When it comes to Berlin, everything is a bit different. Even the Design Week pursues a slightly different concept and therefore, prefers to be named International Design Festival instead. This year, the focus of attention was drawn to China and its approach to design. The main exhibition of the fifth edition of DMY Berlin was once again located in the former Airport Tempelhof; an impressive location which underlines the capital’s charm perfectly.
The majority of designers who present their works on the DMY Berlin are rather young and new in this field. Their ambitious spirit transforms the hangars of the former airport into a stage for aspiring future top designers. Universities of applied sciences, universities and design academies introduced themselves and their students. Independent designers and collectives demonstrated their hard skills by displaying their products and proved their soft skills in inspiring and manifold talks with the interested audience and the representatives of the press. Obviously, the number of artsy-fartsy installations decreased. Some of the visitors bemoaned the decline of the really lush and freaky ideas. However, the majority was happy about the exhibition’s focus on truly useful products.
The key country China represented a rather arty overall approach. Vacuum packed everyday objects lined up on the floor conveyed the feeling of being on a jumble sale and were contrasting the colourful yet traditional ideas of ‘China New Design – Revisit and Reflect’. 189 Works of 22 Designers, specialised in the fields of furniture, fashion, graphic and multimedia design offered an insight into the beginnings of the future developments of Chinese designs whilst at the same time documenting the rapid change in China’s society and lifestyle.
The overall range of products was as miscellaneous and multi-faced as the designers’ countries of origin. The German designer Kathrin Morawietz created a set of textile bowls and thereby combined classic handcraft and traditional turnery with a new and extraordinary material. The idea of the Half Chair by the Korean Woojin Chung is as simple as beautiful: the shortened seat prevents the typical shift while sitting, resulting in an overall healthier posture. Atelier Belge, a Belgian platform for aspiring designers, offered rather functional products. The majority of Atelier Belge’s works are limited editions yet, also serial products are available. One of the inconspicuous highlights of the exhibition was the wooden shelf Add-Up by Markus Krauss. The composition of colours and the flexible arrangement transform this exhibit into a great piece of furniture and a must-have for design lovers.
Even though the main focus was on the designers and their creations, workshops, parties and open talks were not less important for DMY’s visitors: people got involved by taking part in discussions and exchanging thoughts. Like in real life, it was not ‘all about work’. The fact that the well-respected design award of the German Federal Republic was awarded in the context of the design festival for the first time, increased the impression of its increasing respectability and made it even more attractive for design lovers and other visitors. This prize is being annually awarded by the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology since 1969. However, it remains questionable why this rather unspectacular exhibition charges its visitors with a notable entrance fee. Consequently, the majority of potential visitors felt deterred and even discussions with the presumptuous security staff at the entrance did not help.
The satellite exhibitions were – as usual – spread over the entire city and – also typical for Berlin – minimalistic. Corner shops here, an office there and in between some pop-up stores. During a tour throughout the city, the visitors were offered insights into the creative scope of Germany’s capital in more than 50 official as well as unofficial exhibitions and presentations. In the course of the long night of design studios, MONOQI also opened its doors in the former premises of the Dresdner Bank located in the Mollstraße 1.
Doubtlessly, the DMY in Berlin gets better every year and a short trip to the International Design Festival surely pays off. Especially, since Berlin is worth a journey anyways.
Kai Petermann lives in Berlin and covers product design from across the world in his website Stilsucht.