Checked out our video review of the Cuts+More? Good. Now we have a chat with industrial designer Colin Roberts from Fiskars Americas on the design, research, and manufacturing of this schizophrenic little pair o' snips.
Core77: The Cuts+More is a diverse pair of scissors. What was the assignment you received, what in particular were you asked to design? Was the product envisioned with all of this functionality from the very start?
Colin Roberts: The original concept - drawn up by our product manager who studied engineering and is no doubt a bona fide scissors geek - called for a multifunctional utility scissors. The innovative functionality came later.
The heritage and legacy of being the World's #1 Scissors Brand is really important to us. We wanted to build off our expertise to create a more versatile cutting tool to help make everyday tasks in the home easier.
Can you tell us about the design process, from start to finish? And were there any problems or surprises that cropped up during the design process?
It was a very "fuzzy front end" type project, but I think from the beginning we knew we had a product opportunity whose time had come. Our goal was to focus on the end user and design in added utility that solves for the consumer's everyday needs. Yes, it's a scissors with a lot of features, but anyone can make that - the question is why? What kinds of added functionality will meet the tasks? We focused on the solution, knowing the features and design would follow.
Our research process was both qualitative and quantitative...
...Before the project kicked off our marketers surveyed nearly 1,000 people to help identify the most common functions, uses and storage places for tools in the home. Our major consumer insight was that the general purpose scissors is the most used tool, followed closely by the general purpose knife.
I combined these elements into one by using a take-apart joint to allow the scissors to transform into a knife. I made a preliminary photo-chop style visualization with one orange-handled, stainless steel blade that references our iconic heritage, and the all black handle and blade which instantly communicates its unique function.
During the design process we also tackled a larger, qualitative ethnographic study focusing on crafting and work in the home in which we talked to people all over the country about their passions and gained a better understanding of their scissors use. Two of my most memorable insights were talking with a woman who cut her hand while using her open scissors to slice up a box. Another woman claimed to use her take-apart kitchen shears for everything she could imagine, including prying off crown molding during a recent DIY renovation.
The team utilized these kinds of consumer insights and its design ingenuity to draw up every possible configuration we could dream up. We probably had over a hundred options from which to choose, and finally decided on the features that would make the most useful multipurpose tool for everyday use. I worked on the fine details with an emphasis on designing a tool that's functional, while incorporating these features into the most clean, iconic form possible. We wanted to let the all black take-apart blade convey the product's strength with more subtle cues coming from the shape.
The biggest challenge was determining where the product should live and the ramifications that has on its aesthetic. If it lives in the kitchen should it be a kitchen- specific shears? If it's aimed more towards men should it be a shop tool? In the end we decided on the most general purpose, universally owned and used form of scissors - a staple of American life - and we tried to make it better and smarter. Fiskars Cuts+More builds thoughtful innovation into a high-quality cutting tool to help make those everyday household tasks easier.
Was there anything you tried to achieve in the original design that had to be discarded? If so, why?
If we had more time I can think of three or four things we would have liked to achieve, but I feel that way about all of my projects.
One element I wish we could have communicated better is the take-apart feature. We used a handle design much like our take-apart kitchen and garden shears. The orange color and shape is an iconic representation of our brand, but they didn't visually convey as much of the "solution for cutting" or "ultra-versatile take-apart knife" stories in the design as I would have liked. However, the product video on Fiskars.com does a good job of conveying these features.
Can you talk about the manufacturing process, and if you encountered any challenges during it?
Challenges? Oh yeah, lots of them.
The biggest technical challenge was combining the scissors and knife functionality through a take-apart joint. Scissors blades are almost always cambered - bent toward each other in a controlled manner - so they can cut, but you don't necessarily want camber in a knife. The bottle opener and cutting notches also presented some challenges during the cambering process, but in the end it was worth the extra effort.
Who is this tool designed for?
Fiskars Cuts+More reinvents household scissors and is designed for anyone taking on a wide variety of household tasks and projects. It's not for just 20-year-old men, 40-year- old crafters or 50-year-old gardeners. It's for just about everyone. The Cuts+More helps you get more done without rummaging through every drawer in the house and has the versatility to tackle chores one wouldn't normally think a scissors could solve.
The Cuts+More Scissors is the first in a line of multipurpose cutting tools which will be expanded in 2011 and beyond. You'll see tools designed for different applications that incorporate different functions, but all focused on solving real world situations better so you can get done with your tasks faster. Whether that's a hardware tool that helps you hang that picture your girlfriend just brought home so you can get back to the football game on TV, or a tool that makes you a hero in your nephew's eyes because you got his new remote-controlled dinosaur up and running before mom could even find a screwdriver. The end vision is that everyone will own this first Cuts+More and whatever other +More tools that resonate with their life and that help make the task at hand easier and more enjoyable.
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Colin Roberts is an Industrial Designer at Fiskars Americas with a BS in Design from the University of Cincinnati. Also contributing to this product were Senior Industrial Designer Daniel Lipscomb and ID Intern Molly Opitz, both with a BFA from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and Doug Nelson, Design Engineer with a BS in Materials Science from Virginia Tech.