Freecom collaborates with SYLVAIN WILLENZ / Design Studio

Since 2007, FREECOM and SYLVAIN WILLENZ Design Studio have collaborated on various projects resulting in a family of rubber enclosed hard-drives ranging from the Mobile Drive XXS in 2008 to the CLS in 2010. A prolific venture and exchange of competences, granted by several international awards and top institutions.


SYLVAIN WILLENZ works internationally with renowned clients such as Established & Sons (UK), Karimoku (JP), Feld (BE), Tamawa (BE) amongst others. Valuing most and for all a good understanding of manufacturers' needs, Willenz presents powerful, straightforward and uncomplicated design solutions. With an approach to design characterized by a clear inquisitiveness for materials and processes, Willenz and his team, work on various projects ranging from lighting to products, IT electronic domestic appliances, accessories and furniture.

Recognition and prizes

In 2009, the FREECOM Mobile Drive XXS was granted several awards including an iF Award and a Red Dot Award "Best of the Best" in Product Design. The XXS also received the prestigious Belgian Henry Van de Velde Label Award for quality. That same year, Willenz's designs for other companies were also awarded various prizes, such as his rubber Torch Lights series for Established & Sons (UK), which were nominated Best in Lighting and Best in Product at the 2009 UK Grand Designs Awards. Leading Design Critics and Museums from Belgium nominated Willenz as Belgian Designer of the year.

In 2010, the new FREECOM Mobile Drive CLS is granted an iF Award and a Henry Van de Velde Label, and in 2011, it received a Red Dot "Best of the Best" award in Product Design.

From the Freecom Mobile Drive XXS to the CLS

The Mobile Drive XXS is a perfect example of Willenz's approach and work-spirit. FREECOM had asked for a small, slim and minimal new surprising design. In response, Willenz skipped the usual ordinary aluminum or hard plastic enclosure and enclosed the hard drive directly in a rubber sleeve! This was a rather daring and unconventional concept, an unforeseen solution and truly, the first of a kind. Making the enclosure from rubber meant avoiding the use of multiple parts and screws. The enclosure consists of one part only, which also serves as a protective skin. By reducing the amount of material, this enabled FREECOM and SYLVAIN WILLENZ to produce the smallest Hard Drive on the market.

Indeed the XXS was conceived in such a way to be as simple as possible, yet rich in detail and form and to have its own character. The design focuses its attention on a combination of function and minimal esthetics. Throughout the product development, Willenz longed for a subtle, delicate, clean and non-obtrusive design.

This new principle was then applied to bigger desktop hard drive, like the XS, the Network Drive XS. Then it was even applied to a super small 1.8” hard drive, the FREECOM USB Memory, with a silver enclosure: Again something conceptually unexpected!

In 2010 FREECOM and SYLVAIN WILLENZ saw the opportunity to considerably improve the original XXS both in terms of functionality for the user and in terms of optimized production. Indeed, the CLS (Collect Label and Store) offers a practical labeling system while the way its skin is produced offers more production-effectiveness and defines an improved final esthetic; the hole through which the Hard Drive is inserted is no longer visible and sealed by the labeling system, thus also protecting more efficiently the hard drive from dust.

The CLS comes with its own plastic case, enabling further and better order of data. It even includes a cable. And on top of that, FREECOM and SYLVAIN WILLENZ imagined a practical CLS Docking Station, welcoming 3 CLS’ at one time.

Transparent Design / Good Design

The FREECOM Mobile Drive XXS and the CLS are perfect examples of great designs. Funnily enough, they seem to have no design at all. Indeed, their underlying beauties lie in discreet and almost invisible details. These items look so simple one may feel to have seen them already. However, at a second glance, one discovers the hidden subtleties. The material is different, the branding is discreet. Other inscriptions and details are discreetly positioned and molded in the same material as the sleeve itself, so as to maintain a consistent esthetic language throughout the item as a whole. The concept is complete. It makes sense. There is nothing superfluous.