions to think about the future. A team of designers, developers, UX/UI professionals has teamed up with management, marketing, sales, and finance from SABO and built empathy for the big picture as well as for details. We have accompanied SABO hands-on and structured, analyzing the market, identifying trends, characterizing competitors, exploring new technologies, business models, and stages of value creation in order to develop a deep understanding in all areas.

Create clarity to gain freedom

Develop scenarios

With a clear process and a practical set of tools, we have developed a variety of scenarios together with our project partner not only in theory but in a “tangible” and “visible” manner. The knowledge obtained beforehand could thus be tested directly in prototypical applications and unexpected fields of action discovered that were free from all previous constraints and intellectual restrictions and at the same time could be borne by all company-internal specialist skills.

Develop sustainable and authentic strategies

The result is a strategy that was able to express SABO’s ambition in all conciseness and brevity, defined market and customer potential, clarified sales channels, and, above all, significantly improved the quality of relationships with all stakeholders.

Products, services, and platforms have been developed which – combined with a clear attitude – will make the company and the SABO brand future-oriented and create experiences.

Since the theories were always translated directly into concrete solutions and the process was used to train creative self-confidence, we created the conditions for the company to be active and therefore able to act.

Design and business: Heaven or hell?

We started as an agency over 20 years ago. Motivated and attentive, we sat as exotics at the meeting table of a large pharmaceutical company. We were “the creative ones” – the colorful dogs who were supposed to “make things beautiful” that were decided. The discussions went round in circles, there were many problems that had to be “solved”. Nobody knew how, but nobody admitted that he didn’t know – couldn’t know at all. Few could predict how “the Internet” would develop, except perhaps theorists like Peter Kruse. It was clear to him as a scientist that non-linear systems cannot be predicted (butterfly effect) and that new challenges can be solved based on old data. But it was clear to him that there was definitely something that could be used: empathy!

Yes, and back then, in quiet desperation, we were asked. We didn’t have any solutions either, but suggestions, different ideas, saw “pictures” and stories. Could we guarantee that these ideas could help solve the problems? No! But we were pretty confident.

Not that we were absolutely right back then. We knew intuitively, however, that there is no one future, there are futures and we were firmly convinced that it was not about solving the “one future”, but that it was only important to consistently find one of the possible solutions to go – until you have learned again and then had to adapt further. Too much “could”, “would” and too much uncertainty for the time, and that was why it was quite interesting at the time what “the designers” had for opinions – but you really didn’t listen to them.

Today design is supposed to solve all problems and there is no economically oriented medium that does not praise the power of “design thinking”. This time again, design will not solve problems on its own – but only in co-creation with other experts, professions. With time and space. With a look into the past, into the current situation, and a look at possible futures. With a view and with a lot of empathy for people. And then you will certainly (possibly) – but, we are quite sure – find a solution. We have been able to make this experience over the last 20 years. You just have to start.

Our services

Future Thinking
Trend Scouting
Strategic Design
Business Design
Brand Strategy
Brand Story
Brand Design
Service Design

I am looking forward to your questions.

Please contact Jeremias Schmitt in Berlin with regard to this project.

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