Ali had the pleasure of interviewing Freddi Brodmann, of Brodmann Blade fame a little while ago. Whether you’re an old-school or a new-school Ping Ponger, you should give them a whirl. If you’re headed to some popular p.p. spot, bring them along and blow everyones’ minds. Without further ado, take it away Ali and Fredi!
The Brodmann blades are fantastic! I can think of so many times when a pickup game of ping pong is in order…especially at 3:00 in the afternoon at work, when you feel like napping at your desk, the conference table is free, others are also close to napping…why not ping pong it? Or in a park, or in the basement, or right on the kitchen table. Any other places or times we haven’t thought of?
Thanks for the compliment! I believe in Ping Pong Therapy, too!
Tell us about the design process in creating the blades and what sparked the idea initially.
Yes, they are quite a species. It was not the usual design process as you know it that lead to the result,rather an accident at the beach three summers ago when I played velcro ball with my son. He threw the ball and I will never forget how I flew through the air like a goalkeeper to catch it and fell into the sand. When I looked at the plate that was strapped to my hand time stopped and there was the red ball stuck to the surface and I thought “why not ping pong like that?! Then I slowly turned my hand 180º like a robot and the next thought came: “… and a plate over that side, too.” And the rest is history.
Word on the street is that your “invention represents the first revolutionary update since the beginning of the sport in the 1800’s.” What would you say are the major differences between your blades and the more traditional paddles?
I was born in Vienna but left my home town in 1979 to come to NYC. Ironically, that is where the Chair of Rules world wide resides. Through continuous research in the course of the development one of my contacts I found Dr. Neubauer, who makes high performance rubber layers for the pro sport, and he was the first person giving me positive feedback on my concept at the earliest stage in 2006. He encouraged me to go ahead and provided me with many valuable names that matter in the table tennis industry, amongst them Rudolf Sporrer in Vienna.
The major difference between traditional paddles and the BRODMANN BLADES™ is they are different but they are not really different and they are very fun to use. Because there is no grip to hold on to and because we eliminated the middle man, a player can respond more directly and naturally to a ball. You are the paddle!
Once you get into it there is a wide array of movements and shots available. You discover as you go forward. Kids learn to play right away and ambition is triggered to really control your hit. The slightly shorter reach forces you to be faster and get on your toes more. The work out impact is tremendous so it is a great training device. Also for the elderly who have a hard time holding a paddle handle it is an ideal tool for some exercise and fun.
If you could see your Brodmann Blades on the hands of anyone who might it be?
Ping Pong is for every one so of course I would love to make it a household name. But beyond that I hope that the professional table tennis players will consider it and young players will start training from the get go. I hope I can get it also to Bill Gates who is an avid pongist…
What is your workspace/studio like? I work out of my studio which is in my house. Very convenient. It is not big, but it’s super-practical and there is enough space for a big computer and lots of blade proto studies, watches and books…besides that I work anywhere – my mind never sleeps. I am a day and night person and function on little sleep. I prefer to be on my feet, otherwise I sleep. Sitting is mostly reserved to the computer time…
I have to ask, how often do you play ping pong? As often as I can. Which is not that often. But we play on our kitchen table which is oval and sometimes I go to FatCat in NYC to meet with people for blade demos. I fear this will become more and more part of my launching service …
What advice would you give aspiring designers?
Don’t try too hard to have ideas. Trust your creativity and patent a design right away when it is valid.
Finally, what is next for Fredi Brodmann and/or the Brodmann Blades? Dividing the time between my watch business and the blades. Lots of traveling as an ambassador, developing the future versions of the concept and help the brand evolve internationally. Besides that I am working on a new seat for bicycles and a tennis racquet.
Hi, I'm Becky. I live in Atlanta. Besides acting as the Editorial Director here on Hatch, you can find me talking design over at Houzz. Make me happy — leave a comment!