With a new name, but a familiar format, the 2018 Kölner Design Preis once again celebrates the city’s design students and creative colleges, including an exhibition of all nominated projects in the Cologne Museum für Angewandte Kunst.
Inaugurated in 2007 the Kölner Design Preis/Toby E. Rodes Award is a by-nomination award, every creative college in Cologne being entitled to submit graduation projects for consideration by an independent jury, a jury whose 2018 members included Professor Ralf Sommer from the HfBK Hamburg, Nils Holger Moormann, from Nils Holger Moormann, and under the chairmanship of Form magazine chief editor Stephan Ott, so yeah, there was a little bit of a late-80s Neue deutsches Design thing going on, but since when was that a problem?
Organised since its inception on a voluntary basis by a working group within the Köln International school of Design, KISD, the Kölner Design Preis has over the years had numerous partners/sponsors, 2018 seeing the start of a new partnership with, and new title through, the estate of the German/American design critic/consultant Toby E. Rodes, a man who in the course a varied career, was responsible for helping re-organise post-War German media, for the PR and communications strategy in context of the Marshall Plan and also for developing Knoll International’s European business in the 1950s and 1960s. And as such a man for whom design was a borderless concept, as with that design prize that now bears his name.
For the 2018 edition some 28 submissions were received from five Cologne institutions – ecosign/Akademie für Gestaltung, Hochschule Macromedia, Internationale Filmschule Köln, Köln International School of Design & Rheinische Fachhochschule Köln – a mix of institutions which underscores the mix of design genres represented, and from which the jury awarded four prizes:, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and a special Jury Award.
As we regularly note, Cologne is the only city we are aware of where such an award is organised, and we approve very much of the fact that it is organised. As we equally approve of the fact that the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln, MAKK, support the event through enabling an exhibition; for design museums aren’t just there to collect, store, catalogue, dust, and occasionally exhibit historic/established design as a fait accompli, as something to be digested and accepted as design because it is in a design museum collection, but also to explain what design is, what design can be, should be, and what better medium is there to achieve that than through student projects?
As we always note in context of our #campustour posts, student projects aren’t (necessarily) about the result, but (primarily) about the question posed and how the student developed their project in an attempt to approach an answer to that question, about the research undertaken, decisions made and new problems discovered on the way, and in that regard can be a bit freer. Not just in terms of less bound by the compromises of reality but uninhibited by the experiences of a world that is rarely listening. Or as Köln International School of Design Director, Kölner Design Preis co-initiator/driving force, and NdD alumni, Professor Wolfgang Laubersheimer, told us in an earlier interview, his advice to students would be to use their student days to “try everything that you want to try and always do something that you think you wont get the chance to later.”
And that can be a real world project with tangible, concrete objectives; can be a more experimental, open ended, material or process led research; or something completely free, abstract, philosophical, and all such approaches are featured amongst the Kölner Design P/Toby E. Rodes Award 2018 nominations, and can all be experienced in the exhibition in the MAKK, an exhibition which through the mix of genres, the juxtaposition of genres, and the open, uncommented presentation format allows for uncomplicated considerations on both the projects and the subjects under consideration.
And which, and to come back to where we were above, is just the sort of variety of design understandings and design positions museums should be presenting, to (at, least attempt to,) explain to a wider public what design is, the historic examples are there: with, for example, their numerous “Good Design” exhibitions of the 1950s the MoMA New York attempted just such, albeit largely in context of commercially available product/furniture design, similarly, and as recently discussed, the Museum des Arts Décoratifs Paris’s 1969 exhibition Qu’est-ce que design?, or the MoMa’s 1972 Italy: A new Domestic Landscape, both of which included commercially available product/furniture design but also moved far beyond such, because by then design thinking had move fundamentally beyond such. For all in Italy in 1972. And that design keeps evolving, that design, being as it is, a response to contemporary cultural, social, political, economic and technological conditions is never static but in continual flux, so should/must museums continue to explain contemporary design, continue to contribute to encouraging as many people as possible to concern themselves properly with design and to develop their own positions to and understandings of design. Rather than listening to snake oil sellers.
In which context, and we can hear you muttering at the back, in context of our 2018 #campustour, from the five schools represented we only visited the Köln International School of Design KISDparcours exhibition, and from the 14 KISD projects nominated, we mentioned in our subsequent post….. none. No names, no pack drill, but in two cases we know why that was, and it wasn’t because we didn’t like the projects, we did, but by necessity we have to limit ourselves, can’t mention everything, have to make decisions and can only make those on the basis of our thoroughly subjective and highly idiosyncratic design understanding and, and as we always note, understandings of design are different, which is one of the joys of design, arguably the joy of design. More problematic is that we can’t remember seeing the other 12. Although we presumably really, really should have, assuming they were on show, which we presume they were … and which, again, is why we always note from exhibitions/fairs that we may have missed things. Because we do. Thankfully we often get second chances. Occasionally third, fourth, fifth…..
We’ll not discuss any of the nominated and prize winning projects here, descriptions of all nominated projects can be found at www.koelnerdesignpreis.de and for all in or near Cologne the Kölner Design Preis/Toby E. Rodes Award 2018 exhibition can be viewed in the Museum für Angewandte Kunst Köln, An der Rechtschule, 50667 Cologne until Sunday November 18th. Entrance is free and all project summaries are bilingual German/English.
And so all that remains is to say a hearty Congratulations to all winners!!
Essentially a glove that allows the visually impaired/blind to experience the space around them and therefore navigate their way safely though that space, to, as Jakob states “see with your hands; a wearable that augments/substitutes for a body function and in many regards an update of the traditional blind cane. What particularly appealed to the jury was not only that development work undertaken by Jakob but that he had also taken his considerations beyond the prototype and onto developing realistic assessments of production and end costs.
A multi-media film exploring a future reality in which the earth has become uninhabitable for humans, and who have subsequently retreated into virtual realities. Freed from the co-existence with humans cockroaches have developed a new society and began developing a rocket to allow them to leave earth and find a new home. And then their path crosses that of a human……
The development of a novel process for the production of glass objects involving blowing the glass in textile lined moulds, a process which creates an always unique surface pattern, and thereby haptic.
An exploration of the similarities and overlaps between the principles of the Holy Ghost and psychiatric multimorbidity, not only visible similarities/overlaps but also structural, and considered from the position that both exist outwith the norms of human comprehension and thereby the inherent difficulties of properly understanding/communicating both.