Studio Mischer’traxler, Austria – Main Winner

Mischer’traxler was selected from a shortlist of ten candidates, from an original long list of thirty-seven, put forward by a leading international design industry jury.  The Austrian duo won €24,000 to support their living expenses for a year and a unique egg trophy designed by Barber & Osgerby. 

The jury said of their selection “The work of the ten shortlisted candidates is of exceptional quality, but we felt that mischer’traxler’s methods best reflect the spirit of this new, important design prize. Matching experimental research and vanguard attitudes with industrial production, they clearly indicate how much further manufacturing can be developed from where it is now. Their talent for introducing creative interaction into everyday objects and humanising every aspect of design reflects their incredible ability to synthesise the future of design.”

Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, based in Vienna, develop and design products, furniture and installations with an emphasis on experimentation, context and conceptual thinking.

Working at the interface of craft and technology, they envision whole systems, processes and new production methods focused on sustainability and relevance of nature. Part of their design process is to examine, experiment, analyse and reject. This critical view often questions and affects the relation between producer, object and owner. “Why and what for” are often the main concerns before a new project comes into being, whilst “what if” allows for new interpretations and different possibilities.

Their products often make use of unexpected materials and are characterized by external influences, such as weather conditions or the re-purposing of existing materials. They work on the representation of concepts, not on the solution of functional problems. The focus is on building up the emotional impact of an object, to give it resonance for the user, rather than in perfecting the details.

Dennis  Parren, the Netherlands – Founder’s Choice

An additional prize was announced at the awards ceremony in Milan: Dennis Parren was selected as the Elena Baturina prizewinner.  He was presented with a replica dinosaur egg, the trophy created especially for the awards for the Baturina prize by Front Design.  The founder of BE OPEN had announced her intention to make a personal choice from the shortlist that reflects her belief in the business potential of the selected candidate.

Baturina said “The candidates for this award show outstanding qualities and the variety of their approaches and passion for invention is what drives me forward with BE OPEN – it is so inspiring to be surrounded by intensity of engagement, curiosity and creative free-thinking.  Denis works with light and space, the fundamental elements.  But I am also fascinated by his nomadic thematic.  I think that he has tapped into a very important trend for our time: we are all global nomads, constantly on the move and we like to carry our homes with us, to some degree, to keep a sense of comfort and familiarity with us.  So he is my choice for the award that represents the potential to evolve into a serious business proposition.”

A graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, Parren says for him “luxury is a vague concept. For me camping can be the ultimate feeling of luxury: furniture that can be folded to small lightweight pieces; something you can carry anywhere to recreate a home wherever you want. I ‘squatted’ for 7 years. During this time I had to move my belongings several times and needed furniture to behave in a certain way. This inspired me to come up with the idea of a folding couch. It combines quality of comfort and the freedom of a camping chair.”