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20 Aug 2018

The art of turning a need into a unique product

Interview with Franck Bellencontre, Head of the Design Office.

The Design Office of the Calais and Déols sites of Balsan (a subsidiary of Groupe Marck) now consists of a multidisciplinary team of 10 people with specific prerogatives and tasks related to their various functions.

Four main functions and operations are thus carried out within the Design Office:

  • submitting of tender bids,
  • modelling for the creation of patterns,
  • analysis of product parts lists (wire, thermo-bonding, fabric, etc.) to determine prices,
  • prototyping for product assembly

The modeller is a multi-product employee since they are required to work on trousers, overalls and jackets. For this purpose, they use two complementary pattern techniques: flat (using computer-aided design software) and/or moulded (on dummies). To the nearest centimetre in the case of custom-made clothing (such as for the Republican Guard or grande école prestigious graduate schools) or, for pure creations, using measurements and designs determined by prior discussions with the customer.


It is a highly specialised profession that requires a high level of technical skills and know-how, as well as a creative spirit. The prototyper profession represents the highest specialty as it involves assembling a product from A to Z, ensuring that the pattern complies with the specifications, and guaranteeing and checking the product’s compliance at assembly level. And we are also able to submit the prototype to the customer.

Franck Bellencontre, Head of the Design Office

To ensure a constant quality level, the clothing assembly procedure has to be reproducible in the case of a larger production series, and the Design Office has thus established a technical file which includes all the stages in the manufacturing process. This includes parts lists, patterns, packaging, the assembly method, etc.

As the essential link between the sales department and the productiondepartment, the Design Office compiles, via the sales representatives, a customer’s statement of requirements and then has to analyse and review it in greater detail so as to translate this requirement into a functional product, fully identifying the company’s image and presenting a timeless design. “We create a real synergy with our customers through extensive discussions in order to understand their specificities and the environment in which they operate, tailor our bids and proposals, identify the best solutions and develop products fully meeting their requirements. »