Friday, 18 January 2013

Innovative design talent wows at imm Cologne’s [D³] Contest

This week began on a very high note when I attended one of the biggest and most prominent furnishing, lighting and interior design trade shows in the world, imm Cologne. I was invited (along with a bunch of other bloggers) by Holly Becker of Decor8 to attend her keynote at the international bloggers meet-up ‘We Are Social’. Alongside Holly on the panel of social media heavyweights were Steffi Luxat of the blog Ohhh Mhhh, Will Taylor of Bright.Bazaar, Frederik Frede of Freunde von Freunden, Costas Voyatzis of the blog Yatzer, all sharing their personal experiences and success stories to demonstrate how to use social media to build success in the international blogging sphere. I was also delighted to meet the perpetually sunny Igor of the equally sunny Happy Interior Blog, who organised a most delicious welcome lunch for all of us bloggers before the panel. Thank you, Igor!

I went along to Imm with the hopes of killing the proverbial two birds with one stone. After the lunch, panel and some networking, I set out to soak up some of the sights of the fair. With little time on my hands and a lot of ground to cover I headed straight for an area which I was particularly excited about: the [D³] Contest, where fresh new designers showcase their brand new prototypes to the international design world. Camera in one hand and notebook in the other, I interviewed and snapped shots of these promising young talents for my Houzz column. You can read the full article {here}.

Of the talented designers I profiled for my story, there were a few that really stood out for me for their concept, aesthetic and marketability. What you should know is that of more than 600 products submitted to the contest, just 21 prototypes were selected to be presented by their designers at imm. Three of these innovative products won the prestigious Interior Innovation Award. One of them was the clever Lucien Gumy, who showcased his L´Étagère en Bois, a shelving unit that can be assembled without a single screw, bolt or a smidgen of glue. Clever right?

“I played with horizontal and vertical assembly methods until I achieved a method that requires no screws or glue, and can be dismantled," says Gumy. "I took this process and repeated it at all the intersections.” The size of the unit can be adjusted by mixing elements of different lengths.

For me, the most marketable product I saw in this section was ‘Pilu’ a floor and desk lamp design by Leonie Werle that is based on aesthetic simplicity and beauty. Werle's design stemmed from her own search for an adjustable desk lamp without visible wires and joints. "I wanted to create a lamp that was adjustable, but a practical and attractive lamp that will provide an indirect light source," she explained to me. I secretly wanted to pop the little yellow desk lamp in my handbag on the day. I love the clean lines and fuss-free look of Pilu, as well as the solid oak base, and hope that it finds it’s way into stores before too long.

I also really liked the concept behind the ‘Invader’ a stackable modular storage unit designed by Maria Bruun. The beauty of this product lies in its flexibility to grow with it’s owner’s individual needs, as well as it’s clean-lined aesthetic.

Bruun wanted to delve into what exactly constitutes the notion of ‘home’ for people when developing the Invader. “‘Home’ is made up of the things that people own: their pictures, books and souvenirs,” she says. “I discovered that through these collected items, people tell stories about their past, their present and their dreams for the future.” Upon this realisation, she designed this robot-esque structure that acts not only as a storage unit but a creative display unit at the same time. Cool!

I am big on chairs, and when I saw the prototype of the ‘Beams Chair’ by Taiwanese design duo Eric Chang and Johnny Hu, I really felt the design is marketable and smart. The inspiration of their simplistic design is owing to the H-beam structure of San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and weighs a mere 3 kilograms despite the use of two types of wood, multiplex and plywood. I love the matching table in this collection too and do hope to see it for sale one day. 

The final prototype I found pretty damn interesting was ‘Dear Disaster’, by Jenny Ekdahl. It is a storage cabinet, encrusted with scale-like wood chips all over the surface that can move beneath the fingertips. The inspiration for this piece came from a fascination with how humans respond to terrifying situations brought about by nature. She wanted to create a piece of furniture in which we as humans could connect emotionally. “My interpretations of natural disasters are used as a metaphor to describe the importance of emotional and poetic experiences in design for today and for the future,” Ekdahl explains. The design represents two contrasting symbols of nature, earth and water. 

I could go on forever with other amazing prototypes I saw, but these were a few that I would have taken home with me. 

I am curious. Which is your favourite?



  1. Dear Holly, it is a really nice round-up. I really enjoyed reading it -somehow I missed those designers at imm, so it is nice to have an update from you. The lamp is my favorite along with the storage cabinet. I think if I had this cabinet home, I would touch it all the time :)

  2. Agreed with Magda. That lamp is my favorite! x

  3. thanks for share.