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“For me, it was very important that the alarm clock be produced in Europe” - “AC 01” of Punkt. All photos © Punkt
Petter’s perfect landing
by Uta Abendroth
12/18/2013

“My designs are not about making something pretty, but about infusing things with meaning,” says Petter Neby, who founded his company Punkt in the Swiss town of Lugano in 2008. The Norwegian entrepreneur loves rolling up his sleeves, added to which he has a penchant for good design and a creative head. He teamed up with Jasper Morrison to make sure his fantasies turn into real products – the British designer is like a catalyst for Neby: “Jasper is not Punkt, so it’s not about him, it’s about my ideas,” the 42-year-old explains. “That said, Jasper is very important because right now he is someone who can articulate what’s in my head.”

Both of them, Neby and Morrison, are convinced that the field of “consumer electronics” has long since been ripe for better-designed products. Particularly those that only have a few functions. Braun pops up like a promise from the past – but is there anyone out there doing similar stuff these days? Jasper Morrison says: “Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s motto ‘less is more’ and Dieter Rams’ ‘less is better’ capture what ought to underlie every design process. And this applies precisely to entertainment and home electronics.” One way Punkt goes about this is by opting for a very limited range of colors, with only black, red and white adorning the products. With one exception: The “AC 01” alarm clock is also available in silver. Jasper Morrison explains: “The strategy of using just a handful of colors has a very beneficial effect, namely that Punkt products have a strong identity and are easy to remember. Plus it reflects the concept of simplicity that we wish to communicate.”

But let’s go back to the beginning: When in 2007 Petter Neby could not find an alarm clock to his liking he turned to Jasper Morrison for help. The two had met some years previously at the Salone in Milan, and together they developed the prototypes for the “AC 01” and began looking into joining forces with a German manufacturer. Sadly, the project did not see the light of day. “For me, it was very important that the alarm clock be produced in Europe,” Neby remembers. “However, the necessary structures were no longer in place, and so we finally contacted Seiko in Japan.” The clock’s premiere was delayed as a result. The second product to which the two men put their minds made its debut on time: In January 2011 Punkt showcased the “DP 01” telephone at “Maison et Objet” in Paris. From his own experience Petter Neby knew that mobile phone coverage in rural Italy tends to leave much to be desired. For his home in Florence he therefore wanted a nice stable tabletop landline phone that did not have too many functions. And that could be wall-mounted as an option. The telephone took some 16 months to develop. Like its predecessor the alarm clock (and much to Neby’s disappointment), it too is made in Asia, in China to be precise. There are simply not enough manufacturing facilities in Europe.

It was not until the third product, “ES 01”, a multiple extension socket by Georges Moanack, a young design talent from Colombia, that Europe became feasible as a manufacturing base. A factory located north of Venice produces the accessories for second-generation devices. Situated beneath a removable plastic hood there are five sockets which, depending on the country, can accommodate a variety of plugs and chargers. The power supply is enabled or disabled at the push of a button. The product launched in 2013 is the first not to have been designed by Jasper Morrison. And yet, as art director he will always give things the finishing touches, and dream up the perfect packaging. Incidentally, he is always on the lookout for designers interested in creating products for Punkt. After all, growth is a fixed item on Petter Neby’s agenda, albeit in a suitable timeframe and not at any price: “The items we design are destined to last, because buying new things all the time is not a solution,” states Petter Neby. “Plastic is an excellent material, but only if you handle it wisely and use products made of plastic over a very long period of time. Only then can we even begin to talk about sustainability, the # 1 topic in today’s throwaway society.”

The founder of Punkt is convinced that some things take time to develop and should therefore never be pushed. “Quality is very important to me,” Petter Neby says emphatically. “And even if I don’t sound much of a business man here, I prefer to give a new product a little bit more time and sell it in small quantities only. The objects have to be excellent, that’s imperative.” At the moment the Punkt team is busy working on three new products, of which only one will be showcased in Milan in 2014. “We could probably do any number of things. That said, we only embark on something new if it makes sense and we can do it well,” Neby remarks. Functionality, simplicity and quality are the key values. The extreme reduction in the form does not fly in the face of creativity, however. “Quite on the contrary,” says Jasper Morrison. “No matter what the project is about, it’s always a good idea to strive for the simplest form possible. Of course I always have myself as the consumer in the back of my mind, but that’s not to say there are no likeminded punters out there!”

www.punktgroup.com

Special edition of “AC 01” in silver.
”It’s about my ideas” – Petter Neby, founder and CEO of Punkt.
To illuminate the entire dial, just gently squeeze the clock to activate the light ring.
For Neby’s house in Florence: telephone “DP 01”.
…that also sticks on the wall.
Art director of Punkt: Jasper Morrison.
Georges Moanack has designed the multiple socket “ES 01“.
UK-version of the “ES 01“.
Versus the cable spaghetti: “ES 01“.

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