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The winner of Pure Talents Contest 2021

Nothing is quite the same this year – and that also goes for imm cologne’s Pure Talents Contest. The Interior Business Event had to be cancelled as a result of the global situation. Keen to provide a stage for young designers to present their work despite the difficult circumstances, we at imm cologne decided to hold the competition virtually. Here we reveal who made it into the top four and explore what’s special about their designs.

Pure Talents Contest 2021

imm cologne’s Pure Talents Contest 2021 – a virtual competition for young designers.

723 designers, 59 nations, 4 winners

imm cologne’s Pure Talents Contest is internationally recognised as a leading competition for young designers. Creative newcomers use this stage to present cutting-edge trends and impulses for the interior design of the future and to gain a foothold in the industry. 723 young designers from 59 countries submitted a total of 862 works to the 18th Pure Talents Contest.

The jury for the Pure Talents Contest 2021

The jury for the Pure Talents Contest 2021 was delighted by the quality of the work submitted by the young designers.

The members of the jury included the Hamburg designer Eva Marguerre, the Offenbach-based designer Sebastian Herkner, Thonet’s creative director Norbert Ruf and blickfang’s managing director Jennifer Reaves. All four were deeply impressed by the submissions. The individual works were of such high quality that it was almost impossible to tell that many of the designers behind them were still studying. Twenty designers made it to the final round, with four of those reaching the winner’s rostrum.

The winning designs: functionality meets innovation

From the mass of product submissions, four applicants came out on top. And their designs make it clear why. A light object made of steel, an ergonomic chair, a bookend that also functions as a lamp, and a mobile kitchen based on a modular concept show that it’s always worth re-examining familiar ideas.

1st place: the Maya Collection by Luiza Guidi

In Buddhism, Maya is the “power by which the universe becomes manifest; the illusion or appearance of the phenomenal world”. The Maya light sculptures also appear to the observer as an illusion. At first glance, the four steel, wall-mounted bars look like an empty picture frame. Only when the installation is opened on one side is its real function revealed – a lamp that switches on and off when opened and closed.

The light adds a new dimension to an otherwise flat wall, making it look more three-dimensional and allowing the owner to play with the design and the surroundings. “We were particularly impressed here by the sensual play with light, and that both as a sculpture and as a functional product. We loved the simplicity with which light can be staged to such sensory effect,” says Jennifer Reaves, explaining the jury’s decision.

With this design, Luiza Guidi also demonstrates the range and versatility of her work. “I create poetic experiences. I approach difficult subjects with a certain lightness, and my designs follow the same direction,” says the Brazilian designer. She often plays with the combination of hard and soft fabrics, natural materials and muted colours.

Discover other designs by Luiza Guidi on her Instagram page.

2nd place: the Elina lamp by Dirk Vosding

2nd place: the Elina lamp by Dirk Vosding

Like his fellow competitors, Dirk Vosding is still in the beginning stages of his career, yet the trained carpenter has produced a design of the highest level. Elina can be used in a variety of ways: as a book end, a reading lamp and a table light. The young designer thereby delivers an unusual example of multifunctionality that is practical and decorative at the same time. “In our hectic digital world, Elina illuminates books as an escape from mindless, anonymous and impulsively posted fake news and rumours,” says Dirk Vosding, explaining his submission. He has previously expressed his fondness for analogue culture in earlier work, creating a seafaring-inspired cupboard in a travel trunk look.

3rd place: the Olivia chair by Tatu Laasko

3rd place: the Olivia chair by Tatu Laasko

Tatu Laasko developed a clear design language of his own at a young age and has already made a name for himself in the design and furnishing world. The Finn is currently completing his master’s studies at the Aalto University of Art and Design in Helsinki, and is working with a number of well-known companies in the industry alongside his studies. Simple silhouettes, clear lines, organic shapes and the use of natural materials are characteristic features of his style – to which he remains true in this competition project.

Olivia impresses with its functionality and form, which are showcased in a lean structure and elegant design. “What got us excited about this beautiful piece was the way it plays with moulded plywood, and its design

vocabulary, which is sensual and light, and references Finnish design,” explains the jury. Tatu Laasko describes his design as an exploration of the balance between lightness, sturdiness and ergonomics. The concave shapes result in a very light yet robust structure that does not compromise the real function of the stool in any way. Through such details, he always gives his straight-line design language that certain something special.

Discover other designs by Tatu Laasko on his Instagram page.

1st place Living Kitchen Selection: Guerilla Kitchen by Erik Mantz-Hansen

1st place Living Kitchen Selection: Guerilla Kitchen by Erik Mantz-Hansen

Street food has become quite a trend in recent years. Everybody is familiar with it, (almost) everybody loves it. Erik Mantz-Hansen has taken this trend and created a kitchen that makes it even easier to prepare and sell street food. The Guerilla Kitchen was developed to give more people the chance to venture into the snack food business by lowering the financial entry barrier. The mobile kitchen can be customised with a variety of components to suit the kind of street food that is going to be provided. Because of its compact size, it can be used in areas that would be too small for conventional food trucks. When folded, the kitchen can be pushed like a trolley.

“This design is in perfect alignment with Living Kitchen’s aspiration of making food and cooking come alive,” says an impressed Norbert Ruf. Erik Mantz-Hansen clearly focuses on one objective above all others in his work: functionality. Hard and clear forms, eye-catching colours and simple details are the young designer’s trademarks.

Discover other designs by Erik Mantz-Hansen on his Instagram page.

Four designs, one thing in common

If we break the works of the winners down into their basic functions, you cannot say that they represent a never-before-seen approach. A chair is still a chair, a lamp is a lamp, and a kitchen is a kitchen. But the designs of the four up-and-coming young talents prove that it’s worth questioning the status quo and rediscovering the things we are familiar with. Adopting creative approaches, courageous ideas and unique styles, they have reinterpreted everyday objects – which is the only way design can evolve.

Young designers need a stage

This year has shown more clearly than ever why imm cologne and its Pure Talents Contest is so important for aspiring designers. The competition offers young talents an ideal platform for establishing contacts, presenting their work and making a name for themselves in the furnishing and design world. But we as an industry also benefit from the competition because innovative ideas keep us moving forward.

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