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Huge opportunity for young design talent

Pure Talents Contest: insights from the expert jury

Digitalisation and sustainability are influencing many areas of life, particularly the world of design and interiors. The Pure Talents Contest gives ambitious students, graduates and start-ups the opportunity to exhibit their innovative designs. All the action in the 19th edition of the Pure Talents Contest is set to unfold at imm cologne 2022 from 17 to 23 January. A panel of renowned judges has until then to select the best ideas. We decided to find out more: How does the jury go about making their selection? What do they look out for? And what tips do they have for participants?

Pure Talents Contest Jury

: The Pure Talents Contest jury is made up of Eva Marguerre, Sebastian Herkner, Norbert Ruf and Jennifer Reaves (from left to right). This year, Eva Marguerre will be represented by her business partner Marcel Besau (pictured below). (Photo: imm cologne)

The contest is already in full swing. The expert jury’s first task is to shortlist 20 of the most innovative designs from all the submissions. The next step is to select three winners to take home the highly coveted design award. But who is actually on the jury ? This year it is made up of experts from a wide range of design disciplines:

  • Hamburg-based Studio Besau-Marguerre is known for its interdisciplinary and holistic approach to its work in the fields of product design, interior design and brand communication. Eva Marguerre and Marcel Besau founded the studio in 2011. Their flair for striking colours, experimental shapes and unusual materials is a hallmark of their designs.
  • Sebastian Herkner from Offenbach came to wider public attention through the Pure Talents Contest and is now a multi-award-winning designer. Specialising in the design of furnishings, he produces outstanding work in the fields of interior, museum and exhibition design and presented his “ Das Haus " concept at imm cologne in 2016. He is very passionate about traditional craftsmanship and combines this with a keen interest in new technologies.
  • Anyone involved in the furniture industry is surely familiar with Thonet. With Norbert Ruf on the management board as its Creative Director, the company has long been praised for its innovativeness and ability to capture the spirit of the times. This eminently respected expert thus brings a wealth of knowledge about the design scene to the jury.
  • Jennifer Reaves is a networker known for her enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit, especially at an international level. As the CEO of the international design trade fair blickfang , she knows how important it is for a designer to have a business mindset.

What is the idea behind the Pure Talents Contest?

The Pure Talents Contest helps young designers to network with well-known manufacturers from the furniture and interior design sector. The excellent platform affords tremendous visibility. Entering the competition is certainly worthwhile for budding designers, because the world eagerly anticipates their innovative ideas. So, what is the Pure Talents Contest all about? What are the jury members looking for when choosing the winners?

Marcel Besau: “The Pure Talents Contest is an inspiring platform for young designers to get a step up into the industry, start to build a network and get noticed.”

Norbert Ruf: “Getting started as a young designer is a challenge. That’s where a platform like the Pure Talents Contest helps individuals to gain visibility and showcase their vision and conceptual approach.”

Sebastian Herkner: “The Pure Talents Contest is a fantastic opportunity for young creatives to present their design ideas and philosophies – not only to a jury of professionals as part of the competition but also to the public. This platform was my launchpad into the design scene and gave me the chance to meet exciting people.”

Jennifer Reaves: In addition to the industry-necessary visibility of their own work, participation in the Pure Talent Contest also forces designers to put their work and the benefits behind it into words. Being able to describe your own ideas and its uniqueness in a few words, even without winning the prize, is an important learning for your work as a designer."

Pure Talents Contest_Marcel Besau

Marcel Besau (Photo: imm cologne)

How the jury evaluates all the submissions

The design experts use specific evaluation criteria to select 20 of the best prototypes, which will be exhibited at imm cologne 2022. The criteria include the overall concept, the originality or individuality of the design, and the quality of the concept and vision. Functionality, the quality of design and presentation, and sustainability are also assessed. How does the expert panel sift through and evaluate the entries? And how does it pick the winners from the top 20?

Sebastian Herkner: “It’s always difficult to agree on a shortlist of designs because the submissions are very diverse and the design standard is high. As members of the expert jury, we take a lot of time to make the decisions and discuss every single entry to ultimately choose the best and cover a wide range of designs.”

Marcel Besau: “With their many years of experience in the industry, the jury members bring a lot of expertise to the table. They have different attitudes and perspectives. Often, the most exciting projects quickly jump out at you when you’re sifting through them, and sometimes it takes a second look to pick the best projects. This is where the jury needs to work as a team, to engage in dialogue and discussion as a fruitful basis for their decision-making.”

Norbert Ruf: “We feel a responsibility to do justice to the dedication of the designers and to their projects. The decision is made in intensive and multilateral discussions that take account of different parameters and points of view.”

Jennifer Reaves:

"Against the background of the abundance of submissions, the simple, clearly and quickly recognizable presentation of the design gains in importance. What is it, what is it for or who is it for, and what makes it unique are questions that we jury members want to know the answers to at the first glance. Not every submission already meets these initial criteria. In the later dialogue, the many expertises and also competences of the jury members come together, so that we also learn a lot."

Pure Talents Contest_Sebastian Herkner

Sebastian Herkner (Photo: imm cologne)

How are the decisions influenced by global trends?

What do people need, and what added value can innovative design offer? The design world seeks answers to these questions. The Pure Talents Contest is also very future-orientated. Currently, digitalisation and sustainability are the two primary topics driving global trends. Do these considerations play a role in the jury’s assessments?

Norbert Ruf: “We are facing substantial changes. The next generation of designers has the challenge and opportunity to engage with these issues and to try to find solutions and designs to tackle them.”

Sebastian Herkner: “Social, environmental and economic changes are, of course, always decisive parameters in the selection process. The product must be responsibly designed and have a sustainable vision.”

Marcel Besau: “Outstanding projects always manage to create a coherent whole made up of different levels – for example, function, aesthetics, a response to current events, relevance and sustainability. It’s a case of the jury finding agreement over these points.”

Jennifer Reaves: "I expect the next generation of designers to deal consciously with social developments, trends and challenges. Designing for the sake of pure aesthetics will have a difficult time. In my eyes, designers are first and foremost problem solvers, well packaged in an innovative and coherent form. Which problems the designers devote themselves to, however, is up to them."

(Pure Talents Contest_Jennifer Reaves

Jennifer Reaves (Photo: imm cologne)

The great importance of imm cologne for young talent

Exhibitors at imm cologne present their work to the global interiors market. Renowned manufacturers and opinion leaders roam through the event’s halls in the search of original products. This is where talented young people can not only showcase their unique creativity but also breathe new life directly into the product and interior design scene. So, what role does imm cologne play for the up-and-coming generation?

Sebastian Herkner: “imm cologne is a great opportunity for young designers to learn about the market and trends. They also get to meet and enter into a dialogue with manufacturers, journalists and end consumers. This experience is pivotal – not only for the participants in the Pure Talents Contest but also for young designers who just plan to visit the Interior Business Event.”

Marcel Besau: “Just as it is for all other designers, imm cologne is a meeting place for the industry, where we make new contacts and maintain existing ones. All we can do is motivate newcomers to take advantage of this opportunity as early and as intensively as possible. Alongside your creative work, your network is one of the key factors in establishing yourself as an independent designer. In addition, the latest trends, new products and collections from the manufacturers can be seen in a very condensed form in one place. This is very important when it comes to developing a feel for the market and an awareness of changes in the industry.”

Norbert Ruf: “imm cologne can greatly enhance the interaction between the industry and a new generation of design talent. On the one hand, it’s an open platform that allows people to meet and exchange ideas in an informal and easily accessible way, and on the other hand, it also acts as a talent scout and promoter.”

Jennifer Reaves: "I expect the next generation of designers to deal consciously with social developments, trends and challenges. Designing for the sake of pure aesthetics will have a difficult time. In my eyes, designers are first and foremost problem solvers, well packaged in an innovative and coherent form. Which problems the designers devote themselves to, however, is up to them."

 Pure Talents Contest_Norbert Ruf)

Norbert Ruf (Photo: imm cologne)

Helpful tips for the design competition

Norbert Ruf: “Be brave and seize your chance!”

Marcel Besau: “My top tip is as simple as it is difficult: let go of your fears, leave your comfort zone and try new things. That applies to all aspects of the profession. Sometimes projects seem immensely complex, new and perhaps also scary, but these projects are where you learn the most and explore new horizons.”

Sebastian Herkner: “It’s important to develop your own signature and attitude – one that’s personal but also takes a responsible approach to the design and production process. It’s vital that you take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Pure Talents Contest and the media coverage of the competition at the start of your career.”

Jennifer Reaves adds: “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.”

Pure Talents Contest: apply and make your breakthrough

The Pure Talents Contest offers a great platform for new designers, because this is where the interior design industry’s top experts gather. Manufacturers and opinion leaders all eagerly anticipate an exciting, creative selection of forward-looking furniture and interiors objects. One or two collaborations are also sure to begin at the event. Talented young designers have the fantastic opportunity to submit their entries until 15 September 2021 . Participation in the competition is free of charge.