Whether you’re looking for slick one-offs to furnish your Kreuzberg altbau, or have a thing for creatives who know their way around Auto CAD, the DMY International Design Festival’s central exhibition at Berlin’s Tempelhof airport, will be epicentre for design types until June 10.
Spread across four of the former airport’s gigantic hanger spaces, the western end houses most of the independent design firms’ stands and, at least on opening night yesterday evening, attracted a lot of the action (read: designer networking, schmoozing, beer drinking and Tischlaufen tournaments).
In the DMY International Design Festival’s 10-year history, this is the third consecutive year that Tempelhof has hosted the central exhibition, and for the first time this year visitors can view the nominees for the 2012 German Design Prize (the winners aren’t announced for a few months yet). It’s worth picking up an exhibition catalogue or at least sussing out the curated group exhibitions and various design competition nominees before tackling the show. The festival’s judging panel has already earmarked 10 nominees for the 2012 DMY Award – these aren’t highlighted on their respective stands – and include the blue foam Imagination Playground by architect David Rockwell (designed for children, but utterly appealing to grown-ups), and Joland van der Wiel’s Gravity Stool which uses magnetic fields to create freaky, organic forms. Vienna design studio Chmara.Rosinke’s mobile kitchen and dining cart is a great example of many exhibitors’ concern with sustainable living solutions for collective interactivity.
The "Instant Stories" exhibit, curated for Milan’s Salone del Mobile in April by local designers Werner Aisslinger, Fabien Dumas and DMY Berlin, provides a who’s who of Berlin product and industrial design. Each designer was allocated a crate space to present their project and story within a still-life scenario.
"Connecting Concepts", a travelling exhibition from The Netherlands, addresses the notion of Dutch design as a recognizable style, and aims to initiate a dialogue with its host’s design culture. The curated exhibition showcases new materials and production techniques, such as denim label Gluejeans’ use of glue instead of conventional cotton stitching and rivets, and Tjeerd Veenhoven’s DIY model for building a low-cost carbon fibre bike frame from old, discarded parts.
Furniture and product design dominates the field of independent designers, studios and institutions exhibiting at the event. For many independent designers, such as locals Sigurd Larson, Stiks’ Joachim Frost, and Robert Hoffman (sharing a stand with Hamburg designer Markus Krauss), the DMY exhibition provides the opportunity to show prototypes and network with peers, as well as – ideally – making sales. While somewhat overwhelming for a first-time design show visitor, the event at Tempelhof is still a lot more low-key and casual compared to Milan’s annual furniture fair. However, if you’re struck down with design overload – or "gallery backache" after three hours on your feet – the bar and dining area in the central hall provides some respite (alternatively, just go straight for retail therapy at concept store Voo’s stand at the main entrance).
Text by Megan Gannon