How can the growing number of technical devices be integrated harmoniously into our living environments in future? Can innovative materials and their sustainable use inspire product developments? Three newcomers have put forward creative solutions and have received the ein&zwanzig award from the German Design Council for their projects.

On 20 April 2020, the German Design Council announced which of the 21 newcomers received the highest “Best of Best” distinction.


Furniture and music combined

Designer Valeria Lambrecht has reinterpreted the electric piano with her “PIU” design. “The outward appearance of a conventional electric piano is too similar to a classic piano, despite their different characteristics,” explains Lambrecht. This led the designer to think about giving the electric piano its own design vocabulary. “There is also a trend developing that sees people wanting to bring harmony to their living environments. In the digital age in particular, technological devices are kept as minimalist as possible in order to create a pleasant overall atmosphere in a space,” she explains.

The innovation behind the “PIU” design lies in the development of both a new aesthetic for musical instruments and a new type of furniture. When closed, the “PIU” is a minimalist piece of furniture that blends into a modern interior. The oak lamellae hide an electric piano and a sound system that can be connected to any mobile device. Fine adjustments and other functions can be controlled via an app.

Valeria Lambrecht secured a place on the “Newcomer” shortlist for the ein&zwanzig Awards with the success of her design on the German Design Graduates platform.

There is a trend developing that sees people wanting to bring harmony to their living environments.

Valeria Lambrecht

Niklas Böll: “Holz und Wasser” (“Wood and Water”)

Let nature take its course: fascinating wood and water

Niklas Böll’s work „Holz und Wasser“ (“Wood and Water”) created at Berlin University of the Arts, looks at how wood behaves when given the space to move naturally and how this material is used and processed in industry and crafts. As part of his work, Böll investigates the natural properties and specific characteristics of the wood, which reacts quite differently to its environment by swelling, shrinking and warping.

The series of solid-wood objects shows how these reactions change the shape and surface of the objects. “I am fascinated by wood and its origin in the forest,” says Böll. “Wood is unique in its properties and as an aesthetic material.”

Wood is unique in its properties and as an aesthetic material.

Niklas Böll

Jie Luo: “a shelf made of ceramic”

Challenge identified – solution found

Jie Luo from China experiments with ceramic in furniture design. His master’s thesis „a shelf made of ceramic“ is a theoretical study of the extent to which ceramic is currently used in architecture and as a decorative surface. As a very brittle and heavy material, ceramic is predominantly used to produce small objects, but is rarely found in furniture design.

Jie Luo notes: “The forms are not easy to control and so there are constraints that prevent ceramic being seen as a material for furniture.” For his shelving system, he combines ceramic with wood and takes inspiration from brick construction systems. The result is a modular interlocking system manufactured with water jet cutting technology, in which wood connects the ceramic parts, stabilises them and acts as a buffer between them.

The forms are not easy to control.

Jie Luo
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