Design means making things easier (and, where possible, more sustainable, too). This formula could be used to describe the common approach taken by the young creative minds whose designs have been shortlisted for imm cologne’s 17th Pure Talents Contest. Intelligent, sustainable, original and also beautiful to look at – these are the 20 best entries to imm cologne’s competition for up-and-coming designers. In January, they will be on display in the special exhibition at the Interior Business Event in Cologne.
The shortlist has been finalised – a total of 20 innovative products from the interiors world of 23 international designers will be on show at imm cologne 2020 as part of the Pure Talents Contest exhibition. With their design solutions, the young designers have addressed climate change or developed multifunctional ideas for changing living circumstances. The prototypes presented in person by the designers range from an open-source vacuum cleaner to a collection of vases made of 100% recycled acrylic through to multifunctional tables and workstations. The Pure Talents Contest showcases 20 ideas for the lifestyles of tomorrow.
With 862 products submitted from 59 nations, Cologne’s competition for the next generation of designers is set to reaffirm its international reputation. A new panel is assembled to judge the Pure Talents Contest every year, and this year’s jurors met in Cologne in October to view the products that had been submitted from all around the world. Only 20 have made it through to the exhibition, which attracts designers and manufacturers as well as design enthusiasts every year during the Interior Business Event, imm cologne. In keeping with its high standards for quality and internationality, the Pure Talents Contests 2020 jury demonstrates its usual high calibre with designers Sebastian Herkner (Germany), Philippe Malouin (United Kingdom) and Gesa Hansen (Germany/Denmark) as well as Art Director at Cappellini, Giulio Cappellini (Italy), IDEAT editor Johannes Hünig and head curator of Helsinki Design Museum, Suvi Saloniemi.
The competition, promoted and organised by Koelnmesse for what is now the 17th time, is specifically aimed at designers who are still studying or have recently completed their education. It is one of the world’s most prestigious international contests for young design. Entrants once again include many students and recent graduates from distinguished design schools such as Design Academy Eindhoven, École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), Bauhaus University Weimar, Lund University and Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts. Sebastian Herkner draws attention to the well-rounded international mix represented by the entrants and the high quality of the designs put forward by this year’s competitors. In addition to dominant themes like sustainability, he was also struck by the recurrent motif of transparency and the lightweight nature of the materials used in many of the products. “Overall,” the Offenbach-based designer says, “the selection shows the whole spectrum of product design from the conceptual and sometimes even poetic to classic furniture design, including the design of lighting fixtures and textiles, and all the way through to gallery objects.”
Perfect prototypes for a world in need of improvement
While much of what is currently on-trend in home furnishings is again glamorous and elegant, the selected products by the next generation of designers are characterised by a relatively low-key appearance, often coupled with the no-less-elegant appeal of subtle seriousness and a refusal to compromise. In creating their pieces, some designers have imagined themselves in different living circumstances and questioned habits and standard responses, seeking out more sustainable alternatives. The exhibition will feature many everyday objects that have been reduced to their bare essentials, making modern life simpler and more manageable. The jury has stressed that many of the shortlisted products are already very advanced. “Maybe it has something to do with the uncertain times we’re living in, but even the designs created by the young are less experimental and instead more enduring and serious,” says juror Suvi Saloniemi, commenting on the high quality of this year’s competition entries, “but in a good way, an elegant way – there are some really beautiful things.”
Always there to promote young designers
The next step for the 23 nominees is to get ready to travel to imm cologne 2020. The shortlist of contestants includes four teams, while one designer has got through to the exhibition stage with two products. This year’s finalists come from 13 different nations; alongside a strong field of contestants from Germany and the rest of Europe, Asia is remarkably well represented with six shortlisted designers.
imm cologne takes its role in supporting young talent very seriously: “We deliberately focus on the quality of the exhibited designs, rather than on their quantity,” explains Matthias Pollmann, Koelnmesse’s Vice President Trade Fair Management. “We are thrilled by the success of this concept. Every year, the Pure Talents Contest produces designers who are able to establish themselves in the market and celebrate successes. Our competition doesn’t seek to make money from young designers. Instead, we see it as an investment in future generations of creative talent and thereby in the vitality of the interiors sector. This sets us apart from many other trade fair locations.” Koelnmesse not only covers the shortlisted designers’ travel and accommodation expenses, but it also bears the cost of transporting and presenting the exhibits.
Pure Talents Contest: a snapshot of design students’ imagination
“It’s strong shortlist that we’ve found, with products featuring minimalist but very strong design,” says Gesa Hansen, who was pleased with the balanced mix of male and female designers. Philippe Malouin sees in the competition a manifestation of the fact that the younger generation of designers is working more cooperatively than his own in order to save both costs and resources. Ultimately, the designs are also a reflection of the challenges facing our society, because young designers question the status quo and can develop ideas for tomorrow’s lifestyles during their studies, regardless of production technology conditions.
Sustainable product concepts and flexible products for changing needs
A sustainability theme runs through the submissions to the Pure Talents Contest like a common thread. It would appear that the curriculum of all national and international design schools features product development under resource-efficient conditions that are as climate-neutral as possible. Renewable natural materials or recycled materials have been used particularly frequently in the chosen designs, but high-tech materials feature as well. Everyday products that make behavioral habits, consumption or energy a sensory experience are another theme that is inspiring young designers. The number of concepts looking for alternatives to common electrical appliances or ways of reusing functional components in upcycling projects is also striking.
High rents, increasingly small homes and constantly changing living situations are also notable features of a young designer’s everyday experience. These circumstances have prompted many of them to develop flexible and individual product solutions that can be used for multiple functions, leading to the creation of multi-functional room dividers, lightweight and ingenious fittings and constructions for products and folding furniture that are easy to assemble and disassemble.
According to the judgment of Giulio Cappellini, “Many of the projects that we have chosen are more or less market-ready, because they are distinctly smart and elegant, with the right balance of material use, technology and focus on customer need. These 20 projects give a complete overview of what’s going on in contemporary design right now.”
Pure Talents Contest exhibition in Passage 2/3
The twenty chosen designs will be on show at imm cologne in the renowned Pure Talents Contest exhibition located in the passage between Halls 2 and 3. For the nominated entrants, the presentation of their creations at imm cologne is the ideal platform from which to launch a successful career in design.
Awards presentation: four prizes for the best products from the Pure Talents Contest 2020
Those designers and design teams who have been selected for the shortlist and will therefore take part in the associated exhibition at imm cologne are already winners. They have the opportunity to present themselves to a broad audience in an attractive, high-quality setting and make their first contacts with manufacturers and media representatives. But the three official prizewinners from these top-20 entries will not be chosen until the trade fair. Following an examination of the exhibited prototypes, the jury will make their final selection on the first day of the trade fair and present the victors with their special awards. In addition to this, an Audience Prize will also be awarded for the first time for the Pure Talents Contest 2020, the winner of which will be determined through a people’s vote via the social platform Instagram. The names of those taking home prizes will be announced in an awards ceremony at the event forum “The Stage” (Hall 3.1) at 2 p.m. on Monday, 13 January 2020.
About Koelnmesse – Global Competence in Furniture, Interiors and Design
Koelnmesse is the world’s top trade fair organizer for the areas of furnishing, living and lifestyle. At the trade fair hub of Cologne, the leading international fair imm cologne as well as the trade fair formats of LivingKitchen, ORGATEC, spoga+gafa, interzum and Kind + Jugend rank among the internationally renowned and established industry meeting places. These fairs comprehensively represent the upholstered and case furniture segment, the kitchen industry, the office furniture sector and outdoor living as well as the innovations of the furniture supply industry. Over the last few years, Koelnmesse has specifically added international fairs in the most important fast-expanding markets to its portfolio. These include idd Shanghai, interzum bogotá in Bogotá, interzum guangzhou in Guangzhou and Pueri Expo in Sao Paulo. With ambista, the online portal for the interiors business, Koelnmesse offers direct access to products, contacts, expertise and events relevant to the industry all year round.