Here's an interesting design challenge that extends beyond the design of the object you're trying to get into people's homes: Imagine you and your team have designed your thing, whatever it may be, and have engineered the parts to be manufacturable. Now you have to design an additional line of objects that people can use to assemble the initial object with complete precision.
That's the challenge faced by companies like Häfele, Hettich and Blum, as the fittings they devise in their respective studios must be physically installed at the end-user's location by a legion of independent tradespeople. While Ikea handles this by using simple designs, knockdown screws, cam nuts and black-and-white illustrations that any idjit can follow, the fixtures by the previous three companies—just look at Blum's Legrabox, for instance—require ultra-precise assembly by a professional in order to function properly. And because most European cabinetry is made from melamine-covered particle board, there's no margin for error: Holes must be drilled perfectly perpendicular and at the correct depth on the very first try, as there's no patching up marred laminate and shredded screw holes.
So we found Blum's side booth at Holz-Handwerk pretty fascinating, since it was aimed not at consumers or designers but at the tool-toting tradespeople who will be installing Blum's designs in their own clients' homes. Blum has produced a line of drilling machines, assembly rigs and clever jigs, along with CG videos, that tradesfolk can use to get everything together. And these assembly devices, which will never be seen by the general public, are all beautifully designed in their own right. Here's their drilling jig for installing cabinet door dampers, either into the edge of the cabinet wall or affixed to the side of it:
This jig for drilling mounting plates uses a simple trick that carpenters who've ever drilled holes for shelf pins will recognize: A metal pin, placed into the first hole, ensures the second will be precisely spaced.
This wicked object used for drilling a wide, offset hole for a servo-drive switch caught our eye, as it's got a built-in clamp and a Forstner bit:
On the more diverse end of the scale, their adjustable Universal Drilling Template has a multitude of applications, and looks so cool that I wanted one without even knowing what it did:
While these simple jigs above are all things that can be carried around in a toolbox, Blum also makes far more sophisticated devices more akin to proper shop equipment. Their Minipress Pro, for instance, can perform a variety of drilling and even assembly operations:
Black-and-white drawings and friendly-looking Allen key it ain't, but this is the price of precision.