News – Archive

8. October 2019
“One Plastic, one Product” © K-online

K 2019. The Düsseldorf trade show for plastics and rubber

‘K’, the world’s largest trade show for the plastics and rubber industries, takes place every three years in Düsseldorf. And this year the time has come again – K 2019 will be on from October 16–20. Initial press releases indicate that the global discussions about excessive plastic waste in the oceans pose a major challenge to the exhibitors to present their products – and particularly the latest innovations – in such a way as to convince users and consumers that in the future they will be able to deal with  this material in a sustainable and ethically acceptable manner. Plastics and rubber are of primary importance to designers, as they can be processed using a number of different methods and thus offer a wide range of design options. For several years now, K has also been focusing on designers as customers. This year the trade show is offering a microsite dedicated to industrial design entitled Materials and Design. It is managed by Chris Lefteri, who will be supplying articles and interviews. Lefteri was one of the first authors and speakers to establish “material and design” as a theme in the design industry. At K 2019 he will be offering curated tours for interested visitors.


8. October 2019
Consuments around the globe love products from Germany © YouGov

Made in Germany – a cachet valued by customers around the globe

As shown by a current study conducted by Cambridge University in conjunction with the international data and analytics group YouGov, the label “Made in Germany” still engenders a positive product image. As part of the international initiative YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Projects a representative sample of people from 23 countries were asked how they perceived products that were made in a particular country. A total of 12 manufacturing countries were included. In the overall comparison, products from Germany took first place in the consumer rankings worldwide. On average, half of all those surveyed had a positive impression, and only 6 percent a negative impression of products from Germany. This resulted in an overall impression of +45 points for products that are “made in Germany”. Goods from Italy took second place, with a net score of +38 points, followed by the United Kingdom and France with +34 points each. Japanese products took fifth place (+33), followed by Canada (+33), the United States (+29) and the Netherlands (+27). China came last in the consumer rankings (-29). Fifteen percent of those surveyed rated “made in China” products positively, but 44 percent had a negative opinion of goods produced in China.


8. October 2019
Stefan Diez © German Design Graduates

German Design Graduates. Exhibition and programme of talks in Berlin

We have already published an interview about the German Design Graduates initiative with one of its instigators, Professor Mark Braun. The programme is set to start on 10 October 2019. The German Design Graduates 2019 exhibition, featuring the best graduation projects from 12 German art academies, opens soon in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin will be on show until November 10. The opening weekend will also feature a programme of Design Talks, which will comment on current topics and issues of relevance for young designers. The line-up of panellists will include Stefan Diez, Alice Rawsthorn, Sascha Peters, Angelika Nollert and Jesko Fezer, among others.


8. October 2019
Alberto Alessi © Media Frontier

Oakley Capital acquires shares in Alessi

In the 1980s and 1990s the Alessi name, the company’s products and its design and business philosophy were regarded as defining for an era in which good design was heralded as a factor for success, and as a foundation for a strong brand. Just one example of this was the “Juicy Salif” lemon squeezer designed for Alessi by Philippe Starck in 1987. Two years ago the Alessi family began looking for financial partners to prepare the ground for the company’s future. At the beginning of this year a report appeared in the business press on the financial problems faced by the Italian family business, which has been in existence for more than 100 years and has become internationally known for exquisite household goods and entrepreneurial vigour under the leadership of Alberto Alessi. Oakley Capital, a British private equity firm, has now acquired shares in Alessi and plans to get the company back on track in the global market. “We are about to enter a new phase in the company’s development,” Alberto Alessi is quoted as saying.


8. October 2019
“The Redemption of Vanity” by Dietmut Strebe © MIT

Even blacker than black

A short while ago we reported on the blackest of black pigment currently available, «Vantablack», which found its first application in the automotive industry on the BMW X6 Coupé. In the meantime, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has made things even blacker: engineers have succeeded in generating a black which is ten times darker than anything that has existed so far, using structures known as «carbon nanotubes». The future has yet to reveal what artists, designers, architects and other users will produce with this material. The first project to be completed is «The Redemption of Vanity» by Dietmut Strebe, the current Artist in Residence at the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology. A spectacular diamond set against a black background is coated with the new black material, rendering it invisible to the human eye.


8. October 2019
Visual of the conference

The intelligence of the future; a conference in Stuttgart

Right since the advent of the very first digital tools and applications, the fact that digitalisation is changing the nature of the designer’s job has been part of the debate on what constitutes the fundamentals of the design profession. The debate, always linked to questions of morality and ethics, begins afresh with the introduction of each new digital «invention». Currently, the potential scope of (AI) is perceived as one of the greatest challenges. Will AI be on a par with human intelligence in the foreseeable future? How many jobs will robots take over? What will the future working environment look like? The Association of German Industrial Designers (Verband Deutscher Industriedesigner – VDID), together with the Design Center Baden-Württemberg, has issued an invitation to an industry conference on the theme “Intelligence of the future – How smart is artificial?” taking place in Stuttgart on 8 November 2019, to discuss the possibilities and responsibilities of designers from the perspective of the ethics of machine design and the future of the human-machine network. Sociologist Armin Nassehi and philosopher Catrin Misselhorn, who conducts research at the interface between computer science, philosophy and robotics, have been engaged as keynote speakers.


8. October 2019
The costume designer Ruth Carter, Still from “Abstract: The Art of Design” © Netflix

The second season of the Netflix documentary Abstract: The Art of Design

Film documentaries exploring questions of design are currently a popular and well-received medium for presenting the diversity of design concepts to a wide audience. Netflix enjoyed great success with its own series which was aired in 2017. Now the second season of Abstract: The Art of Design, has hit the screen, and has already been nominated for an Emmy. Featuring Olafur Eliasson (artist and architect), Neri Oxman (bio-architect), Ruth Carter (costume designer), Cas Holman (toy designer), Ian Spalter (digital product designer) and Jonathan Hoefler (typographer), these six globally influential designers talk about the possibilities of design, its power and its significance for our future.


26. September 2019
Project of the “Passionswege”: Pewter figures by Offizier Kovar and Erli Grünzweil, © Erli Grünzweil, Vienna Design Week

Vienna Design Week

Again this autumn, Austria’s largest design festival will be focussing on current issues that are central to design – and during the 13th  Vienna Design Week from 27 September to 6 October 2019, Vienna will once again become the “City Full of Design”. In this festival, design is conceived of as an elementary part of our everyday lives, and as a multifaceted, profoundly effective tool for society. Exhibitions, product presentations, workshops, participatory projects, talks, and tours throughout the city will provide visitors with startling insights into current approaches from the fields of architecture, graphic design, product and furniture design, industrial design and social design. Particular emphasis will be placed on the relationship between design and business, on promoting experimental approaches, and on the merging of various disciplines. This year’s guest of honour is Finland. As in past years, projects realised in collaboration between designers and Viennese craftsmen will be curated and presented as the “Passionswege”. This year Vienna’s densely populated ninth district, Alsergrund, with its diverse atmosphere and historically significant locations alongside new urban developments, has been selected as the focal point. Yet again, this year’s Vienna Design Week aspires to open up new spaces, take over public space, open doors and rediscover traditional firms.


29. August 2019
Student design of wooden radio masts, Photo: AG Robeller/TUK

5G Cell Towers for Sustainable Cityscapes

Digitalisation is changing much about the world we live in, not least in our immediate surroundings. With the widespread use of digital devices in particular, the demand for access to uninterrupted, high-speed internet services is on the rise. Ultimately, for mobile devices and their users, this demand for connectivity means more cell towers. The now ubiquitous towers, however, are anything but easy on the eyes, and the visual blight they cast on urban and rural areas alike nearly outweighs their usefulness. Now, architecture students from the University of Kaiserslautern have joined with Finland-based company Ecotelligent to tackle this issue. Their answer: 5G cell towersmade from wood, designed to provide sustainability as well as aesthetic value. The collaborative project, involving Finnish company Ecotelligent which specialises in environmentally-friendly telecommunications towers and systems made from wood, will be presented at the IFA in Berlin from 6–11 September. But that’s not all: the city of Kaiserslautern is also planning to launch a pilot project which will make use of the wooden towers in the city. 


29. August 2019
Meret Fischli, OFF (Observation Failure Filter), © Meret Fischli

Design Biennale Zurich 2019

To play is something we can do alone or with others. It promotes motor skills and social skills, and we can learn from it. As Friedrich Schiller put it: “Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays”. The idea of play is rich and multi-layered, and is part and parcel of design. The theme of this year’s Design Biennale Zurich, the second time the event has been held since 2017, is “Let’s Play Design”. From 29 August to 1 September, numerous exhibitions, projects and creative labs focusing on the topic of play and its interpretations will be showcased in Zurich. One of the event’s main exhibitions will be “Swiss Game Design Lounge”, on display at the Museum of Design, Zurich. The exhibition will be accompanied with a pop-up conference on visionary design concepts and playful processes.


23. July 2019
Der Käfer im Museum of Modern Art in New York beim Event Bye Bye Beetle, © Volkswagen AG
The Beetle at Bye Bye, Beetle in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, © Volkswagen AG 

Bye Bye, Beetle: The final edition

It all began 80 years ago: on 22 June 1934, Ferdinand Porsche received a contract from the Reichsverband der Deutschen Automobilindustrie (Reich Association of the German Automobile Industry) to develop a prototype for a fuel-efficient and inexpensive people’s car, as Adolf Hitler had commanded him to do the previous year. At the end of 1938, several  pilot models of the “KdF car” were produced. Following World War II, production resumed, and the KdF car became the VW Beetle – a symbol of the German economic miracle and the mobility of the post-war period. With over 21 million cars sold, the Beetle was the 20th century’s top-selling automobile worldwide. In 1998, the retro-designed “New Beetle” was introduced. This was replaced in 2011 by a model referred to simply as the “Beetle”, which drew much more heavily from the design of the original automobile. Now, production is also coming to an end for this most recent and final edition. To mark the end of the Beetle era, and to celebrate and bid farewell to this design icon, Volkswagen released two limited edition models in the United States and held an event entitled Bye Bye, Beetle at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


23. July 2019
Foto: die arge lola, © ifa
Photos: die arge lola, © ifa

Life and living in transition: an exhibition in Stuttgart

In an increasingly ageing society in which urban spaces are changing and being ethnically reshaped by the digitalisation of all areas of life and a lack of affordable housing, and in an environment which leaves us wondering what opportunities will remain available to us in the future, many questions arise about life and living in the city: How do we sit? How do we slee? How do we eat? Are designer sofas overvalued? Can we find new ideas for our living environments? Are we prepared to question and rethink conventional ways of living and our ideas about morality? The exhibition entsesselt! Wohn- und Lebenswelten in Zeiten gesellschaftlichen Wandels (Unchaired! Life and Living Environments in Times of Societal Transition), as well as a series of supporting events hosted by the ifa in Stuttgart, aim to explore 100 such questions – seeking answers more from the realm of culture than that of design. The exhibition is open at the ifa Gallery in Stuttgart until 8 September 2019.


23. July 2019
Blick in die Rotunde des New Yorker Guggenheim Museums, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Foto: David Heald
A view inside the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum in New York © Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, photo: David Heald 

Frank Lloyd Wright buildings granted UNESCO World Heritage status

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee announced in early July that eight works designed and constructed in the United States by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the first half of the 20th century have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The committee awarded this recognition to Wright because of his unprecedented use of steel and concrete, his blending of interior and exterior and his organic architecture, which have had a strong impact on architecture worldwide.  The works added to the list include »Fallingwater«, constructed in the Allegheny Mountains between 1935 and 1939 for Pittsburgh-based department store owner Edgar J. Kaufmann, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, which first opened in 1959.


23. July 2019
Sharon Gauci, © Good Design Australia
Sharon Gauci, © Good Design Australia

People in design – Award: Sharon Gauci receives Women in Design Award

Amidst the ongoing discussion about the place of women in design, the 2019 Australian Good Design Awards gave out its first ever Women in Design Award, for which there were more than 60 nominations. The award was given to Sharon Gauci. In 2018, Gauci was appointed Executive Director of Industrial Design at General Motors (GM) and now heads a team of 180 creative professionals in North America, Australia, Korea, Brazil and China who are responsible for designing all of the brands produced by one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world. The jury explained that they awarded the accolade to Gauci because of her design accomplishments and, most of all, because of the stance taken by GM in appointing a female designer to such a position in the male-dominated automobile industry.


11. July 2019
Klaus Jürgen Maack © ERCO

People in Design — Obituary: Klaus Jürgen Maack Dies Aged 81

For Klaus Jürgen Maack, becoming managing director of ERCO, the company founded by his stepfather Arnold Reininghaus in 1934, was no easy task – especially at the age of 25. Yet the company Maack took over in 1963 would go on to become the world market leader, not least thanks to his approach based on the attitude “light not lights”. To this day, this has remained Maack’s motto. And it was Maack, too, who in 1974 contacted graphic designer Otl Aicher and asked him to help develop the company’s unmistakable corporate identity. Maack consistently pushed contemporary design in ERCO products, whether they were produced by the company’s own design department or in collaboration with renowned designers and architects. The same was true of the company’s modern architecture, brought to life by international architects under Maack’s leadership. Klaus Jürgen Maack was a popular adjudicator, author and speaker at business and design-related events. In Germany, he was considered an entrepreneur who took a responsible, holistic approach to promoting the development of his company, placing the central focus on design. Maack was honoured many times for his achievements. His accolades included the German Federal Award for Promoting Design (“Bundespreis Förderer des Design”). In 2003 he retired from the company’s operations. On 30 June 2019, Klaus Jürgen Maack passed away at the age of 81 in Lüdenscheid, Germany.


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