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Competition for young designers 2021

18. Pure Talents Contest

Online award ceremony - The imm cologne had to resort to digital forms of presentation and announced the winners during an online press event on 9 February, where the prize winners were announced by imm cologne Director Claire Steinbrück and jury member Sebastian Herkner.

Here are the winners:

1. Prize - Luiza Guidi - Statement Jennifer Reaves

Luiza Guidi

"We were particularly moved by the sensual play with light, both as an object sculpture and as a functional product. The simplicity with which light can be staged in such a sensual way inspired us." Maya Collection von Luiza Guidi

2. Prize - Dirk Vosding – Statement Eva Marguerre

2. Prize - Dirk Vosding – Statement Eva Marguerre

"The design is reminiscent of well-known clamp lamps for the bookcase, but is infinitely more charming - a simple, small, fine product that can stand just as well as a table lamp or as a bookend on the sideboard or bedside table." Elina from Dirk Vosding

3. Prize - Tatu Laakso - Statement Sebastian Herkner

Tatu Laakso

"We were inspired by the beautiful model because of its play with moulded plywood and its language of form, which is sensual and light and shows references to Finnish design. A very confident design for a semester project, the quality of which cannot be taken for granted even for diploma theses."
Olivia Chair from Tatu Laakso

Winner LivingKitchen Selection - Erik Mantz-Hansen – Statement Norbert Ruf

Erik Mantz-Hansen

"Here, the design fits perfectly with LivingKitchen's claim to really live nutrition and cooking. Implemented with a very functional and very tool-oriented design language, the product also looks very robust."
Guerilla Kitchen from Erik Mantz-Hansen

The young designers and their products

Here you can find everything about the nominees and their designs.

Nominees imm cologne

Nominees LivingKitchen Selection

The jury 2021


In October 2020, the top-class jury of the Pure Talents Contest 2021 met in Cologne to review the total of 862 product submissions from 59 nations. This year, the jury includes designer Eva Marguerre (Designstudio Besau-Marguerre) from Hamburg, designer Sebastian Herkner from Offenbach, entrepreneur Norbert Ruf, Creative Director and Managing Director of Thonet GmbH, and Jennifer Reaves, Managing Director of the international design fair blickfang (from left to right).

Eva Marguerre , Designstudio Besau-Marguerre

Studio Besau-Marguerre is an interdisciplinary design studio in the heart of Hamburg that uses a holistic design approach in its work across the fields of product design, visual communication, styling and interior design. Founded in 2011 by Eva Marguerre and Marcel Besau, the studio’s team now comprises interior architects, textile designers, graphic designers and product designers who work together to realise exciting projects ranging from trade fair concepts to larger-scale undertakings like furnishing Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie concert hall. With a keen eye for bold colours, experimental forms and unusual materials, coupled with strong attention to detail, Studio Besau-Marguerre designs unique concepts that, thanks to the team’s multifaceted expertise, allow holistic brand consulting and coordinated concept implementation to originate from a single source. The creative work on each individual project always begins with the product itself, with the interior being taken into consideration in the design from the start and the overall perception of the product being the ultimate objective. Making prototypes by hand is just as much a part of the process as the use of digital design tools.

As recipients of the Interior Innovation Award in 2015, the Karl Schneider Award in 2016, the AIT INsider Award in 2017 and the ICONIC AWARD in 2018, Studio Besau-Marguerre’s client portfolio includes well-known companies such as Vitra, Artek, Thonet, E15 and Fürstenberg.

Eva Maguerre
Jennifer Reaves, CEO blickfang

Jennifer Reaves is a design enthusiast with a gift for networking – in any case, that’s how Marcus Fairs, Editor-in-Chief of the online platform dezeen, describes her. When it comes to the design world, she seems to be everywhere and know everyone. Since turning her passion for good design into her profession, Jennifer has been energetically developing her extraordinary network in the international design scene. Today, 20 years on, she is the CEO of the international design trade fair blickfang and counts industry leaders like Jaime Hayón, Stefan Diez, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Inga Sempé, Philipp Mainzer and Alfredo Häberli as part of her network.

Jennifer pays particular attention to the entrepreneurial side of being a designer. “I believe that it’s not just the creative innovation aspect that matters. Today’s successful designers also need to be business-minded, which includes having skills like knowing how to commercialise their talent, cost a product from production all the way to the price charged to end consumers, analyse the market and much more besides. Only those who are aware of all of these tasks and their importance have a chance of winning the Pure Talents Contest.”

Jennifer Reaves
Norbert Ruf, Creative Director and Co-Director of Thonet GmbH

Born in Augsburg (Germany) in 1968, studied in Dortmund, Hanover and Athens, has worked in Switzerland and Finland, at home in the field of design: today, Norbert Ruf is the Creative Director and on the management board of the world’s oldest furniture manufacturer. At Thonet GmbH, he is responsible for keeping alive the spirit of innovation that has been deeply embedded in the company for 200 years as well as for discovering and helping to develop furniture that is in tune with the latest trends – while at the same time not only preserving Thonet’s legacy but also carrying it forward into the future. It’s hard to find anyone with more knowledge of the industry.

A holder of qualifications in industrial design and business administration, Ruf’s background encompasses sales and product management, research and development as well as company management. And, having held positions at Dedon, de Sede, Avarte Oy and Wilkhahn – not forgetting his work as an independent consultant for international design firms – he has access to an extraordinary network. As a visiting lecturer at various international universities, he regularly shares his sure sense of good design – a skill that he continues to develop as a jury member for a range of design awards, including the Pure Talents Contest 2021.

Norbert Ruf
Sebastian Herkner, Designer, Offenbach

Sebastian Herkner (born 1981) studied Product Design at HfG Offenbach University of Art and Design. During his studies he began to focus on designing objects and furniture, honing his keen sense for materials, colors and textures. For a short while he then worked for Stella McCartney in London. In the year 2006 Sebastian Herkner founded his own studio. Since that time, he has designed furniture, lamps and smaller items for manufacturers such as Ames, and Tradition, Cappellini, ClassiCon, Dedon, Ex.t, Fontana Arte, Gubi, Linteloo, Moroso, Pulpo, Rosenthal, Schramm Werkstätten, Thonet, Wittmann and Zanotta.

Herkner also realizes interior architecture projects and museum and exhibition design. His works have won numerous accolades – among others the IF Award, the Iconic Award and the Elle Deco International Design Award (EDIDA). As Guest of Honor to imm cologne 2016, Sebastian Herkner provided the design for “Das Haus”.

An unconditional love for traditional craftsmanship paired with a good feel for new technologies, a true flair for color, authentic materials and textures, an unadulterated curiosity for different cultures, for embracing and integrating them, and a commitment to taking responsibility for the things and people one works with, not to mention consideration and respect for all of the details and steps necessary to create an extraordinary object...: Since the success of the Bell Table for ClassiCon in 2012, Sebastian Herkner has never looked back, while remaining true to his word – and himself. Balance and intuition are important and enduring factors in his work, which he sees as a continuous dialogue that straddles the disciplines: It takes him to the far corners of the world in search of almost forgotten crafts techniques, of manufactories that have a tradition going back centuries, to the crafts Sleeping Beauties that he can awaken from their slumber.

In the process he creates not just chairs, sofas, lamps, tables, vases and carpets, but an entire cosmos that shines a new light on how objects can appeal to the senses, and where beauty is cultivated from within the process itself and his empathy towards people.

Text written by Martina Metzner

Sebastian Herkner

© Evelyn Dragan.

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