25 years of MMID

The Q-Vision for Alisun

MMID is celebrating its 25th anniversary.  In honor of this anniversary, every month we will ask one of our team members to select a project that to them symbolizes the last 25 years. Marcel Magermans, who together with Ries Meertens founded MMID in 1992, recalls their first client: Alisun, producer of sun beds. “The sunbed business was very ‘over-the-top’ to us, but technically speaking, these beds contain every element an industrial designer that’s just starting out can possibly dream up. In many respects, Alisun provided us with the ideal learning curve and was our launching customer.”

“We hit the jackpot with Alisun,” Marcel says about the early days of MMID, which back then was still a collaboration between two separate solo operations: ‘Ries Meertens industrieel ontwerpen’ and ‘Magermans Produktontwikkeling’. “It was a unique assignment in many ways. Alisun proved to be a very progressive, open-minded client, open to our ideas, for speed and us taking responsibility. But what was perhaps more important, during this first project we discovered that the collaboration between Ries and I, which came about quite randomly, worked exceedingly well.” Marcel continues: “The integral approach was there from day one, without us formalizing that in any way. Functionality, design, and producibility came together in our designs from the get go. The combination of the Rietveld graduate and the engineer from Delft simply worked. Not only between ourselves but also in our relationships with our clients.”

Revolution

The young designers get stuck into their first job: the development of the Q-Vision, a new sunbed for the professional market. What starts out as a four-month interim job, develops into a partnership lasting many years. A sunbed turns out to be a rather complex product. “We had to take so many different aspects into account. Hundreds of separate parts, tricks, aluminum, plastics, wires, screws, ventilation, plates to lie on, and so on, and so on,” Marcel explains. “Next to that, high demands are placed on the areas of ergonomics, comfort, and safety. As industrial designers, we could go all out on this assignment, and Alisun gave us ample opportunity to do so. Innovations we thought were obvious, proved to be revolutionary for the sunbed industry and so our ideas were received with much enthusiasm. I’m not afraid to say that Alisun and MMID gave the sunbed industry some revolutionary innovations.”

Ergonomic plate

One of the technical challenges the duo faces is the transparent plate the user lies on while using the bed. “A flat plate isn’t exactly comfortable for the back and shoulders, so Alisun wanted to have the plate follow the natural curves of the body,” Marcel explains. “But how to you make that happen with a transparent plate that has to let through UV radiation?” They choose to go with a vacuum molded, transparent, acrylic plate, a fairly new technique in the early 1990’s, especially for deep drawn transparent products. To get this done, they call in the help of plastics specialist VDL Wientjes from Roden, in the northeast of the Netherlands. “It was an incredibly complicated procedure because when you shape transparent materials, it’s very easy to damage them,” Marcel explains, “But they managed it. Back then, this technique was new for Wientjes as well. We got it done together.”

Cross over knowledge

“And when a supplier excels at their job, we will remember them!” says Marcel. “We used the same principle about 20 years later, but in a completely different product; the transparent side walls of the BabyLeo TN500, Dräger’s newest incubator. In earlier versions, the hood had been made with the injection molding technique, but this proved unstable, complex and expensive. “Our experience with VDL Wientjes had been very positive, and together we were able to convince Dräger that vacuum molding was possible. Now that’s Achieving Value Together! That’s how we prefer our collaborations to be; top specialists in their respective fields, bringing out the best in each other.”