As expected, last weekend’s DMY International Design Festival was very interesting indeed. The organizers had selected a different location this year: DMY 2015 was held in Kraftwerk, an old power station which was originally built in the early 1960s. It was the first time I’d actually visited the Kraftwerk; I knew it only as a location for events, exhibitions and concerts and the building also hosts legendary techno music club Tresor.
We’re talking major industrial charm here, lots of towering concrete, pipes everywhere, slightly gothic and very atmospheric – a bit of a contrast to the soaring spaces of Tempelhof’s airport hangars from last year but still very effective. Made for some stunning photos! The festival featured five official sections this year – Showroom (for established designers and brands), Education (for design school and universities), Lab (for up-and-coming young talents), Berliner Zimmer (“Berlin Room”, a special area for Berlin-based designers) and DMY Store, a shopping area for design fans.
And here, in no particular order, are some of the brands and designs that caught my eye.
All of the exhibitors in the Lab area were winners of the New Talents Competition organised by DMY together with the Ikea Foundation (yes, Ikea as in the blue-and-yellow Swedish furniture retailer). Amongst my Lab favourites was German designer Valerian Blos with Synthetic Bio Design – a milk container packaging based on synthetically cultivated human skin cells. When the milk starts to go bad – the milk reacts with ph value (basic/acidic) of the skin cells – the packaging also decays. Slightly gross but rather absorbing (no pun intended). Next to the disintegrating packaging were designer Jule Waibel’s Cones Unfolded Seats – felt seating cushions (third pic below). Much easier to look at. I’m not the biggest fan of felt, personally, but I liked her felt pouffes.
Another exhibitor in the Lab area was Jon McTaggart with Local Artifacts. McTaggart combines digital manufacturing with raw materials in a rather unusual way: with the help of an industrial robot he injects glue – or resin, rather – into containers of sand. The resin is sprayed in pre-programmed circular patterns and the results are archaic-looking bowls and containers that are beautiful to see and touch. Since every load of sand has a different composition, color, grain texture and so on, each bowl looks different too. Next to the display table Jon had installed a small robot to demonstrate the production process.
In the showroom section two lamp designers caught my eye: Firelamps is a project by Polish designer Aleksandra Jakuc who – in collaboration with a manufacturer of firefighting equipment – has made stunning lamps from dividers, suction strainers, standpipes, tubes and parts of fire extinguishers. Check out the collection on her website. Or see the middle pic above.
And Steinbuehl is a young Berlin-based lamp art label. Antje Blumenstein and Marcel Bühler work with sheets of clear synthetic material, heat and pressure to create light objects and lamp shades. I particularly liked the lamps in the Transparenz Total series – see pics below.
Another Showroom exhibitor is Swiss designer Andreas Neuland who creates gorgeous objects from other objects. In his designs he uses paper, plastic, metal, plexiglass, stamps – all kinds of materials; upcycling in its purest form. Neuland says that he makes “Dinge, die es noch nicht gibt” (things that do not exist yet) and this is indeed the perfect description for his work. My total, absolute and complete favourite were the lamps made from old books and vintage stamps.
You see the thin, rectangular hardcover books he uses as a stand? These are from a famous book series by German publishing house Inselverlag. The Inselbücherei series was first published in 1912 and the books have a highly recognizable design. Very collectible too, especially the older editions! Neuland also constructs small hanging shelves from these books – in the pictures below you can see some examples. Check out his website for more information.
The DMY International Design Festival also presented the winners of the Green Product Awards 2015. This Award has eleven different categories and is one of the few international competitions in the field of sustainable product design. The winners are showcased at various international design fairs and festivals – like the DMY.
At this year’s Green Product Awards there were 400 submissions from designers based in 21 countries. The winners included a hemp protein powder retailed by superfoods brand Feinstoff, cups and plates made from bamboo by design label 8pandas, MO Cases – suitcases and containers made from vulcanized cellulose fibre – and a beautiful self-rotating globe by Mova International.
Above are three of the winning entries. The seat of the ArtiChair – designed by Spyros Kizis – is made from artichoke seeds and leaves (!) and it really looks very organic and green. The winner in the category Communications was Nouveaux, a new print magazine for vegan fashion and green living – plant-based inks and colours, fairly traded paper and the glue is made without animal-derived ingredients. However, my personal favourite was the Vegrack by Hamburg based company Vakant Design! Vegrack is a, well, vegetable rack that allows you to grow your own herbs, plants and flowers with the help of organic hydroponic nutrients and very decorative LED lights.
One of my favourite Berlin-based beverage brands was also at the DMY. Wostok specializes in unusual lemonades and the bottles havea very distinctive label design – see the socialist-looking lady in the middle pic? That’s the design of Wostok’s very first lemonade, Tannenwald (“fir tree forest” – a great taste combining fir tree oil, eucalyptus and a hint of cardamom) which was launched six years ago.
Today the brand has six lemonade varieties: Tannenwald, Date & Pomegranate, Estragon & Ginger, Organic Rosemary & Pear, Organic Peach & Almond and Organic Plum & Cardamom. The non-organic lemonades are decorated with the lady, the organic varieties carry a picture of her male equivalent: a young man wearing a flat cap (check out the brand’s website!).