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Young, Modular, Original: Furniture Visions

Students presented creative and innovative ideas using the laminate material at the Interprint Werkschau.

What can you do if you have guests but not enough places to sit? You simply take a picture from the wall, fold it open to a bench and hang the coats on the unused hook. That is how simply and cleverly the ‘ManIFold’ furniture piece, with which Raphael Wlotzki won the first prize of the design competition, works. The design competition for the best modular furniture was organised by Interprint GmbH and the Design Post Cologne.

The ideas of the competing 25 participants, who had worked with great dedication on their models since autumn 2010, ranged from wall-mounted and floor-standing shelving systems to tube and cardboard box furniture. In March 2011, the expert jury met at the Design Post Cologne where the students personally presented their furniture pieces. The final round included ten models that will be exhibited during the Interzum Trade Fair from 25th to 28th May. “All the works are independent and innovative. They reflect the tackling of the competition task in completely different ways,” said jury member Dorthe Brink after the meeting. The competition design task was a modular furniture piece with replaceable laminate surfaces for young adults.

This task was best solved by Raphael Wlotzki from the Saarbrücken University of Fine Arts. In the hanging state, the ‘ManIFold’ competition-winning furniture piece is a picture with decorative surfaces that can be easily replaced by means of magnetic retainers. The fold-out legs, which quickly convert the picture into a bench with a decorative sitting surface, are also integrated in the picture frame. ‘ManIFold’ is a perfect example of multi-functionality, even in respect of its name because ‘ManIFold’ can be translated both as ‘manifold’ and ‘Man, I fold’. “The idea, design and the model have been perfectly developed and realised down to the last detail. The properties of laminate were not only taken into account, the material was also turned into a work of art and that enhanced its image,” stated the jury upon awarding the competition’s top prize.

The second prize was won by Piotr Gargól from the Academy of Art in Lodz (Poland). The young student developed ‘Big Wave’, a modular shelving system consisting of plastic-coated chipboard, steel tubes and wavy-like restrained decorative laminate boards. The construction is based on user-friendly push-in joints. The wavy-like restraining of the decorative boards allows diverse design possibilities. The shelving can stand alone in the room and be used from all sides. “A carefully thought-through, technically simple and well-functioning solution. Piotr Gargól put the material in the foreground and exploited its bendability to create changeable space in the shelving. The design gives laminate an almost sculptural usage,” said the jury.

  • ​Pascal Dicks from the Aachen University of Applied Sciences was awarded the third prize for ‘Convert’, a modular wall shelving system. Several layers of laminate boards with different decorative surfaces are combined around a centre board by means of two specially developed aluminium sections. The system can be extended without limit in four directions.

“The competition task was realised in a technically complex and perfected way. The laminate is not only a visible decorative surface but also a supporting element at the same time,” said the impressed jury. Pascal Dicks has very intelligently solved the question of what to do with the replaced decorative boards that are not being used. The boards that are not being used as visible surfaces are a part of the supporting construction.

Marion Conrad from the Saar University of Fine Arts received a praiseworthy mention for her ‘Plattenbau’ (Panel Construction) design, a modular shelving system made of double-webbed panels. “The other models presented here are also interesting and realisable designs,” said Dorthe Brink. Each has the potential for being developed as a saleable product. The ten selected furniture pieces, including the winner models, have been exhibited to the general public at the Design Post in Cologne in the ‘Competition Boulevard’, during the Interprint Werkschau from 25th to 28th May 2011.

About the Competition
The ‘Open-Minded’ design competition organised by Interprint and the Design Post Cologne was aimed at students at Saar University of Fine Arts, the Aachen University of Applied Sciences and the Strzeminski Academy of Art in Lodz (Poland). The participants had to submit an application outlining their concept, a 1:1 scale model, 3D illustrations and make a presentation in English. The expert jury of the competition included Oliver Conrad and Mari-Lisa Richter (OC Möbel, Düsseldorf), Valentin Hartmann (bordbar, Cologne), Jochen Holzmann (Ferdinand Holzmann Verlag, Hamburg), Tomek Rygalik (Tomek Rygalik Studio, Warsaw), Volker Streckel (Design Post Cologne) and Dorthe Brink and Salvatore Figliuzzi (Interprint, Arnsberg).