Designer    Focus 18 Jan 2018

Fantastically fluid furniture designs prevail at IMM Cologne’s Pure Talents Contest

For the 15th time, the three best designs in the Pure Talents Contest have been honoured at the international interiors show in Cologne. A total of 836 products by 671 designers from 53 countries were submitted. The verdict was arrived at by a five-strong jury, composed of Sebastian Herkner, Sophie Lovell, Rianne Makkink, Tobias Lutz and Harry Paul van Ierssel.

The winners of the anniversary edition of the Cologne competition for up-and-coming designers – which were announced on the first trade show day – are Yohay Alush with his outdoor furniture “Nocturnal Beasts” (1st prize); Alissa Arends, Leon Bucher and Yelim Kim with their  collaborative “Fold it” table (2nd prize); and Julien Manaira with his poetic work “The once liquid plastic” (3rd prize).

Perhaps it is a reflection of our evolving design culture, which necessitates versatility and adaptability, but the winning lot seemed to share a theme of fluidity.

Foldable, mobile and easy to stow away, the ‘Fold it’ table is an ideal addition to any small kitchen. The team of students from the Weimar Bauhaus University (Alissa Arends, Leon Bucher and Yelim Kim) created Fold it for use by students. The folding table has now won the second prize at this year’s Pure Talents Contest for young designers at IMM Cologne. Due to the integrated joint and its simple construction the table made of steel pipes and multiplex board can be converted fast and easily, stowed away to save space or carried out into the open air. The table top is simply lifted out to mobilise it.

“Although only in their second year, they have designed something very minimalist and functional that is also linked to the history of Bauhaus. A very smart idea, and you can do it yourself,” said judge Sebastian Herkner. “The table thematises something that runs through the whole of German industry. It is functional, democratic and honest. And it works,” says Sophie Lovell. Rianne Makkink is impressed by the way you can scale the dimensions, and “I love the fact that there are only two functions: fold up and open out.”

‘The once liquid plastic’ by Julien Manaira is a highly poetic work relying on a time-intensive technique. With his project, the French designer who lives in Amsterdam aims to make the production process visible. The shelf is made by pouring epoxy resin onto a mould layer by layer, where the time factor plays an equally important role as the individual pivoting of the casting mould.

The judges commended it highly: “It is very poetic, a delicate application of a technique. It is a work of art and, quite simply, it gives you joy,” said Sophie Lovell. Harry Paul van Ierssel said, “It stands for itself, and I like the way the light plays with it. It is not a perfect piece of furniture, it is not even a proper rectangle, and yet it is perfect nevertheless.” Rianne Makkink added, “I wouldn’t use it for any purpose. The cabinet itself is what’s beautiful.”

Looking back at 15 years of the Pure Talents Contest at the award ceremony hosted at “The Stage”, Koelnmesse’s Chief Operating Officer Katharina C. Hamma said, “Of course, it’s valid to ask whether there is still a place for a format such as this contest in the age of the internet and fundraising. The answer we get is a resounding ’yes’. The younger generation has the challenge of finding the right opportunity when faced with an infinite choice. The Pure Talents Contest is a genuine opportunity.”

IMM Cologne |