Nieheimer Straße 38
  Phone: +49 5272 608-0
  Fax: +49 5272 608-300
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  Producer of classic and design heavy-duty hardware for doors and windows, mortice locks, door closers and hinges in matching styles and materials, electronic access management systems and universal barrier-free concepts


FSB - Franz Schneider Brakel

A gripping story that’s none too short.


Getting a grip on ar­chi­tec­ture:

It’s in your hands.

Prod­ucts by FSB are to be found wher­ever ar­chi­tec­ture meets “handle culture” - in short, at the cusp between people and ar­chi­tec­ture. They var­i­ously include our classic heavy-duty hard­ware for doors and windows plus mortice locks, door closers and hinges in match­ing styles and ma­te­ri­als and our (grip­pingly) con­ve­nience-fo­cused Er­goSys­tem®, a uni­ver­sal bar­rier-free concept that has es­tab­lished itself in the mar­ket­place amongst all age groups.

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. Thus it comes as no great sur­prise that prod­ucts and all-in so­lu­tions “made in Brakel” are to be en­coun­tered in build­ings by noted ar­chi­tects the world over and, indeed, wher­ever the em­pha­sis is on style.

Com­pre­hen­sive sys­temic so­lu­tions for today’s Public Project sector

Our company’s lo­ca­tion in Brakel - in the eastern West­phalian sticks as it were - led us to expand our hori­zons from an early stage, thus giving rise to the likes of our isis systems for elec­tronic access man­age­ment. Notwith­stand­ing the fact that the various isis hard­ware types in­cor­po­rate so­phis­ti­cated tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions, the un­der­ly­ing concept was solely driven by a desire for sim­plic­ity. isis systems are easy to install, ad­min­is­ter and operate.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion concept is sin­gle-mind­edly geared towards in­tu­itive user prompt­ing and great ease of han­dling - re­gard­less of whether op­er­a­tion is with soft­ware (isis M300) or chip­cards (isis M100). The systems men­tioned ad­di­tion­ally serve as an easily handled in­tro­duc­tion to access man­age­ment and do not require any de­ci­sions of the user that he or she may not be in a po­si­tion to make - or in­clined to do so. This is ir­re­spec­tive of whether bud­get­ing or plan­ning issues are in­volved. Straight­for­ward, up-to-the-minute tech­nol­ogy is some­thing that can be utterly taken for granted with us; design, er­gonom­ics and ease of han­dling are special dis­ci­plines that come on top. Tech­nol­ogy is there to serve people in the first in­stance, after all.

“Living in bar­rier-free comfort” is the ideal put to effect in the di­ag­o­nal-oval Er­goSys­tem® for san­i­tary and res­i­den­tial ap­pli­ca­tions. Terms such as “uni­ver­sal design”, “age-re­spon­sive ac­com­mo­da­tion schemes”, market studies for the “50-plus gen­er­a­tion” or “best agers” are common cur­rency these days, and it is oc­ca­sion­ally for­got­ten that this is a sector that was in its infancy just a few years ago. The ideas that cul­mi­nated in Er­goSys­tem® drew on sci­en­tific methods and the quest, un­der­taken with the Fraun­hofer In­sti­tute in the 1990s, to find the best design of lever handle for heavily fre­quented doors, a process that yielded the FSB 7655 model. We were one of the first to factor the fore­see­able de­mo­graphic shift into a self-stand­ing han­dle-sys­tem and fit­ments concept that once again broke with ac­cepted pat­terns and went its own way in terms of design, func­tion and er­gonom­ics.

Er­goSys­tem® con­sid­er­ably sim­pli­fies bath­room rou­tines for the hand­i­capped and able-bod­ied alike. This is a creed that has spawned a great many in­di­vid­ual prod­ucts over the past decade that include a wide range handles of char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally di­ag­o­nal-oval cross-sec­tion, canny func­tional details on seats and seem­ingly non­de­script shower-head holders. These latter “wet cell” im­ple­ments took a number of res­olute Brakel staff an ex­ceed­ingly long time to bring to con­cep­tual per­fec­tion in­ci­den­tally.

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 in Brakel too, de­ci­sively so in the decade between 1953 and 1963: Jo­hannes Potente created his seminal moulded-to-the-hand style at FSB, a style that is still ap­plic­a­ble today and which in­spired Otl Aicher to draw up his “Four-Point Guide to Good Grip”. 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.

At the same time as steadily growing our design ex­cel­lence, we have never ceased re­fin­ing our man­u­fac­tur­ing processes either: an ongoing policy of mod­ernising and op­ti­mis­ing pro­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies and rou­tines has col­luded with our predilec­tion for “feisty” ma­te­ri­als like fine-grade steel, alu­minium, brass and bronze to ensure our prod­ucts last far longer than ought to be to our liking from a busi­ness eco­nom­ics point of view.

Pub­lish­ers with a side­line in door handles

We again took our future into our own hands in the 1980s: under the in­tel­lec­tual guid­ance of de­signer-cum-men­tor 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 thum­brest, a fore­fin­ger furrow, support for the palm and suf­fi­cient grip­ping bulk. The process of crit­i­cal analy­sis and re-ori­en­ta­tion was ac­com­pa­nied by an edition of books that is now part of the stan­dard reper­toire at col­leges running design or eco­nomic studies courses.

Otl Aicher “re­warded” us for our an­a­lytic prob­ings by pro­duc­ing the stylised-han­dle logo so popular amongst handle culture en­thu­si­asts today for FSB. It was in­spired by a handle as unfussy as it was clever which the philoso­pher Ludwig Wittgen­stein de­signed for the house built between 1926 and 1928 in Vienna for his sister.

“A rod only becomes a lever through the nature of its use”, is how Wittgen­stein summed up the sim­plic­ity un­der­pin­ning his design. His handle was some­thing of an ideal for Otl Aicher. He viewed it not as an optimum moulded-to-the-hand design but as a handle for all con­ceiv­able forms of op­er­a­tion - in­clud­ing with one’s little finger. It is the sum of all handles, their quin­tes­sence. A fitting logo for us as we see it.

Names wanted (but not for drop­ping)

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

Even those who had pre­vi­ously managed to grasp the world as ex­ist­ing without FSB were soon cog­nisant with the work­shop’s 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, one to which noted ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers were thence­forth to turn with great gusto.

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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