The FSB brand – three business areas, one ambition

FSB is a byword the world over for visually and functionally compelling hardware solutions for doors and windows and is also successfully integrating the future-driven segments of barrier-free sanitary fit-outs and electronic access control into its product portfolio. Architects and builders’ clients greatly favour reaching out for products from Brakel on account of FSB’s consummate design expertise and its profound understanding of the requirements of modern construction. Everything in any way associated with handle culture in built spaces is catered to from a single source.

FSB soon to turn 140 – global brand from the eastern Westphalian sticks writing history

Franz Schneider Brakel GmbH + Co KG can look back over a long, heritage-rich corporate history in the course of which it has amassed extensive specialist expertise. The FSB brand has its earliest origins not in ‘B’ for Brakel but in the town of Iserlohn, where a master fitter by the name of Franz Schneider established a company in 1881 that initially produced antique-style cabinet fittings and plain devotional articles in brass. It moved from the Sauerland to the eastern Westphalian town of Brakel in 1909 so as to be closer to the furniture industry, at which point Mr Schneider simply added a ‘B’ for Brakel to his own initials. The FSB brand was born and, with it, product focus areas that have been nurtured ever since. Besides making conventional fittings for doors and windows, the company has more recently branched out in both the analogue and digital markets with products conducive to greater convenience in the spheres of sanitary fitments and electronic access control.

It was between 1953 and 1963 that the company’s design proficiency evolved most significantly when the designer, steel engraver, chaser and toolmaker Johannes Potente created a pioneering moulded-to-the-hand design that is still as valid as it ever was. His unsung industrial design only received the appreciation it deserved after his death: his designs – including his own favourite model FSB 1058 – have since found entry into leading collections of such items.

Whilst honing its design proficiency, FSB also devoted itself in the 1950s and 1960s – and continues to do so today – to the ongoing further perfection of its manufacturing processes, i.e. by modernising and optimising production technologies and sequences. It already had a passion for “sound”, high-quality materials such as aluminium and brass then – with stainless steel and bronze being added in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, FSB advanced to become a popular architects’ brand and, in cooperation with the noted German designer Otl Aicher, drew up a set of guiding principles that are still applicable today. Shape was lent to a fundamentally new design culture that, besides addressing itself to the company’s origins and tradition, takes its coordinates from the cultural history of the handle in particular and the act of holding in general. FSB looked into issues such as the ergonomics of grip, the significance of handholds as artefacts or the interaction between functionality and design in the most varied of cultural, philosophical, scientific and materials-engineering contexts.

The design scene really began to latch on to FSB following the legendary “Door Handles Workshop” it ran in 1986 at the very latest: luminaries such as Mario Botta, Peter Eisenman, Hans Hollein, Alessandro Mendini and Dieter Rams were invited to Brakel for this extraordinary event with a view to designing new models together. The outcome brought FSB international acclaim almost on the spot. An area that had long been considered of low interest was transformed by one of the first-ever “author-design” projects into a design topic that has since been repeatedly taken up by familiar architects and designers. The door handle, looked upon as mere “peripheral detail” up until then, was discovered as a “functional extension of the human hand” that was of definite relevance in design terms.

The product range now includes 60 door-lever models by big-name designers and architects: amongst them Johannes Potente, David Chipperfield, Heike Falkenberg, Christoph Ingenhoven, Alessandro Mendini, Christoph Mäckler, Jasper Morrison, Ortner & Ortner, gmp, Sauerbruch Hutton and Hans Kollhoff.

From analogue to digital – electronic access control
FSB is equipping itself for the digital future by augmenting the classic fittings in its performance portfolio with solutions for electronic access control. The focus here is on unrestricted scaleability, flexibility of deployment, ergonomic quality, design excellence and outstanding ease of operation. FSB has come up with four different system variants as a means of catering to growing building-management requirements as well as to constantly changing user structures with which mechanical lock suites are hard put to cope. Since the Brakel-based company launched its first system of electronic access identification, it has been steadily further-developing this product segment – from door pulls with Fingerscan (F Series) to the deployment of smartphones (L700 LightAccess Pro System).

Living in comfort with ErgoSystem®
But FSB does not only access architecture via doors. “Living in comfort – at whatever age” is a motto that ErgoSystem®, winner of numerous design prizes, fully lives up to. The heritage company provides an all-embracing range of products with this package that set new yardsticks for safety and barrier freedom in modern sanitary spaces. This top-quality system facilitates bespoke configurations in line with specific operator/builder’s client requirements of everything from handrails and drop-down support rails to seating devices that can be combined with a plethora of different accessories. ErgoSystem handrails boast optimum security of grasp and adhere rigorously to the ergonomics of grip. The diagonal alignment of their oval cross-section affords the hand optimum gripping quality whilst reducing the force it exerts when taking hold of hardware: Diagonal + oval = secure gripping.

ErgoSystem® comes in two versions: the premium E300 system in Stainless Steel is particularly suited to areas of application in which high levels of stress and loading are to be expected. The serviceable A100 system in Aluminium, by contrast, is the perfect solution for standard scenarios. Anyone, whether young or old, will feel safe in a bathroom fitted out with products from the A100 series. Its great variety of finishes makes this budget-conscious option an ideal choice for bathroom renovation jobs in the home or in old-age and nursing homes.

Individual wishes come true: “FSB Handmade”
Resort can be had to a mix of proven materials and workmanship “made in Germany”, hand-crafting and innovative technical know-how to create items that are truly unique. “FSB Handmade” sees the heritage company expand its existing product portfolio to embrace the option of implementing door and window handles as individually required. Products are made manually in processes ranging from hand-casting to highquality series production and acquire a perfected brushed-effect finish with accurate radii to ensure they are formally accomplished. Our inhouse manufacturing facilities at Brakel yield premium-quality products intended for frequent use in Civic/Commercial buildings that likewise constitute a peerless option for select residential properties. They are shipped all round the world from Brakel.

Sustainable? Long since
Dealing responsibly with resources and the environment has enjoyed top priority at FSB since the 1990s. The company was one of the pioneers in this field and can cite environmental declarations for specific materials and ranges in compliance with EN 15804 that apply to its entire stock range. FSB regards sustainability as being synonymous with enduring dependability and has duly upgraded its environment management system to accord with the new EMAS Regulation and ISO 14001. Exhaustive tests conducted on fittings and system solutions, including in day-to-day operation, testify to the Brakel company’s will to deliver on this issue over and over again. FSB became the first company in North Rhine- Westphalia and the second in all Germany to subject itself, way back in late 1995, to the stringent provisions of the EU Eco-Audit. For more than 20 years now, “How green is our business? ” is a question that has been guiding FSB and has seen the company make a substantial contribution to an ecological future.

Franz Schneider
Brakel GmbH + Co KG

Anne Levy
Nieheimer Straße 38
33034 Brakel
Telefon: +49 5272 608-105