Hannover, Germany. A new DOMOTEX initiative is taking shape, with five young design studios illuminating the future of flooring design. Hanne Willmann from Germany, Bilge Nur Saltik from Turkey/the UK, Klaas Kuiken from the Netherlands, Victoria Wilmotte from France and the duo of Jane Briggs and Christy Cole from Scotland give insight into their work processes and explain what they are trying to achieve.
The kick-off meeting for the "Young Designer Trendtable" took place in July at the studio of mentor and designer Stefan Diez in Munich. Since then, the participants have been busy researching, experimenting and working away to identify emerging trends for the flooring industry, and to lend them fresh impetus. In January 2017, visitors to DOMOTEX will be able to see the exciting results for themselves, and will have a chance to quiz the designers in person in the course of a panel discussion.
The new "Young Designer Trendtable" is part of the popular Innovations@DOMOTEX showcase to be staged for the fourth consecutive season at DOMOTEX 2017. Exhibitors are invited to submit their latest new products beforehand, and those selected by a jury of experts will be featured in a series of special displays. The "Trendtable" adds a new, futuristic dimension to Innovations@DOMOTEX.
Innovative materials, unusual techniques – how the five designers approach their work, in their own words:
Hanne Willmann, Germany:
Celebrating craft traditions and creating authenticity for today
"Much of today's flooring design is about imitation. Why not go back to being authentic and taking pleasure in what has already been created? My grandfather came to Germany in 1953 and established a carpet and parquet flooring business, which he passed on to his sons. This personal and family connection, steeped in tradition, gave me an insight into the whole process of production: the unrolling of linoleum, the piecing together of parquet floors, and the many hours of sandblasting and polishing. By drawing attention to existing techniques, I hope to foster a new appreciation of these traditional craft skills. I would like to experiment: with dyes, interactive techniques, design, materials, tools and processes – without losing sight of the true character and beauty of craft skills. Drawing inspiration from how something is actually made, I want to develop a new authenticity, and celebrate the practical business of designing floors."
Bilge Nur Saltik, Turkey and the UK:
Hard and soft, industrial and artisanal – playing with contrasts
The floor coverings industry offers a wealth of different materials, but none of the manufacturers caters for combinations of materials. Furthermore, nearly all existing flooring solutions are permanent, and involve the use of adhesives of one sort or another. I have looked at this from many different angles, and have combined techniques drawn from all sorts of different areas, in order to create flexible and tactile solutions for the floor. I am particularly interested in combining hard and soft materials to create surfaces that feel different at different points. I am working on the idea of the unexpected, thinking outside the box, and focusing on unusual combinations of very different materials. My aim is to bring together industrial and artisanal fastening techniques, to create a unique tactile experience based on unusual combinations that do not require the use of permanent adhesives at all. This concept could provide a solution for spaces that are used on a temporary basis, as my designs are intended for easy installation – both indoors and outdoors."
Klaas Kuiken, Netherlands: a floor is defined by its user
"We want to discover things and follow them up: it's all about showing that a floor is basically defined by space and interaction. Most of the time we don't even notice that our living spaces have amazing stories to tell, and that they are the silent witnesses of our everyday activity; these are the stories that we want to discover. We are also interested in changing the way we view a space: public areas are frequently marked out with all kinds of signs, but we believe that it is the visitors, rather than the symbols, that define a space.
By uncovering the ways in which a space is used, we allow these signs to emerge organically. So all the different meanings of a space are gradually revealed, and it tells us a story – not through signs, but through its usage. You can only influence this up to a certain point; the rest is up to the other players. We believe in unique structures that define a space and its occupants."
Victoria Wilmotte from France: "Mineralartificial Walking"
"The principal message of my project will be to present a natural material in a way that it has never been shown before. I have chosen this theme because I feel very drawn to stone and marble. It is a commonly used material, which I use in my own work as a designer. But I have never applied it to the floor, and I find it very interesting to ignore the material's normal areas of application, which are generally very traditional. I shall try to present stone and marble in a different way – I'd like to change the direction and the normal way it is used."
Jane Briggs and Christy Cole (Briggs & Cole), Scotland:
"Merzing" – rethinking contemporary and site-specific spaces
"What drives our work is the continuous reformulation of ideas about contemporary and site-specific spaces. We were inspired by Kurt Schwitters'1) 'Merzbau' (1927-37), which he created in the studio of his family home in Hannover. As designers who work with collage, we have taken up the term 'Merz' invented by Schwitters, and applied both the location and the way of seeing inherent in the concept to the site-specific floor plan for DOMOTEX in Hannover.
The spatial dimension of our installation is not defined by walls. Instead we place the visitor in a context of individual spatial coordinates that radiate from an imaginary center. The collage of images and the diagonal movement on the floor are based on descriptions of the objects that covered the invisible floors and surfaces of Schwitters' 'Merzbau'.
What interests us is how material is defined, and how new values are attributed to it as time goes by. Our main interest lies in reproducing the development of the 'Merzbau' as the 'gradual opening-up of a space', out of which, inside a family home, zones for 'living' and zones for 'art' can unfold."
1) "Kurt Schwitters is one of the outstanding figures of the Dada movement. Although he was very much his own man in artistic terms all his life, and was not accepted without qualification by many of his colleagues in the art world, Schwitters played an important part in the establishment of a number of small Dada groups. Despite this, he was not invited to join the Dada Club in Hannover, to which he had lent his active support as an artist. Schwitters' passion was the business of creating 'Merz', and this makes him unique as an artist. 'Merz' is not just a name or a category for Schwitters, serving to classify his works. For Schwitters, 'Merz' is rather the expression of his life. Schwitters viewed his life as a 'Gesamtkunstwerk' - a total work of art: life and art inextricably combined, the entire content of his life subsumed under his motto 'Merz'." (German source: http://www.kunst-zeiten.de/Kurt_Schwitters-Werk )