“We launch young, authentic designers”
imm cologne is looking for the best up-and-coming designers againThe digital revolution, the relevance of social networks, the fundamental changes in society that are leading to a lasting shift when it comes to the question of how we’ll live in the future – all these influences have an effect on the intriguing works of the young designers and startups. They are showcased in the Pure Talents Contest, one of the most highly recognised international competitions for young designers in the interiors world. Hosted by one of the biggest interiors shows on the planet – imm cologne – it provides a stage where up-and-coming talents can present their products to a broad audience and make contact with the industry for the first time.
A green light for young and experimental design: once again, students and recent graduates of design schools from all over the world are invited to submit their designs for contemporary, sustainable objects for the home. Last year, 862 entries from 59 countries were received for the imm cologne 2021, representing a total of 240 design schools. Rather than always going with the trend, the works shown by the young creatives are often more expressive in their use of colour, more unusual in their design and more likely to come with a clever twist.
A first-rate jury gives young designers the chance for a successful launch
The members of this year’s first-rate jury are designer Eva Marguerre (Designstudio Besau-Marguerre) from Hamburg, designer Sebastian Herkner from Offenbach, Norbert Ruf, creative director and managing director of Thonet GmbH, and Jennifer Reaves, CEO of DesignFest GmbH. In addition to assessing the design qualities, they will also be looking for a unique vision that could be meaningful to many users all over the world. Nowadays, it’s not just talent that counts; it’s equally important to develop a coherent narrative, a story about how a product fits in with and/or influences life. “For us, in contrast to many similar competitions, it’s about so much more than ‘just’ good design. Our jury sets out to get an overall picture of the product that’s been submitted and the designer, and that’s what decides whose design is nominated,” says Dick Spierenburg, creative director of imm cologne. Jennifer Reaves adds: “For me, it’s not just design-related innovation that counts. Today a successful designer needs to be an entrepreneur too, and that means having the skills to market your own talent, calculate the cost of a product from production all the way to its retail price, analyse the market and much more. Only candidates who are aware that all these roles are necessary and form part of the same whole can be a winner in the Pure Talents Contest.”
The Pure Talents Contest enters the digital space
Every year, the imm cologne’s Pure Talents Contest showcases the global creative sector’s achievements in the field of product and interior design with interactive products, sustainability concepts and innovative furniture. “We launch young, authentic designers,” says imm cologne director Claire Steinbrück. “Our goal is for the contest to give young designers the chance to enter the market successfully. You could say we put them on the launch pad and prepare them for takeoff,” says a committed Steinbrück. At the same time, the format of the design contest is evolving in line with the times. Expedited by the pandemic, the way the professional community and market perceive and assess the designs has changed: “In a digital world, we’ve got used to seeing everything in pictures straight away. That’s why we want to think more in terms of digital images too. Our revised concept will expand the Pure Talents Contest into the digital space.”
The focus of the new concept is on increasing digital reach, with the two digital components serving as the logical complement to the physical presentation at imm cologne. While the Magazine by imm cologne provides inspiration for living spaces 365 days a year, ambista serves as a year-round platform for business and networking. For the 20 designers nominated by the jury, making the Pure Talents Contest an integral part of both these formats will deliver considerable added value as compared to previous years. In this way, the Pure Talents Contest will expand its presence far beyond the presentation at the physical venue and reach a global audience of millions. “The Pure Talents Contest is a success story; we’re not replacing it, we’re expanding it. What happens at the exhibition venue continues to serve as the basis and has appeal as a temporary gathering place for the interior design scene – and therefore also continues to ensure a successful launch for young creatives,” says Claire Steinbrück of the benefits. “In our view, the new orientation takes the Pure Talents Contest to a new level.”
The Pure Talents Contest entry process
Held and organised by Koelnmesse, the Pure Talents Contest is specifically aimed at designers who are either still at college or have just completed their training. The deadline for entries for the 2022 contest is 15 September 2021, after which they will be presented to the jury for assessment and selection of the 20 best products. The three best designs will be chosen from among these 20 nominated entries, all of which will receive publicity from the trade fair. There will be a first, second and third prize, with prize money of €1,500, €1,000 and €500 respectively. In addition, there will also be an audience prize (#PTC22) for the Pure Talents Contest 2022; the winner will be selected via a people’s vote on Instagram and receive prize money of €500.
Participation in the competition and, if applicable, the Pure Talents Contest exhibition, is free of charge for the designers. For full details of the contest, the conditions of participation and information about former participants and their entries, go to: