Munich Musings and the iF Design Awards 2014

There is no other place, this time of the year that I’d like to be other than Munich. The pride of Bavaria played host to the 2014 iF Design Awards Ceremony. As media partners, YD was at the event, covering the Awards Night & Gala. We (Nancy Wang and I) got to see and meet some interesting people. Stefan Diez, Claus Potthoff, Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby, Ralph Wiegmann, BMW Welt … ring a bell?

Thankfully Munich was a warmer city this year, with temperatures steady at 9 degrees Celsius, we didn’t have to layer up too much (last year it was around -10 C). Day 1 was all about visiting the BMW Welt and getting acquainted with the Museum. Two main things to report back from here: the BMW Concept Cars that are hidden from the spotlight. We had exclusive access to this area and got up close with the Gina. The other area of interest was an introduction to the BMW i3 City Car.

We had a one-on-one session with the head designer, Jacob Benoit, who told us all about this Mega City Car. Some of the details like a pure carbon roof and plants (material) used on door panels impressed us very much. Did you know that the front and back door open from the central point and the middle divider is completely removed? So, when you open both the doors together, it gives you such a sense of space! Zaha Hadid has designed an exclusive factory space for the manufacturing of i3 and i8 cars! Too bad that 35,000 Euros is out of our budget!

The next stop for the day was the Neue Werkstätten, where we met with Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby. They were brought in by Knoll to discuss the collaboration on the Lounge Collection. Many of us associate Knoll with office furniture only, so this new sofa collection comes as a pleasant surprise. What stand out is the modular legs of the sofa; they are designed to fit in a modular fashion and compliment the body very well.

The evening rounded up with dinner with CEO of the iF Design Awards, Ralph Wiegmann. Dinner discussions included an in-depth view on watches, especially the beautiful Panerai he wore. What impressed us were his views on value, he still treasures his humble Swatch (gifted by his father) over the most expensive watch in his collection. Sweet!

Day two began with an elaborate visit to Munich’s very own Furniture Designer – Stefan Diez. We love him, period! His is the kind of place where every one is welcome; the studio has a warm homely atmosphere. We spoke a lot on how the current generation of students are not as dedicated and focused on their craft and have too many distractions to cope with. Yes, Stefan is a teacher as well and feels that 90% of the students are not committed and only 10% are above the bar. His association with Rosenthal is legendary. His main forte has been working with glass, ceramics, steel and plastic. He is constantly inspired by the car industry; we guess the proximity to BMW, Audi and Mercedes may have something to do with it.

What caught our fancy was this sideboard – storage project that he was working on for Hayes. It was light and super-super thin. He has done away with the hinges and instead used plastic. Interestingly, the material used is the same as Tupperware; it is very durable and tough. Not a great fan of MakerBot and other instant 3D printers, Stefan relies on the expertise of his trusted printers with the real deal. His word of advice is not to get involved in many projects at one go (he works on only 10 at a time) and keep questioning if the company you are collaborating with is investing the right way, are they moving in the right direction?

Post lunch we moved to the International Design Museum where we caught up with Claus Potthoff, Head of Design Strategy AUDI AG to view the Audi Wall. Audi has commissioned this very impressive installation using 1800 cars on the wall, milled in metal (aluminum), and each car weighs one kilo! A towering Audi in white hangs vertical on the wall. Still reeling under the magnitude of this installation, we walked passed curated design products from the early days to the new-age product design.

A quick change and our latest 7-series BMW drove us to the BMW Welt for the iF Design Awards Night and Gala. The red carpet welcomed designers from across the globe. This year marks the 61st year of the iF Awards. A total of 75 iF Gold Awards were handed out to ecstatic designers from across the globe.

A total of 4,615 entries were received and 1,626 were awarded the iF Label (Product Design, Communication Design and Packaging Design). A new introduction this year is the iF Design App (get it here), you can view all the award-winning entries in a stunning digital format. Two things warmed our hearts: watching the designers pose like crazy in front of the iF Design Winner’s Wall and dance like crazy at the after-awards party! Aww, designers you’re the best!

We got to our hotel early (3:00 am) because we needed to head to Hamburg in the morning. Why? Because the award-winning entries were on display at the iF Design Exhibition at the Harbor City. The Communication Design winners were displayed in a digital format, however the Product Design and Packaging Design winners will be showcased in three shows. It was nice to have a visual connect with the award winning products.

This just about wraps up our three-day stay in Germany! Met great people from across the globe, connected with a lot of designs that we saw and overall enjoyed watching the hard work of our beloved designers get its due recognition. As they say in Germany, bis wir uns nächste!