Exploring the Pure Talents Contest at IMM Cologne is an opportunity to discover up-and-coming designers who possess fresh outlooks and creativity. This year, three proposals in particular grabbed our attention for their future-oriented commentary on sustainability, consumption and inclusion.
Rebrush by Jingbei Zheng
To some, washing the dishes is a tedious task, while others find something peaceful and meditative about it. It’s safe to say both camps would enjoy the process a little more if wielding Jingbei Zheng’s kit of cleaning brushes. From her Sweden-based studio, which she founded in 2017 while studying at Lund University, Zheng conceived her jewel-like Rebrush instruments with the intention of reducing the environmental impact of product waste – the elegant brushed-brass handles are a beautiful and sustainable alternative to plastic. Exploiting the elastic nature of brass, Zheng crafted them with simple hook and clip closures that are squeezed together after puncturing the loofah sponges.
Only the loofah needs to be discarded and replaced, minimizing the ecological footprint. Zheng’s Rebrush was awarded a special mention by the Pure Talents jury in the Living Kitchen section, with juror Sebastian Herkner noting that “we talk a lot about plastic in the oceans; we have to find natural solutions like Rebrush as a replacement.”
Elder Knife by Johan Viladrich
A sleek and deceptively simple design, Johan Viladrich’s Elder knife deviates from the institutional-looking approach to everyday utensils by offering a more attractive but still functional object for the elderly and people with disabilities. Born after extensive research into the properties of steel, the knife underwent a series of forging and tempering processes that eventually saw the form reduced to two base elements – a blade and a handle.
Viladrich, who studied at Design Academy Eindhoven and works out of his studio in Rotterdam, gave careful consideration into the resultant shape, which allows for users to be seated, gives them a stronger grip and positions the wrist at a more comfortable angle to increase cutting strength. The knife is part of a concept series of three that also includes a stainless steel shoehorn with elongated handle and an indoor walker made from curved aluminum tubing.
The Conscious Unconsciousness by Michael Varga
Subtitled Design Against Overconsumption, Michael Varga’s proposal is a playful commentary on a serious subject, specifically the overuse of water, light and other resources. The three-fold project questions our often unconscious daily habits through forced interaction: A wooden clothes hanger throws its garment on the floor after a period of time in which it has not been worn, a faucet with an inflatable ball handle only dispenses a predetermined amount of water and a palm-sized light switch encourages people to turn it off when they leave the room. Varga, who lives in Stuttgart and attended the city’s State Academy of Fine Arts, was given a special mention for future-oriented designs by the Pure Talents jury.