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Fabric furniture hacking and a suggested privacy: Pure Talents Contest 2018

Photo: Denys

In the Pure Talents Contest, students and graduates who have recently completed their education, can apply with designs and prototypes that are not yet in production from different fields of interior design and smart home. Just like Anton Hendrik Denys with his Foam Fence and Anne Schmiederer with her Blue Ruffle Chair did. And now we will see them with their products at imm cologne.

The number of submissions was higher than ever – but the standard has remained consistently high, as Sebastian Herkner stresses. Especially “the strong entries from Asia and particularly Japan will enrich the exhibition at imm cologne”, states the designer, welcoming the competition’s high level of internationality. Jury member and Berlin-based design journalist Sophie Lovell also finds this remarkable: “We are seeing a very broad international spectrum of entries, styles and working methods. It has become very interesting and less limited to a European design style”, says the native Londoner. During imm cologne, three winners will be chosen from the twenty nominated entries. The decision of the jury members will be announced at an awards ceremony on “The Stage” (Hall 3.1) at 2 p.m. on the first day of the trade fair, 15 January 2018.

Fabric furniture hacking: The Blue Ruffle Chair by Anne Schmiederer

The “Blue Ruffle Chair” reinterprets the concept of a chair cover. This chair cover turns an ordinary stool (“FROSTA” from IKEA) into a particular rarity. By using traditional pleating techniques, the project also concerns itself with the interior space and shows how this sophisticated look can find a use as a household accessory.

Pure Talent’s Voice with Anne Schmiederer

Why did you become a designer?
The process of realising a creative idea has always fascinated me. I love to lose myself in design.

Do you still need a pencil as a designer today?
Every designer undoubtedly has his or her favourite medium. The design process often involves making small sketches or scribbles. I like to do this by hand with a pencil – that way, I feel more immersed in the project.

Does design bring happiness?
Interesting design definitely makes me happy. In the development process, my designs make me happy, excited and sometimes a little crazy too. For me, design is very intense.

What do you find satisfying or unsatisfying about design work?
It is satisfying when a good product is developed after a long design phase. Naturally, you feel really proud when that happens. If the product then also excites other people, that’s even better. Design is unsatisfying when an idea doesn’t work out or doesn’t achieve the design language you’re aiming for.

Is there a design world beyond serial production? And if so, how important is it for you?
Since my products currently span the narrow boundary between design and art, the world of design far removed from series production is important to me. I like the idea that this means my product appeals to people on an unusual, personal level.

What kind of product needs to be invented urgently?
A device you could use to slow or stop time would be a good invention. It would allow us to live in the moment more.

What does appearing at imm cologne mean to you?
Appearing at imm cologne is a great honour for me. I am pleased to be able to present my product on such a platform and I hope to enjoy fascinating insights.

A suggestion of privacy: The Foam Fence by Anton Hendrik Denys


Sometimes the suggestion of privacy is enough. This is what Anton Hendrik Denys explores in Foam Fences. By combining open and closed structures, this series of screens help define an interior without blocking any light or diminishing the sense of space. Thick foam strips overlap each other, creating patterns with a sense of depth. Covering the foam is a coating with a hard, almost metallic look that contrasts with the softness of the frame. The user is invited to come closer and investigate this visual contradiction, triggering him to interact with the scene on the other side.

Pure Talent’s Voice with Anton Hendrik Denys

Why did you become a designer?
Even as a kid, I knew I wanted to do something creative growing up. I fantasised a long time about becoming a writer, or being a fashion designer. Ultimately becoming an architect made the most sense. So I started architecture school right after high school. Only to realize after a while that I didn’t want to be boxed-in in a certain field or profession. I made the switch to design because I’m convinced it allows you to be creative in the broadest sense of the word. If you want to be involved in fashion you can, if you want to collaborate on an architecture project, that’s also possible. The endless possibilities and freedom to reinvent yourself whenever you want is what I love most about being a designer.

Do you still need a pencil as a designer today? Or do you work digitally?
I hardly ever use a pencil. Even to a degree where I’m almost ashamed of it. In the first design phase of a new project I usually work very digitally, only to return to a more hands-on approach the further the project evolves.

Do you have a role model?
So many … One person that never stops to intrigue me, is Belgian Fashion designer Dries van Noten. Also Maarten van Severen, and especially how he tackled many different fields of design, has always been a big inspiration. Today I’m also still very much a fan of everything his children create. And last but not least, I think Ettore Sottsass is also a perfect example of someone that perfectly blended the boundaries between design and architecture.

What do you find satisfactory and / or unsatisfactory in design work?
There’s an extreme satisfaction that comes from seeing a new project come to life for the very first time. Contrary to that, the very unsatisfactory part of working in the design field, is the fact that so many concepts never see the light of day.

Is there a design world beyond serial production? And if so, how important is it for you?
I very much prefer to work on limited editions only to be honest. I like the idea that only one person in the world is able to have that specific piece of design. Even if I recreate an object, I like to give it a certain twist so that two objects will never be completely the same… The way I work also plays a big part in this, because most of the time I can not even fully control my production process, even I wanted to… Mistakes are inevitable and make it almost impossible to create two exactly similar pieces. But I find such beauty in that.

What does the imm cologne trade show mean to you?
For me it’s a great opportunity to showcase a different side of myself and my work. Until now, I have only been exposing in art galleries or non commercial exhibitions. So people might see me more as an artist than a (product or furniture) designer.
Imm Cologne gives me the platform to prove that I don’t need to restrict myself to a certain niche. And that is something I very much appreciate.