Defne Koz about the trends of tomorrow: “I want my future back!”

Whether it’s a vase, glass collection, ceramic tile, luminaire, car tyre, sofa or wash basin – her creations are quite simply beautiful – and sensuous. And she has the looks to match. In the course of the interview, however, multi-award winning product and interior designer Defne Koz turns out to be not just charming and sensitive but tough and uncompromising as well – especially when it comes to quality issues in design. She thinks today’s design scene is lacking in diligent research, serious design, passion and courageous visions for the future. Following her participation in this year’s Trendboard Workshop for the imm cologne, she joined us in a café on the banks of the Rhine for an extensive interview about trends and the future of interior design, the power of design traditions and the hierarchy of visions.

The design philosophy of the Turkish-born product designer who currently lives in the USA was shaped by none other than Ettore Sottsass – it was in his studio that she completed her training. With branch studios in Milan, Istanbul and her new home town of Chicago, she is making her quiet but enduring mark on a wide range of sectors, from jewellery design all the way to architectural projects. She designs furniture for Mobileffe, Liv’it and MPD, luminaires for Foscarini and Leucos, decorative objects, household goods and accessories for Alessi, Egizia, Aski, Cappellini, Guzzini, WMF or Authentics, impressive tile collections for VitrA and bathroom items for Rapsel-Nito and Merato.

Designer’s Voice: Harald Gründl about design trends, a fast pace and greenwashing

Harald Gründl (EOOS)
Harald Gründl (EOOS), member of the imm cologne Trendboard. (Foto: Koelnmesse)

Born in 1967 in Vienna, Austria, Harald Gründl studied industrial design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and holds a PhD in philosophy. In 1995 he set up the design agency EOOS together with Martin Bergmann and Gernot Bohmann. EOOS has become a leading studio for furniture design, brand spaces and design research with clients including Alessi, Armani, Bulthaup, Dedon, Duravit, Matteo Grassi, Walter Knoll and Zumtobel.

Harald Gründl, member of the imm cologne Trendboard, has chaired the Institute of Design Research Vienna since 2008 and is a partner at EOOS design, where he heads the studio‘s research activities.

What was the most interesting thing about the imm cologne Trendboard Workshop for you?
I found it very interesting to see that there are a lot of similarities in the way the various members of the Trendboard perceive the design sector, and that we’d all noticed similar phenomena. Meeting new people is always the most interesting thing!

The Trend Book shows what’s happening in design right now and what motivates the people who make use of this design offering. In your opinion, where are the strongest influences on product and interior design coming from?
As far as I’m concerned, the sustainability debate is the most important influence on design right now. How can we react to this development intelligently, and how does that affect the trends of the future? We discussed this aspect in relation to all four Interior Trends and were able to identify the different ways it’s manifesting itself.

Designer’s Voice: Patricia Urquiola about innovation, sustainability and interior design trends

Patricia Urquiola, member of the imm cologne Trendboard. (photo: Koelnmesse)
Patricia Urquiola, member of the imm cologne Trend Board. (photo: Koelnmesse)

Patricia Urquiola is a member of the imm cologne Trend Board and was born in Oviedo, Spain and now lives and works in Milan. She attended the faculty of architecture at Madrid Polytechnic and Milan Polytechnic, from which she graduated in 1989 having completed her thesis with Achille Castiglioni.

In 2001 she opened her own studio, working on product design, architecture, installations and concept creation. In 2006 Koelnmesse invited Patricia Urquiola to build one of the ideal houses for imm cologne. Urquiola‘s clients include, among others, Agape, Alessi, Artelano, Axor, B&B Italia, Bisazza, BMW, Bosa, De Padova, Driade, Salvatore Ferragamo, Flos, Foscarini, Kartell, Kvadrat, MDF Italia, Molteni, Moroso and Panasonic.

During the imm cologne’s Trendboard workshop, you didn’t just name four of the most influential tendencies in interior design right now, you discussed other trends in the design scene as well. How much of it do you think is really important?
I think there is a new trend regarding the idea of what is innovative. Innovation was always primarily connected with the idea of industrial progress, i.e. with a more traditional idea. More and more, however, the term innovation is coming to be associated with values like sustainability and with what people really see as innovative – for instance if something is surprisingly intelligent or opens up new usage possibilities. People are paying more attention to how something is done and why it is done. More importance is being attached to the concept.

Designer’s Voice: Martin Leuthold about fashion, trends and the imm cologne

Martin Leuthold, member of the imm cologne Trend Board. (photo: Koelnmesse)
Martin Leuthold, member of the imm cologne Trend Board. (photo: Koelnmesse)

Martin Leuthold was born in 1952 in Hegi-Winden, Switzerland. He completed an apprenticeship as an embroidery designer in his youth. Since 1973, he has been employed as a textile designer at Jakob Schlaepfer in St. Gallen (Switzerland), a company that makes innovative textiles for the fashion industry and interior decoration.

Martin Leuthold has held a management role at Jakob Schlaepfer since 1989 and, as Art Director, heads the creative division. In this function, he was and is involved in projects including the development of numerous new textile design processes and the laser and inkjet processes for printing on textiles.

What was the most interesting about the imm cologne Trendboard Workshop for you?
The various presentations by the different personalities who got together for the workshop were very interesting in themselves. And it was very rewarding to hear the various opinions and interpretations of the new trends. Another important aspect of this meeting was that we all want to safeguard our future.

Designer’s Voice: Defne Koz about trends, quality, design and new ideas

Defne Koz. (photo: Koelnmesse)
Defne Koz, member of the imm cologne 2011 trendboard. (photo: Koelnmesse)

What was the most interesting thing about the imm cologne Trendboard Workshop for you?
It’s always interesting – and important – to reflect on what we do and share our ideas about design. I like the fact that the Trendboard initiative is able to structure our collective thoughts into something that could be useful and helpful to other designers.

The Trend Book shows what’s happening in design right now and what motivates the people who make use of this design offering. In your opinion, where are the strongest influences on product and interior design coming from?
For a designer, there are always multiple influences. Personally I’m curious about art and architecture, but I always centre my inspiration around understanding people, how they live, how their behaviour is changing. That’s the root of new aesthetics.

imm cologne launches successful offensive with Pure Village

To go by the name, it should have been a quiet, idyllic little place amidst the hustle and bustle of the fair – but it wasn’t. There was simply too much going on. Instead, Pure Village was more like a dimly lit piazza in the evening, when travellers from all over the world throng the streets to enjoy a little inspiring window shopping or linger over an espresso on the steps in the middle of the square. And yet it wasn’t so much the visitors that were unfamiliar as the surroundings, which countered the conventional fair architecture of light-flooded, hermetically sealed stands strung along perfectly straight aisles with their own very individual, intimate brand of aesthetics and an open structure.

For many visitors, the presentation format and wide range of different categories was totally unaccustomed: Pure Village was intended to be disconcerting and change the way we see things. And the concept did just that. The effect that koelnmesse and exhibition designer Dick Spierenburg had hoped for turned out to be a positive surprise for exhibitors and the public alike. By focusing on just a few highlights in an exclusive setting, the show managed to present a concentration of sometimes fascinating interior design ideas with a density reminiscent of an art gallery. In addition, the absence of the usual pigeonholes shone the spotlight on the creative quality of the exhibits as the decisive connecting link. And the way products were staged in the context of vastly different interior design solutions gave people plenty to talk about beyond the scope of the usual trade fair routine, allowing exhibitors to make totally new contacts with interesting target groups.

Pure Village – A Community for Design

Construction work in major cities is by no means unusual. Roads are repaired, squares remodelled and new apartment blocks erected. It’s no different in Cologne. But even though the cathedral city isn’t exactly lacking in curiosities, building an entire village in its midst certainly qualifies as a special event.

And yet the construction noise doesn’t bother a single resident; nor does the traffic have to be diverted. Because Pure Village, the township that will be built here in just a few weeks, will be constructed in the middle of Cologne Exhibition Centre, beneath the roof of Hall 3. Which explains why no doors will be hung and the big windows will remain unglazed – nobody is planning to move in permanently. On the other hand, there’s no need for visitors to this idyllic spot to do without a street café, ample entertainment, the services of a “doctor” or childcare facilities. Pure Village is the artificial but far from virtual venue where the design-savvy world will be gathering from 19th to 24th January 2010.

Johanna Grawunder: architect, interior designer, member of the imm cologne trendboard

Johanna Grawunder, member of the imm cologne trendboard, photo: Koelnmesse; Lutz Sternstein

Johanna Grawunder isn’t easy to pin down. She builds houses, designs interiors and creates classic industrial products for clients like Boffi, Flos, B&B or WMF. But above all, she creates exclusive furniture and lighting for galleries in Europe and the USA, often integrating LEDs and seemingly dematerialising the forms.

For her, light is an important medium for designing the interior as part of the whole. Nor does lighting always have to be a stand-alone item, believes Johanna Grawunder. Integrated into furniture, it’s simply there – and takes on a whole new quality.

The architect from California began her career in Ettore Sottsass’ Milan studio in 1985 and was involved with some of his most prestigious architecture and interior design projects.

Facts and figures on the situation of the German furniture industry: Home styling is in – buying furniture too?

Dirk-Uwe Klaas, CEO of the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM)

For Dirk-Uwe Klaas, CEO of the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM) in Bad Honnef, it’s obvious why home styling has finally been discovered as the latest hot topic: “People spend approx. 340 days a year in their own home. That’s why an increasing number of people are coming to see home as a place for self-fulfilment. Nowhere else can you indulge your own tastes as freely as in your own four walls.”

Cars instead of sofas – a lean period for German furniture manufacturers
But even if home styling has become a cult – is it actually still possible to make money with furniture in the face of shrinking private budgets and the massively subsidised bargains available on the automotive market right now? At first glance, the German furniture industry’s half-yearly figures indicate a resounding “no”. With sales of 7.6 billion euros, German furniture manufacturers were an alarming 13.8 percent or 1.2 billion euros down on the previous year’s figure.

However, in view of the unique economic situation right now, any serious answer to the profitability question must take account of figures from earlier years as well. Back in 2008, for instance, the results painted a very different picture: furniture producers ended the year with growth of 1.6 percent. Although there was a slight decline in domestic sales, this was more than offset by export growth of 4.3 percent as compared to the previous year.

The interior trend experts: the Trendboard panel at a glance

Cecilie Manz, Marcus Fairs, Johanna Grawunder, Giulio Ridolfo and Bertjan Pot (f.l.t.r.) Photo: Koelnmesse; Lutz Sternstein

Every summer, five or six renowned designers get together in the tower block of Cologne exhibition centre for an unusual workshop that culminates in a prognosis of the most important developments in interior design: the Trend Book with the interior trends of the coming year. Every year, the Trendboard convened by the imm cologne brings together product designers, architects, material specialists and journalists who are regarded as internationally acknowledged authorities on design and are successful at international level. The Trendboard line-up changes every year and represents several nationalities and disciplines.

This year, materials specialist Giulio Ridolfo and journalist Marcus Fairs ensure the desired continuity. Giulio Ridolfo, a designer and textile consultant from Italy’s creative stronghold Udine, made a name for himself with his unusual works for the likes of Patricia Urquiola.

London author Marcus Fairs’ reputation is founded on his online magazine dezeen. New impulses came from American architect and interior designer Johanna Grawunder, whose work in the field of product design includes exclusive and colourful limited editions, and Cecilie Manz, a young and successful designer from Denmark with an excellent instinct for materials and colours. Dutch designer Bertjan Pot, the third new face on this year’s Trendboard, is also part of the young, successful generation of designers that is currently accelerating the pace of change in the design scene.

As in previous years, the Trendboard was accompanied by Andrej Kupetz, managing director of the Frankfurt-based German Design Council since 1999.