January 6th, 2012 by smow

Although officially a company fete at which Moormann wanted to thank their partners, dealers, designers et al for the good cooperation over the previous year; Die Hölle von Aschau was much more a family fest at which one could really feel the warmth that exists between the company and all they work with.

And that despite the sleet and wind.

This warmth was particularly evident as Nils Holger Moormann himself took to the track and was immediately surrounded by the sort of camera scrum more normally associated with George Clooney or Brad Pitt.

It was, genuinely, most touching.

In a week or so we’ll be in Cologne at IMM, in a world where hard deals are done on the purchase of leather sofas of questionable quality by over-confident reps in suits of an equally perfidious pedigree. Invariably this year using a tablet.

The Bookinist Cup was a reminder that it needn’t be so.

And we don’t just mean the fact that Vitra were a “sponsor”.

Guessing at what the whole exercise must have cost, we’re pretty certain that the money Moormann invested in Die Hölle von Aschau could easily have paid for a stand at a trade fair.

But knowing what we do about Nils Holger and his merry band of Moormänner we suspect that if it came to a direct choice between a trade fair or racing pieces of their furniture round a car park. The car park would win every time.

Something that is only possible in a world where it is understood that although profit is an unavoidable necessity; quality is the most important measure of success or failure. And that quality comes from having a real passion for what you do, about not seeing your occupation as mere work and from the fact that doing what you do makes you happy.

And so because it so eloquently reminded us that the designer furniture industry is something to be enjoyed, Die Hölle von Aschau wins a place in our highlights of 2011.

And for all who weren’t there. The official race film.


Posted in Designer, Moormann, Producer Tagged with: , , ,

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011 smow bookinist race
December 16th, 2011 by smow

Away from the race track a real highlight of “Die Hölle von Aschau” was the Concours d’Élégance.

Ahead of the event Moormann sent out miniature Bookinist kits to their clients, partners and chums with the request that they be “pimped” and returned.

If we’re honest we don’t think that they expected to get that many back.

And so they were genuinely all the more impressed with not only the response but the very high quality of the responses.

From a Gingerbread Bookinist over Popemobiles and onto something unspeakably coarse if equally cool from Jehs + Laub, the fantasy and artistic talent of Moormann’s extended family is clearly limitless.

It was truly a delight to behold. The full gallery can be viewed here

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011 Concours d'Élégance

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011: Concours d'Élégance

A kit also arrived in the (smow)HQ.

(smow) of course wouldn’t be (smow) if they simply followed rules as laid down by others. Even when the “other” is Nils Holger Moormann.

And so, yes, (smow) customised a Bookinist kit. But (smow) customised a 1:1 scale Bookinist.

Constructed in the valley’s of south Sachsen by local craftsmen using traditional production methods and employing an environmentally friendly electric motor in contrast to Moormann’s ozone challenging, and quite frankly last century, diesel motors the (smow) Bookinist was ….

…. immediately disqualified from the race!

And that despite being filled with real books, rather than stickers on other race Bookinists we could mention!

However after several appeals the race jury graciously decided to create an extra category for exceptional examples of East German engineering and the (smow) team were finally allowed into the pit lane to prepare for battle.

When the time came, the hours of training proved invaluable on the tight Aschau track and under the jubilation of the gathered thousands the (smow)pilot brought his chariot home in a very respectable time of 1:17.65

Which in a fair and just world would have been 8th place.

And then as the rest of the participants partied the night away, (smow)racing were still out and about, improving their skills on the rain soaked cobblestones of Aschau.

Much as you’d expect…..

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011 smow bookinist

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011: The (smow) Bookinist takes shape.....

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011 smow bookinist test

... a test round in the Moormann car park ....

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011 smow bookinist race

.....before blitzing round the Bookinist Cup 2011 course.

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011 smow bookinist meat

Then while others dined on and with the other competitors ...

Die Hölle von Aschau 2011 smow bookinist night

......(smow) kept on racing through the night.

Posted in Designer, Moormann, Producer, Product, smow Tagged with: , , ,

Bookinist Cup 2011 Die Hölle von Aschau logo red
October 21st, 2011 by smow

Twenty four hours before Sebastian Vettel sealed his second F1 drivers title in Japan, Markus Jehs and Jürgen Laub were securing victory in an event that stands a vertical cliff face higher than F1 on Mount Motor Sport and to which Vettel himself hopes to ascend, once he gets a bit better at driving: The Bookinist Cup.

For many the Bookinist was developed as an armchair in which one could sit and read; surrounded by your favourite literature. This however is one of the crueler droplets in the marketing mist of deception that shrouds the global designer furniture industry.

Alone the style in which Nils Holger Moormann first presented his chariot at Milan in 2008 betrayed his real intentions.

However, as with so much of Moormann’s oeuvre, the glossy magazines and intern-heavy, content-light design blogs struggled to comprehend the true majesty of the creation; and so the company were forced to tone down the marketing and position the Bookinist as a family friendly product.
As something your granny could use.

Industry insiders and adrenaline junkies know better. And the more intractable of those answered Nils Holger Moormann’s challenge to combat.

Die Hölle von Aschau Nils Holger Moormann

The Challenger: Nils Holger Moormann

For the 2011 Bookinist Cup, twenty international teams gathered under the clock tower in front of the Festhalle in Aschau to do battle – with each other and with one of the most devious and unforgiving forms of transportation developed since someone foolishly thought the donkey “might be useful”.

With the first snow of winter taunting from the peaks of the Chiemgauer Alpen and dark clouds foreboding worse, a key factor was always going to be the weather. Fortunately Saint Medard meant well with the competitors – and it remained friendly for the majority of the race.

The dry track however not helping all, and the competition got off to a dramatic start when Team 1 “Tuktuk-Racing”, broke the Bookinist – poor skippering leading to a disagreement with the straw bales and ending with a separation of chassis and front wheel.

Fortunately, not only had the Mormann Design Team prepared two race Bookinists for the event. They can also weld. Quickly. And so after a short Safety Car period the competition could continue unhindered.

Following good times from Robert Widmann & David Fechner, Bibs Hosak-Robb & David Robb and Garbriele & Matthias von Schweinitz, Nils Holger Moormann himself entered the arena.

If euphoria ever knew limits; it made new acquaintances on a cold afternoon in south Bavaria.

Driving his personal Bookinist, a vehicle that he genuinely uses to travel to work every day, Nils’ challenge was unfortunately less triumphant than his reception on the start line, and he appeared hampered by a less than optimal performance from his engine. Although potentially it was more a problem that the wrong sort of fuel had been tanked. From track-side it was hard to tell.

With the challenger beaten, it was left to the last of the challengees to fight for the crown.

Erika and André Küchler did Switzerland proud, while Saskia Kaptein & Just Haasnoot successfully disproved many of the crowds unfavourable stereotypes concerning Dutch drivers.

But ultimately no one could master either the course nor the Bookinist with the skill, grace and steely nerve to match Stuttgart design studio Jehs and Laub.

The Bookinist was never a beast that took kindly to taming. There is no book “The Bookinist Whisperer” Nor do we imagine their ever will be.

And so respect to all who took on the Hell of Aschau and left the to tell their tale.

We salute you!

And yes Team(smow) were also present … but that’s a story for another day.

For the sake of completion, a list of all teams and times can be found at: www.die-hoelle-von-aschau.de

And the four prize winners were:

Fastest Racing-Team: Stuttgarter Höllenhunde (Markus Jehs & Jürgen Laub)

Best Stunt: Die Molitomähns (Frank Leukers  &Jürgen Kupfer)

Sleekest Performance: Vatikan Racing – Der eilige Stuhl (Klaus Wolter & Mark Bruckmann)

Most Contact with the Straw Bales: Ratz-Fatz-Team (Alex Seifried & Stephan Scholl)


Posted in Designer, Moormann, Producer, Product Tagged with: , , ,

kampenwand Chiemgauer Alpen Aschau
October 10th, 2011 by smow

As we stood in a cold-storage centre in west Vienna looking at Ljod by Copa, somehow we knew it was also training for the rapidly approaching winter.

We just didn’t realise how quickly it would come.

A mere 72 hours later we found ourselves standing on the station platform at Prien in Chiemgau. Air temperature 4 degrees.

By the time we reached Aschau, the first snow of the winter was busy dusting the tops of the Chiemgauer Alpen.

And we began considering if it wasn’t, slowly, time to swap our shorts for full length trousers.

kampenwand Chiemgauer Alpen Aschau

The first snow of winter on the Kampenwand in Aschau

Arriving at our accommodation the landlady asked us what had brought us to deepest Bavaria; “We’re here to photograph furniture”, we half lied.

“Ahh at Moormann” she replied.

There are a couple of other furniture making companies in Aschau; but somehow it was extremely comforting to hear that the locals consider the products of Nils Holger Moormann the only ones worth travelling half way across Europe to photograph.

If we’re honest we were only there to photograph one piece of Moormann furniture.

And not in a context for which it was originally intended.

However we couldn’t really explain that to our landlady. And not just on account of our frozen brains.

We’ll explain more later, once we’ve finished organising the photos and videos, but for now here is a picture of a Moormann Bookinist wonderfully re-created in gingerbread by the team from Neue Werkstätten, Munich.

We hope that’s not given you too much of a clue….


Posted in Designer, Moormann, Producer Tagged with: , ,

Bookinst by Nils Holger Moormann - a real designer car
June 27th, 2010 by smow

You know how it is.

You arrive early in the office….. Make a coffee….. Turn the computer on…….. Check out the tabloid press websites….. And break gently into the day with stories as irrelevant and vacuous as they are compelling.

It’s just a comfortable and familiar way to start the day.

This morning was different.

The story had all the makings of normal tabloid nonsense: a pop star, a footballer’s wife and a party guest list that you suspect had been thrown together by a tired and bored PR company who distribute invites by clicking “resend” .

“The popstar wife of footballer David Beckham, who has her own fashion label, revealed that she has been asked to design the interior of the new X Y Z – extending the ever-expanding ‘Brand Beckham’ into the world of motoring.”

“On her new role as car designer, she said: ‘I am incredibly excited to be collaborating with X Y. I like to take on a challenge and I’m ready for it.'”

Vehicles by designers aren’t new.

The Interior of James Irvine's Mercedes Bus. Roomier than what Mrs Beckham has to work with

The Interior of James Irvine's bus. Roomier than what Mrs Beckham has to work with.

In cooperation with the Expo 2000 exhibition James Irvine and Jasper Morrison designed trams and buses for the cities of Hanover and Leipzig; London Transport recently unveiled their new routemaster bus from the pen of Thomas Heatherwick; Thonet have developed a delightful gear shift knob in collaboration with Volvo.

Aschau im Chiemgau design legend Nils Holger Moormann has as even designed a complete range of vehicles for nomadic bibliophiles; the Bookinist and Easy Reader.

But “car designer” Victoria Beckham?

Is that really “design”?

Or just an obvious and cheap PR gag from a company whose tradition and customer list would tend to imply that they really don’t need to resort to tired PR gags?

We go with the later. But know that in doing so we’re opening a large can of worms.

The delightful Volvo gear shift knob by Thonet

The delightful Volvo gear shift knob by Thonet

Is every new Philippe Starck product really necessary? When company A, B or C hire Patricia Urquiola to design a new sideboard – do they really need the sideboard, or Patricia Urquiola as a designer in their portfolio? In a saturated media market are “star” designers being increasingly abused as “blog fodder”? A quick look in our twitter and RSS feeds would tend to imply yes.

Ronan Bouroullec certainly provided a fairly broad hint in that direction during his conversation with us in Milan.

But also did little more than confirm what we all know.

A lot of the products that are launched at design shows are superfluous.


They are superfluous because they are not necessary, because they exist only as marketing vehicles for the company; but principally because everyone can see that the designer has given practically no thought as to what they are doing or why.

Consequently, many of the products in Milan might as well have been “designed” by Victoria Beckham.

Which is why we’re not going to Milan 2011: Too irrelevant.

Bookinst by Nils Holger Moormann - a real designer car

Bookinst by Nils Holger Moormann - a real designer car

Clearly Mrs Beckham isn’t “designing” the interior of the new X Y Z; she’s choosing the fabric.
And it will probably be black leather.

And as such we shouldn’t get so wound-up.

But it does get our goat when something as involved and creative as “design” is reduced to nothing more than a marketeers line in a press release designed to ensure media coverage and thus sell a product or brand.

A marketeers line that is then gleefully repeated ad captandum vulgus by the international press.

Just as it gets our goat when designers who we know are blessed with talents far beyond the normal turn out pointless tat that no one really needs in order to make a quick buck. A little more self-control would be nice; from the designers as well as from the click hungry blog community who give the producers the oxygen they crave – yet often don’t deserve.

“Car designer” Victoria Beckham.

We’d love to be a fly on the wall as Victoria Beckham “designs” the X Y Z interior.

Posted in Designer, Moormann, Producer, Product, Thonet Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Flip by Alexander Seifried for Richard Lampert
June 23rd, 2009 by julius

Lets get the tricky one out the way first. The Top 5 Tables from the smow design spring. In no particular order.

Liesmichl by Nils Holger Moormann for Moormann

Liesmichl by Nils Holger Moormann for Moormann

Liesmichl by Nils Holger Moormann for Moormann.
If there’s one thing Moormann excel at it’s producing book friendly furniture. From the outrageous Bookinist over the classically overtoned Bookstabler and onto the book-friendly desk Kant, the Allgauer always seem to have readers at the forefront of their thoughts. And Liesmichl is no exception; space for books your going to read, a place to safely lay the book you are reading when you need/want a break, and a place for your drink and snacks. And if your not convinced check out Nils Holger Moorman on (smow)tube. Liesmichl. Top Table.

Tints by Jason Miller

Tints by Jason Miller

Tints by Jason Miller.
As we were young scallywags causing mayhem and heartbreak wherever we got the chance, sweeties shone in a wonderfully opaque way. It may have been the memory of those care-free days that first drew our eye to Jason Millers Tints. Or it may have been the gorgeous way the legs fit into the frame, the optic caused by the wood/glass combination. Or it may have been Jake’s glasses. Regardless, however, of “why” we are glad we were drawn to Tints. Beautifully crafted, familiar and inviting in their styling and fresh in their design Tints are truly a table range that can and will provide pleasure in a number of setting. Tints. Top Table.

Flip by Alexander Seifried for Richard Lampert

Flip by Alexander Seifried for Richard Lampert

Flip by Alexander Seifried for Richard Lampert.
If you were to hold us, upside down, over the edge of our balcony by our ankles, we would probably admit that Flip table standing in the corner of our balcony is just a few bits of metal welded together.
But then so is a 1954 Corvette Convertible, Blue Flame Six
With it’s wonderfully timeless elegance, smooth action and universal functionality Flip is a wonderful table for all who have limited space, know how to enjoy the space and don’t want to compromise when it comes to high-quality furniture. Flip. Top Table.

Adenike by .

Adenike by Bao-Nghi Droste

Adenike by Bao-Nghi Droste
Admittedly less of a table, and more of an independent work station, Adenike nevertheless makes it into our Top Five Tables. Beautifully crafted, functional, practical and aesthetically charming Adenike is a product that truly achieves the aim the designer set themselves. And despite it’s intended function as a meeting point, we know that if we had one here in our Lower-East Plagwitz Village office we would spend a good deal reading the paper on it, sleeping on it and using it as a refuge from the daily chores. Adenike. Top Table.

ETR by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra

ETR by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra

ETR – Elliptical Table Rod Base by Charles and Ray Eames from Vitra
As if proof were needed that only new design can be good. In Milan we saw the Eamse’s ETR for the first time “live”, as it were, and were truly blown away by it. There is something about the height of the table – or possibly the height to length ratio – that gives the ETR a regency that few other pieces of furniture can ever hope to reach. Laissez fe surf-styling combined with Bauhaus bent steel elegance. Gorgeous. ETR. Top Table.

And a special mention goes to Table Fights. Hasta La Vista

Posted in Designer, Producer, Product, smow design spring Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,