Corinna Sy and Sebastian Daeschle from cucula
Every January, the international furniture and interiors show IMM Cologne covers a vast area of exhibition space along the Rhine with more than 1,200 exhibitors showing their work to over 120,000 visitors. While parts of the show can become a little monotonous after looking at the umpteenth copper light shade, faux-vintage table or stylized bathtub, the Pure Talents group in Hall 1 is a collection of exciting ideas by schools and young designers.
This year's outstanding projects represented a broad range of design innovation—explorations of new ways of construction or materiality, applying design processes for social change, or reinterpreting the user experience of neglected everyday objects—work that reached beyond the idea of furniture as detached glossy object.
A beautiful design-led approach to help refugees help themselves comes from cucula, above, in Berlin. Corinna Sy and Sebastian Daeschle have launched this pilot project together with five young refugees from West Africa. Having survived the dangerous journey from their home countries, refugees arriving in Germany without residence or work permits are often forced into passivity. Cucula aims to build the foundation for self-determined living. Rather than a process to be 'administered,' it is an association, a workshop and an educational program all rolled into one. The refugees all become part of a group, all learn German, and all learn to build furniture;mdash;not only for themselves but also to sell and in turn, finance the program.
They are currently building the 'DIY' furniture program 'Autoprogettazione' by Enzo Mari, who has granted cucula the design rights. The furniture also works as a memorial to the origin of the project, telling the stories of the refugees by partly reusing materials from the boats they came to Europe on. Cucula has just finished one of the biggest crowdfunding drives to ever take place on the German platform startnext, raising a whopping 123,000 Euros.
Our favorite school exhibition this year also came from the German capital. Universitaet der Kuenste Berlin (UDK) presented 15 final projects from the product design faculty.
Fynn Freyschmidt has developed a 'pneumatic knit' for his material project On Air. When inflated, the loops compress and cause the structure to harden. Chapeau, above, shows a possible application of the material for bike helmets. When not in use, the helmet can be deflated for easy transportation.
The three-legged Stool V by Hon-Tan Trieu has oak legs and a laser-sintered polyamide seat. The seemingly grown organic cells have been calculated according to the Voronoi algorithm, providing strength in areas with a higher load, and reducing the weight to a minimum.
What looks like an artful wall piece when folded flat is Friederike Delius's take on the much unloved clothing rack. Foldwork is made from brass and inspired by timber frame constructions.
Electrify by Esther Haering investigates the future workplace without cables. It combines an induction desk that charges your devices no matter where you place them on the desktop, and a set of lamps. Taking advantage of being wireless, the geometry of the conical lamp case above doubles up as the interface for dimming the light.