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
A glance at the publication by Christian von Reventlow and Philipp Thesen

Artificial intelligence, digitalisation, design. Design Talks 2019

Digitalisation and artificial intelligence are generating new business models, products and services, and are changing the way we lead our lives. While only buzz words are making the rounds in the media, the new technologies are confronting designers and entrepreneurs directly with the question of how they can use these technologies in a sensible and responsible manner. To advance public dialogue about relevant issues, the German Design Council is continuing its series Design Talks. Moderated by the journalist Martina Metzner, the discussions with various designers and entrepreneurs based in the German state of Hesse offer illuminating insights into the design industry. The new series kicks off on 16 October 2019 with a reading and a discussion with Professor Philipp Thesen on the topic “Humanising Technologies: AI and Design”. This first talk will be based on the latest publication by Philip Thesen and Christian Reventlow, entitled «The Digital Shift. Design’s new role as artificial intelligence transforms into personal intelligence». Further Design Talks are scheduled for November 27 and December 3. The Design Talks are sponsored by the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing. The talks are free of charge, although participants are required to register.


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
Bernhard Vierling, “Essenz-Apparatur Nr. 12.3 – Rezeptur – Transformation”; Nominee of the 7th International Marianne Brandt Contest, photo: Bernhard Vierling

I am all glass. Exhibition on Marianne Brandt and the art glass of today

A hundred years after the Bauhaus was founded in Weimar, the exhibition I am all glass ), on display in the Saxon Industrial Museum in Chemnitz, is dedicated to the functional and design possibilities of glass as a material. To this day glass is used in many everyday products, including eyeglasses, windows, fibre optic cables and monitors, as well as lenses in microscopes, telescopes and cameras. Glass has shaped the visionary beginnings of the Bauhaus like no other material. From 28 September to 1 December, 60 works selected by an international jury as part of the 7th International Marianne Brandt Contest will be presented in juxtaposition with works by the Chemnitz designer and Bauhaus artist, Marianne Brandt, displayed in a historical cabinet. In 1926 Brandt was appointed deputy director of the Bauhaus metal workshop, which she managed as acting director after the departure of Moholy-Nagy from 1 April 1928 until the appointment of Alfred Arndt in 1929. Besides Gunta Stölzl, head of the weaving workshop, she was the only woman to hold a position of responsibility at the Bauhaus.


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.


26. September 2019
Studio65, „Marilyn” (Bocca), 1970, Gufram, © Vitra Design Museum, photo: Jürgen Hans

Surrealism and design. An exhibition in Weil am Rhein

Surrealism is generally considered to be one of the most influential art movements of the 20th century. The works of surrealists such as Salvador Dalí, René Magritte, Meret Oppenheim, or Man Ray also contain numerous references to design objects. From furniture and interiors to fashion and films and even graphic design, these surrealist references have been influencing design since the 1930s. The relationship between surrealism and design was last presented in a major exhibition in the London Victoria & Albert Museum twelve years ago. Now the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein is engaging with the subject through its exhibition Objects of desire. Surrealism and Design 1924 – today, open from 28 September 2019 to 19 January 2020. To highlight the parallels and influences, the works of surrealist artists are juxtaposed with design objects from the past 100 years by Achille Castiglioni, Carlo Mollino, Isamu Noguchi, Front Design, Friedrich Kiesler, Ettore Sottsass and Jerszy Seymour, among others.


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.


29. August 2019
Alexander Girard in his studio in the early 1950s, photographed by Charles Eames, Photo: Vitra

People in Design: A posthumous homage to Alexander Girard

Together with his friends George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, American architect, interior designer, corporate designer and designer of furniture, textiles, wallpaper and exhibitions (1907–1993), is considered one of the most influential design figures in post-war America. Several years ago, renewed interest in Girard’s designs saw his work featured in monographs and exhibitions. Today, the bright colours and sophisticated patterns that characterised his designs continue to enjoy widespread popularity. In spring of this year Girard was posthumously awarded the 2019 AIGA Medal, the highest accolade awarded by AIGA, one of the largest design associations in America, for his interdisciplinary oeuvre. To honour the occasion, the furniture company Herman Miller – where Girard produced roughly 300 textile designs for wallpaper, curtains and upholstery over a period of more than 20 years, starting in 1951 – has published a cinematic homage to Girard, one of the greatest masters of mid-century modern, in its online magazine WHY.


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.


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