Moa by Roberta Wende, as seen at Design Without Borders 2024, Budapest

Pouls by Daniel Melente, as seen at Design Without Borders 2024, Budapest

Sonic Flowers and String by George Koutsouris, as seen at Design Without Borders 2024, Budapest

Access by mischer'traxler, as seen at Design Without Borders 2024, Budapest

Celebrating its 20th anniversary edition in 2024 we charted, and discussed, the (hi)story of Design Without Borders in our conversation with the institutions initiators, organisers and curators Szilvia Szigeti and Tamás Radnóti, and so refer you there dear readers for the background. And also refer you to our post from the 2014 edition, the last time we visited Design Without Borders in its native Budapest; a last visit in Budapest not for lack on interest, far from it, but simply on account of pressures of time.

In 2024 we did however manage to make it timeously to the Hungarian capital, and up the hill to the Kiscell Museum, Design Without Borders’ home since 2020, and over the coming days and weeks we will bring you some of our thoughts and reflections on some of those works and projects and positions experienced. Here we will quickly note, and as previously intimated, aside from the usual presentation of works by international designers invited by Szilvia and Tamás, and works by students of international design schools that have become a regular feature, Design Without Borders 2024 opens, if one so will, with a brief retrospective of the past 20 years, including textile designs by Szilvia and a desk by Tamás, the latter a work originally shown at the 1996 exhibition BútoroSOKKFurnitureSHOCK – at the Budapest Museum of Applied Arts, an exhibition curated by Tamás and which judging by the photo on display in the Kiscell Museum must have been a real SOKK in in late 1990s Budapest, and ends with a retrospective of the last decade of Texhibition, or at least ends with a large part of the Texhibition retrospective, elements are woven, pun very much intended, throughout the main display; a Texhibition platform organised by Szilvia which pairs textile designers with Hungarian textile manufacturers to realise a project with the overall aim of supporting and promoting textile design and the textile design industry in Hungary.

Sandwiched, if one so will, between the two retrospectives one finds not only the main Design Without Borders 2024 exhibition but also a presentation of projects from Spot On MozART, an interdisciplinary project undertaken between 2020 and 2023 by the Mozarteum, Salzburg, a presentation including results from a weaving project which links immaterial sound with tangible goods, a nice reminder that aesthetics isn’t just a visual concept; and which leads into a brief presentation of the (hi)story of the complex that houses the contemporary Kiscell Museum exploring not only the links between Kiscell and Mariazell, Austria, links that go back to the establishing of the Kiscell complex, the original name for Kiscell being Kismáriacell, Little Mariazell, because that’s exactly what it was built as, a small-scale copy of the church at Mariazell, but also discussing the life and work of the interior designer and furniture manufacturer Miska Schmidt who called the Kiscell complex home from 1910 until his death in 1935, when, following Schmidt’s bequeathing of the complex to the city, it became a museum of local (hi)story.

A presentation of the (hi)story of the Kiscell complex that, more or less, ends with a 1930s display vitrine from the, then, new museum. A vitrine that finds a formal echo in the 1996 desk by Tamás met at the start of Design Without Borders 2024. Albeit an echo with a different origin: the vitrine tapering towards its rear edge as it had to fit in the window space, and they taper towards the window; Tamás’s desk tapering because it is a reflection on desks, on the use of desks and a response to that way we all tend to use not the whole desk surface just an arc around us, and so don’t need the whole desk surface. So why provide the whole? A comparison that is a very nice reminder that in design a form is rarely a form and invariably is an expression of a position or a response to a questioning or a solution to a challenge. And a reminder that similar objects can and do arise in different epochs and from different approaches and from different positions, because a designer never works towards a form but towards a solution, an expression, an argument, a response, an object.

Reminders regularly repeated throughout Design Without Borders 2024, and that in a presentation which in its crossing borders, its ignoring borders, of genre, position, epoch, approach etc, allows for a questioning of what is ‘design’ if we don’t create borders between different creative practices? How does one define ‘design’ if there are no borders? How does one define ‘Europe’ if there are no borders? How does one define ‘the world’ if there are no borders? How do borders restrict and harm ‘design’? Questions that couldn’t be more relevant for design, or for the society that depends on the ongoing development of design and from which design develops.

For all in or near Budapest Design Without Borders 2024 can be viewed at the Kiscell Museum, Kiscelli utca 108, 1037 Budapest until Sunday June 23rd.

For all in on near Bratislava an abridged presentation can be viewed at Galéria Umelka, Dostojevského rad 4533/2, 811 09 Bratislava from Saturday July 13th until Saturday August 10th. A version that for all it is abridged we see no reason to doubt will be any less informative, interesting or entertaining than that on show in Budapest.

And for all, more details on Design Without Borders and the 2024 edition can be found at

Design Without Borders 2024, Saluton!

Given that ‘design’ is popularly associated with a limitless reality, an unrestrainable questioning, a pushing at the open doors of possibility, it does tend to get hemmed in quite a lot, we do tend to like place it within an awful lot of borders: geographic borders, category borders, practice borders, conceptual borders, historic borders, etc, etc, etc.

Or at least most of us do. For the past 20 years Budapest has been home to a borderless design, to Design Without Borders, an institution that has grown from a four day showcase featuring a handful of local protagonists to a six week exhibition programme presenting the work of some 200 international creatives, alongside concerts and film screenings.

Ahead of its 20th edition we met up with Szilvia Szigeti and Tamás Radnóti, instigators and curators of Design Without Borders, to discuss the past, present, future. And the hows, whos, whys……

Szilvia Szigeti and Tamás Radnóti a.k.a Design Without Borders

Dedas by Annabella Hevesi, as seen at Berlin Design Week 2024

Occasional table by Rita Koralevics from the Paper-up Collection, as seen Magyar Design, Otthon Design Budapest 2024

Components of the Bold collection by András Kerékgyártó for Brave Home, as seen at Magyar Design, Otthon Design Budapest 2024

Polc íróasztallal by Woodoo, as seen at Magyar Design, Otthon Design Budapest 2024

Otthon Design Budapest 2024

Line and Round, I O, was established in Budapest in 2017 by Annabella Hevesi, a Masters graduate from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design and Gábor Bella, a Masters graduate from the “School of Life”, with a background in carpentry and numerous years experience in a variety of construction/interior/design fields, including the creation, development and realisation of escape room games, a concept that enjoys a particular popularity in Hungary, and in which context Annabella and Gábor met and began their professional cooperation.

A cooperation that in the six years since it has been staged as Line and Round has seen Annabella and Gábor develop and realise a variety of interior and furniture design projects including, for example, the creation of a locker room and press conference space for the Sopron Basket basketball team, numerous hotel and private interior projects, and the Burnt Geometry collection, Line and Round’s first self-initiated furniture collection, and part of that presentation at the 2023 Grassimesse, Leipzig, that saw Line and Round win the inaugural smow-Designpreis, or more accurately co-win the inaugural smow-Designpreis alongside Nürnberg based glassmaker Cornelius Réer.

Following their success in Leipzig we caught up Annabella and Gábor, virtually, online, to chat about their work, approaches and the realities of life as designers in the contemporary Hungary, but began by asking how Line and Round came to be, how Line and Round liberated itself from the escape room game industry…….

Annabella Hevesi & Gábor Bella a.k.a Line and Round I O (Photo Anett Pósalaki)

Let’s be honest, it wouldn’t be smow if it followed the rules and did that which you’d expected it to.

Thus it should have come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that the inaugural Grassimesse smow-Designpreis produced not the expected one, but two, joint, co-winners: Budapest based designer Annabella Hevesi and her studio Line and Round I O and Nürnberg based glassmaker Cornelius Réer…….

smow co-founder Martina Stadler reads the laudatio for Cornelius Réer (m) Annabella Hevesi / Line and Round IO (l, represented by Gabor Bella) at the opening of the 2023 Grassimesse Leipzig

Established in Budapest in 2004 by textile designer Szilvia Szigeti and her interior designer husband Tamás Radnóti, Design Without Borders understands itself, and summarising to the point of inaccuracy, as a platform for international design dialogue across, or perhaps more accurately indifferent to, not only national borders but borders of genre, scale, approach, position et al.

By way of preparing for the platform’s forthcoming 20th birthday a showcase of projects presented, hosted, by Design Without Borders over the past two decades is being staged in context of Vienna Design Week 2023.

A presentation that allows some insights into the aforementioned understandings of itself, and also access to some reflections on the realities of contemporary design in Europe…….

Design Without Borders, Collegium Hungaricum, Vienna Design Week 2023

Stockholm Furniture Fair 2023: Say Hej! to… Cnidaria by András Kerékgyártó

A smal table in front of Cafe Központ, Budapest by Architecture Uncomfortable Workshop

As we’ve noted in the past, Hungarian architects and designers made a valuable contribution to the development of post war

November 2015 was a month of exhibitions, including Konstantin Grcic at the Grassi Museum Leipzig and Anton Corbijn at C/O

The history of furniture design has an unignorable, if subtle and background, Hungarian accent; Marcel Breuer was one of the driving forces at Bauhaus and through his work with steel tubing, moulded plywood and sheet steel he helped advance ideas of contemporary furniture design, and continues to inspire; Paul László was one of the genuine pioneers of American industrial design and contributed to George Nelson’s first Hermann Miller collection in 1948; and while Ernő Goldfinger may be best known for his brutalist architecture, and being the name giver for James Bond’s most aureate and alluring adversary, his experimental furniture works very neatly predict the development of post-modernism.

More recently Hungarian designers have had less to say, have been conspicuous by their absence on the international scene; however, as we noted in our post from the exhibition madeinhungary at Budapest Design Week 2014, that may be slowly changing.

Or rather Hungarian designer András Kerékgyártó noted that things may be slowly changing. We merely quoted him.

András Kerékgyártó Biela

Budapest Design Week 2015: Tapas - Spanish Design for Food

As many of our regular readers will be aware, we don’t like food design. We would say “we can’t stomach

……and continued over Budapest and on to Berlin – where amongst other delights we partook of the exhibitions Sensing the

Budapest Design Week 2014 Entrance Hall at Palmetta Design Gallery Vidó Nóri lunaria hangers

Established in 1998 by the artist couple Anna and István Regős as a gallery/shop in the cellar of their house

Budapest Design Week 2014 Segíto Vásárlás Design Dates Stoki Daniel Szalkai

In 2010 the spectacularly sinister sounding Hungarian Ministry of Human Capacities launched a programme to help promote products made in

Budapest Design Week 2014 Biela by András Kerékgyártó

The history of furniture design is famously also a history of experimentation, re-configuring, re-thinking and often of designers changing materials

Budapest Design Week 2014 Lola Women’s Boudoir by Helena Darbujánová

Ever since Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec released their Alcove Sofa for Vitra in 2006 ever more furniture objects have appeared

Budapest Design Week madeinhungary 2014 Cardboard Room Divider János Terbe Karton Design

Much like crisps, cardboard furniture is something with which we have a very troubled relationship. However whereas with crisps the