They’re practical, decorative, atmospheric, cleverly designed and implemented on the basis of a sustainable concept: a multifunctional table lamp, decorative coat hangers and a chair developed out of the school furniture context were voted the best entries in this year’s competition for up-and-coming designers by the jury of the Pure Talents Contest 2022 – three works which, in the jury’s opinion, would certainly have deserved a place in the spotlight at the international interiors show imm cologne.
When the jury met in autumn 2021 to nominate the 20 best competition entries, everybody was still firmly expecting the Cologne trade fair event to celebrate a glorious restart in January. The jury emphasised the great significance of this international platform, especially for the young designers who, despite sometimes having to deal with extremely difficult circumstances like college and workshop closures, had nevertheless succeeded in submitting top-quality entries for the Pure Talents Contest, the imm cologne’s renowned competition for promoting young designers.
Trade fair cancellations: design is missing the visibility and sensory experiences of in-person events
All three winners of the Pure Talents Contest 2022 stand out for the feasibility and market potential of their designs, as well as the sustainable concepts they’re based on, found the jury. The accolade would have given them the opportunity to join the winners of the Pure Talents Contest 2021 and present themselves to a first-rate audience of trade professionals in a special exhibition at imm cologne 2022. The fact that the pandemic meant the international interiors fair couldn’t be held this year either was particularly difficult for the young creatives, who are now limited to media platforms again. “Over the last two years, a lot of products have been presented in purely digital form, but could never be experienced physically. And at the end of the day, design is all about sensory experiences,” says jury member Sebastian Herkner of the unfortunate situation.
The expert jury of the Pure Talents Contest 2022
The members of this year’s first-rate jury were designer Marcel Besau (Designstudio Besau-Marguerre) from Hamburg, designer Sebastian Herkner from Offenbach, Norbert Ruf, creative director and managing director of Thonet GmbH, and Jennifer Reaves, CEO of DesignFest GmbH, Stuttgart.
First prize goes to the Helia lamp by Stéfanie Kay: a minimalist lamp with different lighting moods
With her Helia lamp, Stéfanie Kay (F, GB) aims to bring more variable light to the user’s daily routine by combining mood and task lighting in a single product. “An attractive, fuss-free, conical design that the user can convert from ambient light to a spotlight for reading by means of a simple, self-explanatory gesture. A minimalist lamp with different lighting moods,” says Marcel Besau in explanation of the jury’s decision to award Helia first prize. The light source in the slanted, swivelling head either emits a direct beam to one side or shines downwards into the semi-transparent body of the lamp to create a diffuse, scattered light, turning Helia into a sculptural lamp that resembles a cone of light hovering above the table.
Second prize: Pebbles by Rania Elkalla – coat hangers, collectibles or wall art?
Pebbles is a set of decorative hangers for everyday items with a small, concealed storage compartment on the back and sides for little things like keys, lipsticks, jewellery etc. “First and foremost, it was the aesthetic, colourfulness and materiality of the hanger system that we found so compelling. In addition to providing a storage function, the arrangement of multiple elements results in an attractive wall decoration with spontaneous appeal,” says Jennifer Reaves of the design by Egyptian contestant Rania Elkalla. The materiality of the Pebbles played a decisive role in the jury’s decision as well: they consist of egg and nut shell waste. In addition to being sustainable, the material combines an intriguing look and feel with a mineral-like quality that gives the home accessories a unique character.
Third prize: Clap by François Lafortune – public furniture with private storage space
Clap is a robustly constructed stackable chair that can be placed on top of tables while the floor is being cleaned and has a lockable storage compartment under its fold-up seat. French designer François Lafortune created the chair as a study that explores the individual usage of public furniture. “The chair picks up on a furniture typology that’s very familiar from school and teaching contexts and tackles it in a very elegant way – and that goes for both the design and the details,” says Norbert Ruf. A very functional design which, in principle, seems feasible in a lot of different materials, as well as seeming sustainable thanks to its repairability and the fact that the individual elements are easy to separate. Norbert Ruf: “The aesthetic qualities of this design succeed in toning down the school-like character; as a result, the chair is suitable for other contexts like co-working environments or private settings as well.”
“We congratulate all the winners of this year’s Pure Talents Contest,” says imm cologne director Claire Steinbrück. “In times like these, it’s difficult for the creative sector to get publicity for its new and innovative projects. Young talents are struggling to get their careers off to a good start. The nominees and winners of the Pure Talents Contest can be proud of the distinctions they’ve earned, and I hope that the media and industry will give them all the attention they deserve for their incredible creativity.”
For information about the winners and all the designers nominated for the Pure Talents Contest 2022, go to: https://www.imm-cologne.com/events/pure-talents-contest/