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Photo of the ABB Research Award Trophy

The ABB Research Award Trophy

Portrait about the trophy and the artist Fritz Jakob Gräber.

The creative process to design a trophy for the ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Grünberg was triggered by the idea that research and development is an always-on process, as scientists continue tirelessly in their search for new and better solutions.

One of the inspirations was the “Möbius strip”, first described in 1858 by mathematician and physicist Johann Benedict Listing from Göttingen, and the mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius, Leipzig. This strip has a single side and edge. It cannot be oriented, meaning you cannot differentiate between the bottom and top or the inside and outside.

This unique strip fascinated mathematicians as well as artists for decades. Practical uses emerged in the meantime. For instance, engineers began constructing conveyor and drive belts as Möbius belts so that both sides of the belt are evenly worn. Scientists kept investigating the mathematical riddle that this strip posed and finally, in 2007, two physicists cracked the code. They made it possible to achieve the perfect length and width of the Möbius loop with numbers. The ABB Research award recognizes such dedication to groundbreaking research.

“To come up with a design for the ABB Research Award Trophy was a very special and unique mission as well as a challenge,” said product-designer Fritz Jakob Gräber. He wanted the trophy to combine tradition and modernity, symbolizing ABB's values of combining origin and future, and paying tribute to the importance of science, research and development.

The designer Fritz Jakob Gräber, Zurich chose ceramics, one of the oldest known materials, for the trophy to ensure that the sculpture got a handmade touch. To produce the trophy, Fritz Jakob chose one of the most modern manufacturing processes, called Selective Laser Sintering, commonly referred to as 3D-printing. The trophy was manufactured in a small factory in the UK, as this 3D printing process is very special and sophisticated. The sculpture was gazed in an oven which made the surface extremely smooth, just like a unique piece of porcelain.

The designer

"Making things that work is important to me, but always with a certain twist,” says Fritz Jakob Gräber, a 30-year old Swiss, describing his approach as a product-designer. The ABB Research Award trophy was a very special and unique challenge for him since it is more of a sculpture and not an article of daily use.

Fritz Jakob Gräber is based in Zurich. He develops products, furniture, lighting as well as scenography and has often questioned traditional production methods in his projects. 

"Making things that work is important to me, but always with a certain twist,” says Fritz Jakob Gräber, a 30-year old Swiss, describing his approach as a product-designer. The ABB Research Award trophy was a very special and unique challenge for him since it is more of a sculpture and not an article of daily use.
Fritz Jakob Gräber is based in Zurich. He develops products, furniture, lighting as well as scenography and has often questioned traditional production methods in his projects.

Due to his work at Studio Hannes Wettstein, his wide experience in different crafts as well as his MA studies in Product Design at écal, Lausanne, he is used to approaching projects from different perspectives. His portfolio shows a mix of private and commissioned work over the last few years. "Before I start, I need to understand," explains Fritz Jakob Gräber. In general, feasibility and efficiency - especially for product design - is essential for him. 


Fritz Jakob Gräber is a passionate craftsman and enthusiastic about technology at the same time. He has a large workshop where a lot of his designs are built as prototypes or even in small quantities. In his spare time, he likes to restore old motorcycles with friends in his second garage.