From an idea to a protected design

With her key holder, Karin Sieber came up with a clever solution to a problem and became an entrepreneur. We pay a visit to the business owner’s workshop in the St Gallen Rhine Valley.

Karin Sieber in her workshop.
Karin Sieber in her workshop. Image: IPI

Have you misplaced your keys again today? The annoying search for missing objects has even been empirically studied (article in german). But that's all water under the bridge for Karin Sieber. As she enters her workshop in the St. Gallen Rhine Valley, she simply slides her car keys into the key holder she created. The impressively simple design of an aluminium rail with felt inserts is making its mark. Karin produces up to 500 samples every month, the majority of which are hand-made. In the meantime, she is even receiving orders from South Korea.


This key holder is a chameleon

The key to the product’s success lies in its versatility. With the help of some ingenious metal attachments, the aluminium rail can transform into a coat rack or a place to store your sunglasses, umbrella or smartphone. “The customers particularly appreciate the versatility of the key holder,” says Karin Sieber, who has even been awarded the prestigious Red Dot Award for her product.


More security thanks to design protection

Karin Sieber dealt with protecting her creation at an early stage. “That was very important to me from the beginning,” she says. She contacted the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI), spoke with a staff member at the Contact Centre and got confirmation that she would need apply to protect the shape of the key holder. The experts in the Design Division were then on hand to answer any questions she had. The entry of the design into the register gave Karin Sieber the protection she needed and she can now defend her creation from copycats.


A bit of 'Swissness' involved too

Meanwhile, it’s late afternoon and the designer is making her way to a nearby saddlery business, which sews the felt inserts for the aluminium rail. The key holder is entirely manufactured in the inventor’s native St Gallen Rhein Valley. “That’s something close to my heart. I believe that we should support local businesses,” concludes Karin Sieber.

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