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Swiss Design on stage: the Design Prize Switzerland 2019/20

On November 1st I headed to Langenthal to visit the exhibition and attend the award ceremony of the Design Prize Switzerland 2019/20. 44 nominees selected from 262 entries were «on stage», charting the best in current Swiss Design.

Design Prize Switzerland, vernissage exhibition – Ph: Valeria Crescenzi
Design Prize Switzerland, vernissage exhibition – Ph: Valeria Crescenzi

The Design Prize Switzerland 2019/20 awarded this year 13 designers and companies selected through a two-phase process by a jury of specialists in the different design disciplines. 

This edition’s keywords: innovation – sustainable relevance – social impact

If I were to find a common thread, I would say that this edition of the Design Prize Switzerland focused even more on the social impact of the competing products and projects. Research and development were key for many of the nominees who showcased innovative solutions in different fields, from textile design to typography. There is no form without [social] function and this is even truer in nowadays world which calls for an interdisciplinary approach in tackling many urgent challenges.

Design Prize Switzerland, welcome greetings by Urs Stampfli, Raphael Rossel and Michel Hueter – Ph: Valeria Crescenzi
The award cermony – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli

«Design is an attitude to life»

Alfredo Häberli – Industrial designer, Design development / Jury member

My best bits from the exhibition nominees

Established magazines and publications already started publishing, or will publish, more comprehensive reports about the Design Prize Switzerland 2019/20 edition. What I want to share here with you is my personal experience and therefore the projects that caught my attention the most. In a (really) crowded Design Depot I made my way through some of the most interesting booths: some of them are part of the winners’ Palmares and some others not. Let’s start with one of the categories I am usually more involved in: FURNITURE DESIGN.

Easy Aluminium

Furniture pieces suitable both for outdoor and indoor purposes. Bench and table are entirely made out of Aluminium, a light, robust and durable material. The system Egli Studio from Renens developed, sees a component that combines and holds together the aluminium tubes used both for the top and the legs of the furniture pieces. Minimal lines, rounded forms, eye-catching color give the final touch to the pleasant aesthetics. Those pieces can be self-assembled thanks to a plug-screw connection system. Thumbs up for thinking about the recyclability and the shipping phase: each unit is planned to be shipped in flat-packaging help reducing packaging waste.

Easy Aluminium, Studio Egli – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli
Easy Aluminium, Studio Egli – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli

Velum Business Lounge Program

A modular room-creating system designed for open offices. The system, developed together by Atelier Oï and manufacture Girsberger, is composed by a vertical panel covered in textile and a seating section. The two items can be combined in multiple ways enabling flexible zoning in a room. Elegant and curated, this system is framed in solid oak wood that confers to the whole system a warm and welcoming style. Although this is not a super innovative system, I think Velum contributes to a branch of furniture design that is particularly en vogue now. Office life is transforming and workspaces need to adapt to new needs and to be more flexible than ever.

Velum Business Lounge Program, Atelier Oï + Girsberger – Pht: Giovanni Comparelli
Velum Business Lounge Program, Atelier Oï + Girsberger – Pht: Giovanni Comparelli

Caru Smart Sensor

Caru is a communication system for people experiencing some kind of limitations (age/illness) and are in need for a higher standard of safety. They can interact with the device that collects useful data being able to detect deviations from the regular behaviour or environment conditions. Thumbs up for using the current technology to create a useful safety and security system and for developing a discreet and pleasant external appearance.

Caru Smart Sensor, Caru AG – Pg: Giovanni Comparelli
Caru Smart Sensor, Caru AG – Pg: Giovanni Comparelli

Rado Star Prize Switzerland for Young talents

This category includes professionals from all design institutes who have completed a course in Design or in a design-related subject within the last three years.

Hot wire extensions

A new kind of production process developed over 4 years of research by London-based Studio ilio. It allows creating objects, lighting fixtures, and furniture and is based on the reuse of nylon powder (a material that couldn’t be recycled until now). Here is how the process works: everything starts within a square-shaped container where an initial shape is defined from thin nichrome wire. Then the container is filled with a mixture of used nylon powder and silicon sand that, thanks to electric current, reaches up a temperature of 300°. The powder-shaped mixture, stimulated by electricity, accumulates around the wire structure and melts into a permanently solid, bone-type compound. The longer the electricity flows through the wire the ticker solids become. I find that this project really blends technology with experimentation in a playful way.

Studio ilio – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli
Studio ilio – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli

Textile Design – Bananatex® by QWSTION

Sustainability, ecologically responsible production, technological research. Those are the three main pillars on which the Swiss brand QWSTION developed its bags. The label developed the first technical fabric entirely made of banana fibers. This fabric is light and flexible and it’s coated with bees’ wax to make it water-resistant. At QWSTION (about which I already had the pleasure to tell something here) they developed a collection of Bananatex® bags that allows multiple carrying options. Thumbs up for creating a sustainable solution for the textile industry.

Bananatex by QWSTION® – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli
Bananatex by QWSTION® – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli

Swiss Textiles Prize – SwissFlax GmbH

From raw flax to textile thread. In the Emmental region, SwissFlax GmbH buys flax raws from farmers and organizes the entire downstream process. It creates a local textile production chain aimed at reducing the negative consequences of globalization in the textile industry.

SwissFlax GmbH – Ph: Giovanni Comparelli

Winners list can be found on the official website of the Design Prize Switzerland 19/20.

To read more about design events and fairs I took part in head over here.

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