For a long time, the clothes racks of the Swiss cult brand “Stewi” stood above all for functionality and quality. Now the Winterthur-based company is launching a new product line that also places great emphasis on appearance. With its new design, the company wants to conquer not only the garden and laundry room, but also the living room.
Until now, it has been both a blessing and a curse: the ease of use and durability of the laundry dryers made by the Winterthur-based company Stewi have helped it to achieve success and a good reputation since 1947. But at some point most households had their “Stewi”. Sales figures dropped and the traditional company was in danger of going under. There was a lack of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation.
This was to change when the two entrepreneurs Lorenz Fäh and Stephan Ebnöther took over the business in 2017. The two new company owners hoped to get the prominent problem case back on the road to success as soon as possible. They already achieved the turnaround in the figures in mid-2018: turnover and profit rose again. But it was also clear that this was not enough. Without further investments and new product developments, the plan will not work.
New design – old values
Now – 20 years after the last innovation from Stewi – the company is launching its new “Tomorrow” product line with laundry racks, laundry collectors and laundry servers. “With this, we want to go where it is also beautiful,” says Stefan Ebnöther. What he means by that is: into the living area. His business partner Lorenz Fäh puts it more concretely: “Today, clothes drying racks are always hidden away immediately after use, or banished straight to the cellar anyway.” Thanks to the high-quality design in matt black or white, the new products should now also be seen in the living room.
The new line was developed in collaboration with the internationally renowned industrial designer Wolfgang Meyer-Hayoz and his team – also from Winterthur. However, the focus was not only on a design with a high recognition value; functionality is also still important. Thanks to the joint created especially for “Tomorrow”, the products can be unfolded and folded again with a flick of the wrist: a patented world first. In order to be able to manufacture the new products from A to Z in Switzerland, Stewi invested a little more than one million Swiss francs this year in two new, ultra-modern injection moulding machines and other production equipment. This enabled the company to expand its automation. “This is the only way to keep production in Switzerland and still be able to offer prices in line with the market,” says Stephan Ebnöther. With the new “Tomorrow” product line, Stewi is also addressing a new target audience: design-afine people who move with the times – but still rely on old values like durability.