With nearly 70 years of experience, GEFU specializes in high-quality kitchen tools. The line of products is characterized by a harmony of functionality, quality and design. GEFU tools make everybody a culinary artist. The head office of this innovative and growing company is located in Eslohe, Germany. GEFU products are sold in 47 countries around the world. Today we are speaking with managing director Rudolf Schillheim.
Mr. Schillheim, where do you find inspiration when designing new products?
I usually get the ideas while I am cooking, which I really passionately enjoy. If an action can be made easier, for example, or a new cooking method improved achieved a better result, I am fired with enthusiasm and I suddenly find myself right in the middle of the creative process. The best example is the development of our SPIRELLI spiral slicer. While cooking with a friend, I suddenly had the wish to be able to produce longer julienne strands in an easier way. Some days later I was sitting in the office, sharpening a pencil, and the idea hit me! Why not pare vegetables and get endless spiral stands? That was the starting shot for the development of our spiral slicer.
Are there any specific designers, places or eras that influence you?
For many years now we have been collaborating on the well-known GEFU design with designers Dennis Becker and Christoph Wiehle from INVIVO industrial design in Berlin. They take our various ideas and develop them into a product design so that the GEFU kitchen tools always have the same material and form language.
How do you choose which idea to take to the next step – to product development?
Thanks to my training as a tool-making craftsman, I know what’s possible and what isn’t. Kitchen tools must be guided by the consumer; they must be functional, of high quality, easy to handle and affordable. The ideas are developed 98% on our premises in Eslohe. Working with our designers, the ideas are sketched, the shapes are chosen, materials are discussed and a first prototype is constructed. If this meets our high standards, a 3D model is designed on the computer, which afterwards serves as the model to be copied in production. Numerous quality inspections are conducted before the product goes into serial production. Only when all tests have been successfully concluded can the kitchen tool be released for serial production and included in GEFU’s extensive range of more than 350 products.
How do you identify the key user audience for your products?
In general, our target group is made up of all people with a passion for cooking. Talking to our customers – whether it is at fairs, in private discussion or at the point of sale – gives us ideas for innovative product development. Our kitchen tools are always guided by our customers’ wishes and nutritional habits. GEFU offers not only well designed but also perfectly thought-through product solutions for the many tricky food-preparation issues in the modern kitchen. Anyone looking for such solutions belongs to our target group.
Is there an approach or look that joins the functionality, form or emotional appeal of your product line?
Kitchen tools are our passion. We therefore constantly pay attention to developing a perfect blend of design, quality and functionality. The most recent example is our FORCE ONE, which is a potato ricer, a juice press and a spaetzle press in one. FORCE ONE is impressive not only because of its great design but also because of its special functionality, top quality and exceptional user friendliness with respect to effort reduction.
How do new technologies influence your product design? Do you use 3-D printing, Kickstarter or other platforms to develop or launch products?
Yes, we use new technologies in development. The use of a 3-D printer makes a product much easier to view and allows us to work on its shape more than is possible when holding just a drawing.
How do you use social media?
We use Youtube for films to demonstrate how our products function. We also use Facebook, of course.
How do you see design’s importance in our industry as it moves forward?
Design is everywhere and its importance as a means of identification will continue to increase for the consumers. Nevertheless, quality still sets the standard in our society and functionality can never be sacrificed for the external form. GEFU therefore goes for a combination of all three components.
Thank you, Mr. Schillheim, for sharing your process and philosophy with us. We look forward to seeing your beautiful latest products in booth N8519. Learn more about GEFU by visiting www.gefu.us.
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