Franz Schneider Brakel

A gripping story that’s none too short.

Getting a grip on architecture:
It’s in your hands.

FSB has grown from a manufacturer focused on designing handles that are comfortable to the hand into a company that has taken our “hand culture” and extended the concept of linking architecture to people in all our products. Today we combine our handles (levers and knobs) with high quality locksets for swinging and sliding doors, door pulls for glass, wood and metal doors, hinges, bathroom accessories, and a host of supporting hardware in matching styles and finishes.

A capacity for technological innovation, for reflecting critically upon what we do, and also for delivering at the cultural level is part and parcel of the way we see ourselves. Taking our products made in Germany and integrating with high quality electrified and mechanical locking devices for the North American market is a natural extension of our European heritage. Thus it comes as no surprise that our design solutions set the standard for noted architects here and the world over when the emphasis is on style.

Design for doors, windows - and museums

Architecture brands began to emerge during West Germany’s “economic miracle” of the 1950s. Design and architecture, which had gone into retreat with the closure of the Bauhaus and the turmoil of war, were now substantively revived. Great names such as Ray and Charles Eames provided inspiration with their functional furniture designs.

The Dane Arne Jacobsen designed classics like the stackable “Series 7” chair and buildings in the spirit of the Bauhaus. Dieter Rams started pulling the (design) strings at Braun and authored products whose styling has now become the blueprint for products by a Californian company with an apple in its logo.

The debate about “good form” was joined by FSB too, decisively so in the decade between 1953 and 1963. Johannes Potente created his seminal molded-to-the-hand style that is still applicable today. Inspired by Potente, Otl Aicher created his “Four-Point Guide to Good Grip” which is still applicable today. Specialists and the general public caught on to Johannes Potente’s unsung industrial design in a big way after his death, when his work joined important collections of models such as the permanent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

While steadily growing our design excellence, we have never ceased refining our manufacturing processes. An ongoing policy of modernizing and optimizing production has joined with our predilection for using materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and bronze to insure our products offer lasting beauty and pleasure.

Publishers with a sideline in door handles

We again took our future into our own hands in the 1980’s. Under the intellectual guidance of designer Otl Aicher, we subjected our activities to critical analysis and in the process came up with a series of guiding principles that are still valid today. A fundamentally new design culture was born that, as well as addressing itself to the company’s origins and tradition, is also rooted in the cultural history of handles in particular and the concept of holding things in general.


Mr. Aicher devised his “Four-Point Guide to Good Grip, for us, which states that any good handle will feature a thumb rest, a forefinger furrow, support for the palm, and sufficient gripping bulk. As an outcrop of the process of critical analysis and re-orientation was the edition of books that now are part of the standard repertoire of some college design programs.

Names wanted (but not for dropping)

Our legendary Door Handles Workshop held in 1986 at our facility in Brakel, Germany was attended by celebrities such as Mario Botta, Peter Eisenman, Hans Hollein, Alessandro Mendini, and Dieter Rams sent out quite a shock wave.

Even those who had previously managed to grasp the world without FSB were soon cognizant with the workshop findings. Overnight, a product that had long been considered of little interest was turned into a design theme by one of the first “name design” projects. Noted architects and designers now started to apply lock designs to support their creative visions.

It all started with cabinet fittings

FSB was originally located not in B for Brakel but in Iserlohn. This is where Franz Schneider set up shop in 1881 as a makers of antique-style cabinet fittings and sober devotional items in brass. Both were exceedingly modern at the time - and our founder was good at catering to prevailing trends: by the turn of the century his product offering already filled a handy catalogue. 1909 saw the company’s domicile move from a provincial town in the Sauerland to one in eastern Westphalia. Frank Schneider promptly added B for Brakel to his initials and the proud FSB brand was born. Then as now, a key focus of its trade concerned classic hardware for doors and windows.

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