The winners and nominated projects from the 2016 International Marianne Brandt Contest can be viewed in an exhibition in Chemnitz.
Time was we couldn’t write about Chemnitz without making a cynical comment, an alleged joke.
These days we not only travel voluntarily, and regularly, to Chemnitz but have begun to understand aspects of the town’s character, aspects which on account of our previous attitude had long been hidden to us. These days we even have a favourite falafel dealer in the town. Have gone to the trouble of finding one. And we can’t say that about everywhere.
An important role in helping us change our position on Chemnitz has been and is still played by the triennial International Marianne Brandt Contest, the 2016 edition of which reached in conclusion on October 1st with an awards ceremony and exhibition vernissage.
First awarded in 2001, the International Marianne Brandt Contest is open to creatives under 40 from all genres, and although the organisers are very keen not to refer to it as a design competition, in a very, very broad sense it is. Albeit one which understands design more as a process than a product, sees in the interplay of art and design, in a freer interpretation of the design process, design research and indeed the term design, not only the (original) spirit of Bauhaus, but a way towards more meaningful, durable, solutions. And which thus makes it one of the more entertaining and interesting international “design” competitions.
For its 6th edition the International Marianne Brandt Contest was staged under the motto Material Effects and asked for projects which concerned themselves with materials: their origins, properties, uses but for all which explored our relationship with materials and how that/those relationship(s) could or should develop and evolve, how we can make better, more intelligent use of materials, and thus how creative research can help society become more socially and environmentally responsible.
And thus a theme which not only nicely continues the Cradle-to-Cradle theme of the 2013 contest but much more continues the competition’s exploration of central themes of International Modernism in contemporary creative contexts.
Some 423 projects were subsequently submitted from 27 countries, 423 submissions narrowed down to 60 nominations in the three competition categories: Product Design, Photography and Experimental Design
And 60 nominated projects on display in an exhibition in the Museum of Industry in Chemnitz.
Divided in to five sections exploring materials in context of “Memory & Meaning”, “Tactility”, “Developing relationships”, “Formulate, Compose” and “Circulate/Transfer” the 2016 Marianne Brandt Contest exhibition neatly underscores that much more than being simply building blocks, base units of products, materials are every bit as important as form or function in the design process, that despite our apparent familiarity with materials they offer ever new perspectives and possibilities and that materials can take an object beyond the physical reality into the immaterial.
A compact but in no way underwhelming exhibition the relatively open exhibition design concept gives you the peace and space to study and explore the entries as individual works as much as they are part of an integrated composition.
For us that meant in addition to very welcome wiedersehen with projects such as Birgit Severin’s Ashes vases, or the photographic series Snow & Ice by Ilka Raupach, the 2016 International Marianne Brandt Contest exhibition also introduced us to some truly delightful new projects. Or at least projects new to us. And projects which we know will continue to occupy us for a while yet.
In particular we were very taken with by the connector systems Verbinder by HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd students Leon Rinne, Tabea Lankhuijzen, Michael Schoeninger and Andreas Hutter.
And thus a project we potentially missed at the recent HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd semester exhibition. Which if true, would make us, in the words of Father Dougal, “massive eejits”.
As a concept Verbinder recycles plastic in a delightfully analogue process to produce a very simple connector for a very simple slot-together wooden shelving systems. A few years ago we lost interest in very simple slot-together wooden shelving systems: Verbinder re-fired that interest. Largely because as a concept Verbinder isn’t about the shelving system but all about the low-tech, analogue, production process and thus the universality of its application. Yes, one could also 3D print the connectors, but useful as 3D printing is it involves investment in hardware and technical understanding. Moulding is simple. And in this case better.
And one needn’t stop at such simple connectors. The concept can be effortlessly developed and expanded to allow construction of objects beyond very simple slot-together wooden shelving systems.
In addition we were very taken with the Interlude Wall Light by Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee graduate Elena Tezak. Inspired by traditional, cast metal, bells the Interlude Wall Lamp is illuminated via a swinging motion: tugging on the bell pull sets the lamp head/bell in motion, the light coming on in that moment when the clapper would strike against the wall of the bell. On—–off—-on—off–on-off-onoffon, the light intensity and duration increasing with the movement.
And thus as a domestic lighting solution one of only limited potential; unless you happen to have a spare servant who can continually work the bell pull .
However for us the project is as much about the mechanics as it is about the functionality, about the transfer of kinetic energy into light energy, the visualisation of action and response and the way it alters our relationship to the object. Lamps are simple, electricity is complicated.
Which only leaves the question of who won what. The 2016 Marianne Brandt Contest. Congratulations to all!
1st Prize: Studio Umschichten – Precycling
1st Prize: Almut Hilf – Denken im Bestand
2nd Prize: Kalinka Gieseler – Junkspace #We don´t own anything
Special Prize Neuen Schule für Fotografie: Sandra Stark & Carmina Blank – Die Ästhetik des Unheimlichen
Special Prize Industrieverein Sachsen 1828 e.V.: Paula van Brummelen – Responsive Surfaces
Special Prize Vitra: Verena Kuck – Nachtfalter, a single person tent
Special Prize USM: Adrianus Kundert – Ripening Rugs
Special Prize LUMALENSCAPE: Chuana Mahlendorf – FOLIFLORA – a new way to handle clay.
Material Effects the International Marianne Brandt Contest Exhibition runs at the Chemnitz Museum for Industry, Zwickauer Str. 119, 09112 Chemnitz until Sunday January 8th. Full details can be found at: www.saechsisches-industriemuseum.com
Full details on the International Marianne Brandt Contest can be found at: http://marianne-brandt-wettbewerb.de
Finally, and as ever, in the interest of transparency, smow Chemnitz are a long standing partner and supporter of the International Marianne Brandt Contest.