Young turks: IMM Cologne’s Pure Talents Contest hosts innovative forms

'Xtend' bathtub
Nineteen young designers are set to compete at IMM Cologne's Pure Talents Contest next week. Pictured: German designer Carina Deuschl's expandable and portable 'Xtend' bathtub, made from carbon fibre
(Image credit: TBC)

One of the more joyful aspects of trawling design fairs far and wide is discovering fresh young talent. At the heart of innovation, it's always those up-and-coming prospective stars that you can trust to dream up exciting new design concepts. This year, IMM Cologne is once again celebrating the names of tomorrow in their annual Pure Talents Contest: Young Design competition and exhibition.

Now in its 13th year, the initiative is hosting the work of 19 emerging global talents attempting to use new materials ecologically yet with an avant-garde focus. All of the chosen pieces test the boundaries between architecture, furniture and art with their eclectic forms from cardboard seating to sustainable kitchen concepts.

Standing out in the mix is a surprising use of unexpected materials: of note is a collapsible and portable bath in carbon fibre by German designer Carina Deuschl, which exists as a flat package before expanding into a simplistic, classic tub-shaped wire structure.

Embracing an ethos of reuse is Colombian designer Juan Cappa, whose ‘Basketlamp’ recycled pine and oak, transforming a basket into a woven lighting piece.

On the sculptural side of things, Netherlands-based Martijn Rigters's ‘Cutting Edge’ – first presented at Salone del Mobile in 2014 – utilizes specialized techniques in foam-cutting to create an abstract sofa. Intuitive shape experimentation is also seen in Oliver-Selim Boualam’s bent steel stool formed of circle and triangle shapes; meanwhile, RCA graduate Louie Rigano’s table boldly mixes corrugated fibreglass and a removable beech tray, geometrically carved to merge together.

The competition – previously named D3 Contest – will take place at IMM Cologne next week, where three winning designs will be chosen by a panel of judges including designer Stefan Diez and Wallpaper* editor-at-large Sophie Lovell.

'Two Faces'

The exhibition will showcase emerging talent from across the world in an installation of eclectic forms, from lighting to kitchen concepts. Pictured: 'Two Faces', by Philipp Grundhöfer, Germany

(Image credit: TBC)

Onda' – digitally printed tiles

All of the selected pieces test the boundaries of architecture, furniture and art. Pictured: 'Onda' – digitally printed tiles by Germany's Studio Anna Badur

(Image credit: TBC)

'Interface' table

RCA graduate Louie Rigano boldly mixes corrugated fibreglass and a removable beech tray in her 'Interface' table

(Image credit: TBC)

'Curved Chair', 'Cardboard Stool'

Pictured left: 'Curved Chair', by Nina Cho, South Korea/USA. Right: 'Cardboard Stool', by Luisa Kahlfeldt, Germany

(Image credit: TBC)

'La Cuisine'

The sustainability focused 'La Cuisine', by Russia's Daria Ayvazova, minimises the waste of essential and precious resources like water and food

(Image credit: TBC)


'Rodular', by James Shaw, UK

(Image credit: TBC)

'Filter Cabinet', 'Barstool Bender'

Pictured left: 'Filter Cabinet', by Therése Hallberg, Sweden. Right: 'Barstool Bender', by Markus Marschall, Germany

(Image credit: TBC)

'Random non random', 'Work Shift'

Pictured left: 'Random non random', by Ruben Beckers, Germany. Right: 'Work Shift', by Lena Plaschke, Germany

(Image credit: TBC)


Colombian designer Juan Cappa's ‘Basketlamp’ reuses pine and oak by transforming a basket into a woven lighting piece

(Image credit: TBC)

‘Cutting Edge’ sofa

Martijn Rigters' abstract ‘Cutting Edge’ sofa was made using a specialised foam cutting technique

(Image credit: TBC)

'Dancers', 'Phare'

Pictured left: 'Dancers', by Aurelie Hoegy, France. Right: 'Phare' portable lamp, by Stanisław Czarnocki, Poland

(Image credit: TBC)


'Viiva', by Brazil's Nathalia Mussi Weidlich (a collaboration between Aalto University and Airam Electric), was shown at Helsinki Design Week last year

(Image credit: TBC)

'As High As Best', 'Two'

Pictured left: 'As High As Best', by Lukas Marstaller and Oliver-Selim Boualam (of Butternutten AG), Germany. Right: 'Two', by Oliver-Selim Boualam, Germany

(Image credit: TBC)


For more information, visit IMM Cologne's website

Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.