|Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Alex Lototzky (AL) for A' Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Alex Lototzky by clicking here. Access more information about the award winning design Barramundi BBQ here.
|Interview with Alex Lototzky at Wednesday 18th of April 2012
FS: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
AL: I love to barbecue and I seem to share this passion with many around the world. My fascination lead me to contemplate the essence of grilling and what cultural role and origin it has in our society. This lead me to consider the evolution of the tools that are used in BBQing. The market is packed with a seemingly endless array of possibilities to ‘cook outside’, the apparent common thread running through them all. Gas, electric, charcoal, even solar just to consider heat sources as criteria. There are just as many form factor variations as well: kettles, lidded gas grills smokers, tabletops,..... A truly staggering array. The more I considered it all, the more I came to the belief that this explosion of barbecuing hardware has dragged the essential idea of grilling away from the origins: Man with his meat and a fire. The modern barbecue party can bee seen as a re-enactment of the male bonding, post hunt euphoric ritual of cooking ones catch over an open wood fire. Today it may be accompanied by alcoholic beverages, and the brutal hunt preceding it is now outsourced to the local butcher, but otherwise all the hallmarks of the primeval re-enactment are there. This lead me to ask why have we gone into such a technologically loaded direction with this essentially primitive and simple activity? We do crave the new and fashionable gadgets with the latest ‘bells and whistles’ in whatever we pursue as modern man, but have we been lead astray by marketing hyperbole? I guess there would be nothing wrong with this if there was true benefit and advantage. But a nagging fact remained: there is a real and obvious compromise being made. There is no real arguments that anything but a pure wood fire simply cannot give you that truly sought after smoky flavour that we hold so synonymous with the idea of ‘barbecue’. Charcoal grillers would argue this statement but would grudgingly need to concede that they do not achieve that smoky flavour to any real degree when compared a skillful cook and a real wood fire. It is here that I began to distill what is most probably the true cause of our evolution to the huge, feature packed outdoor kitchens we call modern barbecues. Simplicity! The design of the Barramundi BBQ ran with the mandate to simplify grilling over open wood fires. The focal points in the design were: Performance - The product simply had to do a great all round job of cooking over wood fires. Simplicity - The product had to be brutally fast and easy to assemble, use and disassemble. To achieve this I worked solely with metal slotting and gravity to bring all 7 pieces together to complete the overall structure. Size - It had to be as small, and portable as possible while being as flexible as possible in relation to the fire container. Though I could not help to have a preference toward the wide variety of modern firebowls as the base container. Lastly, and I mention this since I think it is quite a vital issue. A major goal was to solve the perennial problem that virtually all barbecues suffer from: the short time window before your perfectly cooked barbecue becomes too cold to enjoy.
FS: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
AL: I want to promote a return to the original idea of the barbecue. Cooking with raw wood fires is in my view is the pure, and unfortunately, largely lost essence of the humble BBQ.
FS: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
AL: From conception to final 0 series took about 6 months. Fully the first 3 months was only paper and pencil sketching. Only in the final 3 months were there many CAD and Google sketchup files produced. The first physical prototype was already very close to the 0 series version. The only issues that remained were the tiny adjustments to accommodate for metal thickness tolerances and the CNC laser cutting production equipment specifications. Now that the product is in production, and that I regularly use the product myself, I find that I am making small design extensions and improvements every 4-6 months so. I see this continuing at least for the next 12-24 months. For example there have been 2 accessories released for this product in the last 6 months.
FS: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
AL: The Barramundi BBQ was self inspired and is currently only produced by Yagoona for the Swiss market.
FS: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
AL: The base concepts of this design (as with almost all Yagoona designs) is to constrain the design parameters in such a manner to enable a very mobile supply chain. I wanted to develop in the opposite direction to centralised production. Investing a lot of time and energy into few specific production partners, and then exporting the product to new markets. Instead I want my production to be as simple and mobile as possible. This makes the transportation and logistic overheads as lean as possible. Production is very resilient, competitive and capacity is extremely expandable. To expand to new markets, I plan to find partners to produce in other countries under licence. Partners inherit the same lean transportation, storage and production logistics that I myself enjoy. Their production capacity can be easily fine tuned to the market demand. And they can claim truly local production - a marketing message growing in potency. Much of this advantage is borne from the use of CNC laser cut steel.
FS: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
AL: No, the entire process was a solo effort.
FS: Who is the target customer for his design?
AL: BBQ enthusiasts who appreciate the true value of using wood fire to power their barbecues. People who value locally produced, high quality, refined designs.
FS: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
AL: As far as I can tell, there is no other grill that is even similar to the Barramundi BBQ
FS: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
AL: Almost all of my product names and also the name of my company are all Australian Aboriginal names. Being a native Australian, I have always held a high respect for the frugal pragmatic culture of the Australian Aborigines. Barramundi is the name of a large freshwater fish found in Northern Australia.
FS: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
AL: Pencils, paper, CAD, Google Sketchup.
FS: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
AL: The high number of features that the product can boast of compared to its simplicity, ease of use, compactness, longevity and durability.
FS: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
AL: Nobody else
FS: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
AL: Exploitation of CNC laser cutting technology features strongly in this and most of the Yagoona products. This deconstructs to a large extent the advantage of production in countries with cheap labour. This also enables a nimble production process that is easily outsourced locally. In my local warehouse, I can store up to 100 units ready for packing and shipping within a footprint of 1 square meter. I rarely need to store so many units because from order lead times are very short once the production partner has established all the necessary digital files for the CNC cutting machinery. My order quantities are determined instead on the optimal number of units that can be cut from 1 standard sheet of steel.
FS: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
AL: The only research I did was contemplative and some basic understanding of the commercial constraints in my local market.
FS: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
AL: A deeper understanding of the possibilities and limitations of sheet metal together with CNC laser cutting.
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