This is a big day for sugru!
The Leon Paul Evolution handle, a foil handle for fencers which can be personalised and continuously evolved by athletes themselves, and the first product designed around sugru, will premiere this evening at the WIRED 2012 Conference in London.
Leon Paul London is one of the best brands in the world of equipment and clothing for Fencers. It's a family business, now in the 5th generation. Two years ago, Alex Paul, who is passionate about introducing innovation and new materials to their products, discovered sugru. He told us that for years it has been the dream of fencers to be able to customise and personalise their foil handles. It turns out Fencers, like many sportspeople, are natural hackers, and so in the past, they've used everything from epoxy to handlebar tape to velcro to help, but the solution always remained as a hack.
Alex was very excited when he came to us - could sugru finally be the answer? The foil handles are made from aluminium, one of sugru's favourite materials to stick to, so we said... yes! we think so!
The premise was pretty simple: design a foil handle incomplete, where the athlete would add sugru to build up the perfect customised grip. Through trials and dialogue with fencers, coaches and Olympic athletes including Bas Verwijlen and James Davis (Team GB London 2012), it has now developed into something even more exciting. Rather than creating just more comfortable grips, the athletes instinctively started to manipulate and redesign the shape of the handle to help them in their game.
In this video, James (Creative Director here) tells all about it.
The Leon Paul Evolution handle, due to launch in the coming weeks will come in two parts:
1. A metal part (which is made by lost wax aluminium casting) that has grooved areas designed into it in the places where the athletes hand has the most need for customisation...
2. And a sugru part. The athlete forms the sugru onto the handle as required. It can provide both comfort, cushioning, grip and increased control over the shape of the equipment. As sugru sticks very well to itself, and can also be easily carved away, the athlete can keep evolving his handle as his technique develops, making his equipment work as hard as possible for his competitive advantage.
And we're thrilled that the product will have its premier this evening at the WIRED 2012 Conference here in London - WIRED Magazine's annual event showcasing the "innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs defining the future." There will be a live fencing match with James Davis at 7pm and an exhibition and demo area for the duration of the 2 day event. The match will be commentated by Karim Bashir, BBC sports analyst. James and Alex will talk through the design process of the handle, and why this is a big step in product design. After he's finished fencing, James Davis will explain how the handle he customised handle has helped his technique and performance.
Finally, we're excited to see where this concept can go next! Perhaps more sports equipment, protective helmets, sports footwear....
As James says on the video...
"It's exciting now, to think of a future, where products are manufactured incomplete, and the customer is the expert."