How can products become emotionally accessible if they are just powders, granules and liquids? How can decision-makers be encouraged to rethink their use of materials and to discover the amazing capabilities of new materials for their production? With storytelling, a thought experiment and innovations inspired by history...

BASF, the world's largest chemical company, has a broad portfolio of performance materials with amazing capabilities. Unfortunately, they are very inconspicuous since they come along as powders, granules and liquids. As part of our innovation projects for BASF, RSW developed the strategy of using methodical storytelling to make these hard-to-communicate products more tangible. The idea behind it is, that a vividly told story attracts the attention and concentration of people more easily than a rational approach.

With this strategy, we created various design studies, exhibition concepts, films and brochures over several years, that were able to attract worldwide media attention without additional advertising budgets.

Chapter 1 — Concept 1865 Rethinking Materials

Conspicuous with its wheels of different sizes, the velocipede was the first pedal-powered cycle in history. Together with BASF we have rebuilt the 19th century bike as a modern e-bike. But why? With the "Concept 1865", we are taking a trip back to the year 1865, when BASF was founded. This was also the point in time when Karl Drais' wooden "Dandy horse" was given its first pedals, which launched the bicycle on the road to global success.

As a tribute to this era of enthusiasm for technology and invention, we have embarked on an unparalleled thought experiment and asked:

How would the first pedal cycle have looked if the pioneers of the bike had had today's advanced materials to work with?

In cooperation with BASF, we have developed the E-Velocipede "Concept 1865". It is a ready-to-ride prototype with an electric drive and 24 polymer applications, some of which are highly innovative like the bearingless all-plastic pedals made of Ultrason® or the light and punctureproof tires made of Infinergy®.

By implementing this design study RSW obviously does not intend to reinvent the bicycle, let alone the wheel. Under the slogan »Rethinking Materials«, the unusual e-bike is in fact an invitation to customers to join the company in developing new applications and product ideas utilizing advanced plastics. It is an invitation to question the status quo and create something new - just as the pioneers of cycling did in their time.

As general contractor, RSW were responsible for the idea, design and construction same as projects realisation and project management. In addition, we developed the communication strategy with print media, film and exhibition design. With a tight schedule of 6 months between the first briefing and roll-out, we could rely on the help of the numerous project partners from our network.


"We worked with RSW on the development of the Concept Bike 1865. We are very satisfied with the implementation of the task and the final result of the project. The outstanding internal and external effect of the Concept Bike surprised us in its dimension and is no less creditable to RSW, whose competent and professional manner contributed significantly to the success of the project. We can recommend RSW without hesitation."

Thomas Stührenberg , BASF Project Management Concept 1865

Behind the Scenes

Making the movie

Making the Bike

Chapter 2 — BASF Fabriktage 2015

In the year of BASFs 150th anniversary, RSW were involved in relocating the BASF designfabrik® from Ludwigshafen to Milan. As part of the Milan Furniture Fair, BASF presented materials and projects in a cabinet that amazed with optical tricks and ideas.


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