Cologne furniture fair 28.01.09

words Anna Bates

Once again, the showcase for young designers in Cologne's 12-block Kölnmesse was one of the highlights of the city's design week. Just as well, as spirits weren't good in the other 11 blocks. As the first trade fair of 2009, it had to work pretty hard to keep talk of doom and gloom at bay. One attempt to keep things jolly was Stephen Burks' bright and vibrant Composite Lounge; the other was an unexpected compendium of Atelier Van Lieshout's vast artworks, laying out his dystopian vision of the future, which was less cheerful. Kölnmesse overlooked this when they were on the hunt for work that would take up a lot of space (sadly there was a lot of hall that needed filling).

But back to the talent show. In previous years, the D3 Contest has been a great way to see new work by recent graduates. This year the fair was keen to get in some better-known pieces - it was more a round-up of work by last year's best youngsters than a taste of things to come.

Of the new work, Austrian designer Marco Dessi's Prater Chair was probably our favourite. The designer described the beautiful grain as a happy accident, and let it sing by staining it yellow. Belgian designer Raphaël Charles exhibited a rug that resembles a small coalmine. Actually, it is made out of leftover foam polyethylene, a material that can't be recycled.

Elsewhere, Frankfurt-based Johannes Hemann exhibited a work in progress. The designer allows wind to generate the shapes of his products. Small grains of material fly around a box, until they stick to a central form (with help from heat and adhesive), gradually building up a shape - here, you see a light-shade and table.

Jacob Brinck of German design collective Ilot Ilov showed his stacking shelves Bill (which can be separated into separate "buckets") as well as his now well published desk Clark. Pepe Heykoop, one of Design Academy Eindhoven's new names, presented A Restless Chairacter - a chair with wobbly joints, allowing you to, er, wobble. The piece was a favourite with the judges - he won the competition.

top image Marco Dessi’s Prater Chair

image Jacob Brinck’s stacking shelves Bill and desk Clark

image Raphaël Charles’ 20/30 rug

image Johannes Hemann’s Firdtjof + Kirsten

image Pepe Heykoop, A Restless Chairacter

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