In 2012, Marion Excoffon – industrial design graduate of the Paris design school École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI) – co-founded TIWAL to bring to market innovative inflatable sports products. Her first product, the TIWAL 3.2 inflatable dinghy, which she developed with help from design agency Fritsch-Durisotti, recently won the Red Dot Award 2014 Best of the Best prize.

It took designer Excoffon three years to develop her sailing dinghy, which she wanted to design for single or double-handed sailing that would be fun to use, easily transportable, light but also offer unrivalled sailing performance. She drew her inspiration from a seemingly unlikely source – the aesthetics of stealth aircraft.

“I wanted to rise above the traditional image of inflatable material so that the user would be proud to sail the TIWAL. The stealth aircraft in the military was particularly interesting in that matter, with its taut forms that are flexible and aggressive at the same time,” explains Excoffon.

One of the most challenging aspects of the project was the design of the aluminium structure, which had to be strong enough to absorb the stresses of sailing in windy conditions but also be affordable and easy to assemble and then disassemble.

“Having to set this structure on an inflatable hull added another challenge, and the interactions between the two parts could not be calculated by computers. We had to try a number of prototypes,” says Excoffon.

With the final product complete (3.20 m length, 1.60 m width and 5.20m² or 7m² sail area) the TIWAL 3.2 was officially launched in 2012. It retails from €5490 and has received worldwide interest.

“The TIWAL is very user-friendly and is also a true performance boat that offers great gliding thrills,” says Excoffon, of the success it’s received. “It allows an escape to all those who dream of setting off on the high seas to discover the pleasures of sailing. It is a versatile boat. I especially like the wings. They can make sailing of the boat a real sport or provide comfortable seating with back support for a family outing.”

The Red Dot the Best of the Best prize will be presented to the French company on 7 July during a ceremony in Essen, Germany. The TIWAL 3.2 will then be on show for three years at the Red Dot Museum.

See exclusive coverage of the Red Dot Awards in Curve Issue forty-eight released in July 2014.

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