The winners of the German Design Council’s ein&zwanzig newcomers’ awards were chosen today in Milan. These awards for emerging talent were presented during Milan Design Week in recognition of the 21 most convincing product and project ideas from this year’s hottest young international designers. The ultimate prize, “Best of Best”, went to designer Simon Frambach. Exhibits by all 21 prize winners will be on display from the 9–14 April 2019 at an exhibition venue designed by Studiopepe, located at Via Tortona 31.

Dynamic Seating
From among 824 entries, Simon Frambach took out the “Best of Best” title with his Dynamic Folding Chair (DFC) product – the world’s first folding chair that enables both static and dynamic sitting. Thanks to its elasticity, the folding chair responds directly to the user’s movements and offers a wide range of seating options, moving the user’s muscles and relieving the spine. In this way Frambach imbues the folding chair, which is often produced as a “cheap” disposable product, with new value. His message: “Even a plastic folding chair can be sustainable, provided it is designed to be durable, to be passed down through the generations and, at the end of this cycle, it consists of detachable and recyclable components. Only when you really understand value chains can you provide the right, well-considered inspiration”.

Young designers with sustainable concepts
Other award-winning works also make it clear that sustainability continues to be a central concern of young designers. This is exemplified by the winning works which, among other things, showcase a whole series of ecologically clever concepts. The reuse of materials and unrestricted recyclability is a central, recurring design approach: Anna Drewes and Dario Lannone, for example, have designed sound-absorbing acoustic panels made from completely organic banana and mulberry tree fibres. The indigo plant gives them a blue colour. Bamboo forms the simple frame that makes the structure ultra-light. “There is no one right way to a more sustainable future,” explained designer Anna Drewes. “Visionary strategies and speculative design are just as important as materials research or looking at cultural change”.

Chinese competitor Youyang Song, a student at the Weißensee Academy of Art in Berlin, takes a similar approach. With her Cooking New Material project, she has perfected a process in which organic waste can be made into flexible, leather-like materials. With the aid of a natural binder, banana skins, orange peels and soy milk pomace are transformed into a composite material with a number of potential applications. The result is a 100% “no waste” natural product with high aesthetic appeal – the starting point for countless potential products.
Jingbei Zheng, also from China, has developed accessories for kitchen cleaning in her Rebrush project. Natural loofah sponges are an ideal cleaning material and can be easily replaced thanks to the flexible holder. With the product’s elegant handles, Zheng has transformed an everyday activity into an event in its own right.
Laura van de Wijdeven from the Netherlands has developed tiles consisting of up to 50 percent Forbo jute fibre, a by-product from Forbo’s linoleum production process. In combination with gypsum, the fibres form very strong tiles with a wide variety of patterns that can be used as wall or floor coverings.
The Israeli duo Gal Bulka and Ori Shifrin Anavi take a different approach to the sustainable use of available raw materials. Their rotating desk lamp makes use of the user’s own waste glass: the Marvin pendant luminaire, which plays with primary shapes, can be mounted on any wine bottle, which then functions as a stand.

High-calibre jury for the young talent awards
Since 2017, the German Design Council’s ein&zwanzig awards have become established as a major event for up-and-coming talent in the international design scene.This year the jury was tasked with evaluating 824 entries from 73 countries, a 12-percent increase on the previous year (736 applications).The 15-strong committee includes a young generation of successful designers such as Hanne Willmann, Eva Marguerre, Marcel Besau and the Dutch design duo Raw Colour (Daniera ter Haar, Christoph Brach), as well as established design greats such as Konstantin Grcic, Nils Holger Moormann and Stefan Diez. The demanding selection process was also supported by industry experts such as Barbara Friedrich, Nina Bruun and Andrej Kupetz. “The young generation of designers has more than understood the signs of the times,” says Andrej Kupetz, Chairman of the Jury and Chief Executive Officer of the German Design Council. “Contemporary design is based on sustainability, recyclability and longevity. Looking at these sophisticated design products and experiments gives us confidence that we will master the ecological challenges of the 21st century”.

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