Our first stop during Cologne's design week is Passagen, a collection of 190 exhibitions scattered throughout the north part of the city. Off the beaten path for people who are more used to strolling through more established hubs and brands, the chilly walk lead us to some unusual venues and reused spaces. Our favorite exhibition was held in an empty, glass-fronted shop space in the brutalist concrete underground station of Ebertplatz. LABOR: Design n+1 by Köln International School of Design showed some experimental objects and lighting, exploring the boundaries of art, design and research.
Klanglichter, above, is a laser harp that combines gamification and music-making. The Arduino-based audiovisual interactive installation was designed by Onat Hekimogulu and Tobias Kreter. Fueled by the will to hit targets on a projection on the wall, visitors play the laser harp to create new compositions.
Binary Talk by Niklas Isselburg and Jakob Kilian transforms the ASCII data of a word into binary code, which is then translated into a smoke signal sent off through the air by a subwoofer. We loved this experimental approach to uncover hidden processes of modern communication. The project combines advanced technology and one of the oldest forms of long distance transmission, the smoke signal. Light sensors in the recipient module detect the binary smoke puffs, which are translated back into ASCII code on a second computer. Mistakes in interpretation caused by a breeze in the room remind us of the telephone game, and the accuracy we have come to expect in modern means of communication.
Libelle by Christian Kueller and Christian Zander is a dynamic lighting robot rather than a lamp. Intended for the modern, constantly changing workplace, it borrows its name from the German word for dragonfly and a reference to their independently movable wings. Four motorized elements connected by 5 axes can adjust to various positions to provide different forms of lighting for different situations.
Buoy is a lamp designed by Frederik Scholz while he was studying abroad in Israel. Inspired by the numerous sand bags found in building sites and military barricades in Jerusalem. He reused the characteristics of the simple soft structure for both stability and positioning when designing the floor lamp. Two nylon strings, attached to the sand bag and running through holes in the wooden pole, hold the lamp in the desired angle through kinetic friction. Buoy has been nominated for the German Design Award and was a Notable for the Furniture and Lighting category of the Core77 Design Awards.