Behind The Work

COVID-19: OPENING DOORS FOR CREATIVITY

Senior Writer and Editor
Patricia Murphy joined Havas Group in October 2019 as a Senior Editor and Writer. She has a background in digital journalism and content creation.
HAVAS LIFE DÜSSELDORF TACKLES COVID ANXIETY WITH AN INNOVATIVE 3D PRINTED DOOR HANDLE, OPERATED BY A SIMPLE TOUCH OF THE ELBOW.

As lockdowns begin to lift across the globe, actions that were once mindless, like calling the elevator, or hanging off a subway pole, will now have us thinking twice about the surfaces we touch. Stringent hand hygiene has become a daily priority throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to be at the forefront of our minds as long as the virus continues to threaten lives. Prior to shutdown measures in Germany, Senior Art Director Christian Höfels observed many of his anxious colleagues at Havas Life Düsseldorf struggling to open office doors with their elbows in an effort to avoid direct skin-to-surface contact. This laborious activity sparked innovation for Höfels and his team, who have designed a solution to the problem — a 3D-printed handle, which will direct office doors to open with a simple touch of the elbow. “The idea itself came from the simple observation that almost everyone in the office had resorted to using their elbows to open the doors in the agency,” said Höfels. “As a healthcare agency we were driven to create something meaningful that would really have a positive impact during this time.”

Throughout quarantine, the team has been developing various prototypes for the door handle, which they hope will play a part in making the office a more comfortable environment when employees return. The team’s Creative Technologist Arnaud Atchimon, of Havas Germany, said speed of the 3D-printing process has allowed Havas Life to develop the door handle in record time. “The amazing thing about 3D printing is that it allowed us to quickly test our initial ideas and concepts until we had a model that we think would satisfy the prerequisite we had set,” said Atchimon. “The handle needed to be robust, easy to install and, of course, print rapidly. A 3D printer with the right settings and medical grade filament should be able to print a handle in less than three hours. After a few tries we now have a solid prototype, but further improvement and testing has been delayed by the lockdown. Right now, we are focusing on the design and compatibility.”

The team hopes the door handle will benefit the entire Havas Group, but also greater society. Atchimon said: “We want to share the 3D printing files with everyone and contact some healthcare companies to produce the door handle ‘for real’. We would love for them to be donated to kindergartens or retirement homes and serve an important purpose there.”

Creative Director Christoph Damanik believes this project is an example of how Havas Group has pulled together through this difficult experience. “The simple fact that so many talented people came together so quickly to create something that could help the general public is amazing,” he said. “And it really opens up possibilities for future work that really benefits a lot of people.”

Dirk Poschenrieder, Managing Director of the agency, said the results of this project are something the Group should be extremely proud of, especially because it was achieved remotely. “We are enormously proud of this project and how well everyone at Havas Life has adapted to working from home,” he said. “Our people and also our clients are engaged and motivated in spite of the challenges posed by this difficult time. Sometimes it feels that the agency-client relationship has become closer. The fact is, we’re all in the same boat trying to make it through rough seas. But nothing replaces the personal contact in an office with colleagues or a hug between human beings so we are looking forward to getting back to that, whenever that may be.”

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