Milan Design Week — BE OPEN Young Talent Award

Curated with Roberto Zancan

Awards ceremony with presentation of designer trophies


Expo Hall, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Festa del Perdono 7

Monday, April 7th, 6pm

In the presence of the jury

Shay Alkalay (Raw Edges), Giulio Cappellini (art director of Cappellini), Giorgio Galli (design director of Timex Group), Sofia Lagerkvist (Front), Jay Osgerby (Barber & Osgerby).


Shortlisted candidates

Elie Ahovi (France), Anton Alvarez (Chile), Benjamin Graindorge (France), Philippe Malouin (Canada), Kwangho Lee (South Korea), Humans since 1982 (Sweden), Studio mischer’traxler (Austria), Daniel Rybakken (Norway), Dennis Parren (Netherlands) and Yuri Suzuki (Japan).

leading, international design industry jury has selected ten candidates from a long list of forty to compete for the world’s newest design prize, the BE OPEN Young Talent Award.  Since the essence of this project is to promote and integrate young designers into the working world, the jury is comprised of industry professionals who can support the winners in their career development.  Whilst the three designers on the jury can bring their experience of career development to the winner, Cappellini, in his role of art director, is continually talent spotting and matching designers to projects, whilst Galli brings corporate experience to selecting and mentoring designers.

The Young Talent Award is part of BE OPEN’s Inside the Academy strand, their innovative approach to supporting creative education from study through to professional practice, through an awards scheme, a master class program and a ranking system. The award is an annual grant of €24,000 to support one designer a year’s day-to-day living expenses, helping them develop their work at this critical early stage in their career.

Described as an ‘incubator for young talent’, seeking out designers who have only recently completed their studies and are making their first steps in a design career, the award will allow the winner to continue to work at their own pace, experiment with both practical and conceptual projects and discuss their ideas for production with key contacts supplied by the BE OPEN community, including manufacturers, laboratories, industry professionals, experts and mentors.

Founder of BE OPEN, Elena Baturina, says: “Most design prizes are created to celebrate a career.  BE OPEN’s Young Talent Award is about championing tomorrow’s creative leaders, seeking out and incubating new talent. Our aim is to showcase brilliant young designers and integrate them into the working world, bringing their thinking to life.  We want this award to become a reference point in the career of every ambitious young designer and to enliven the debate around the quality and potential of contemporary design“.

Three winners will be selected: the main award recipient, the Elena Baturina prizewinner – a candidate chosen from the shortlist by BE OPEN’s founder – and the Web Choice, for which the public can vote online until 17 May 2014.  The YTA winner and Elena Baturina award winner will be announced at a presentation ceremony on 7 April 2014 at Milan’s Università Statale as part of Interni’s exhibition, during the FuoriSalone.  A series of exclusive prizewinner trophies, designed on the theme of the egg, to symbolise emerging talent about to hatch, are being created by three of the jury members.  Barber & Osgerby, as the most established of the designers on the jury, are creating the main award in the form of an egg-shaped bronze shaft; all-women practice Front is designing the Elena Baturina award in the form of a dinosaur egg; and the Web Choice award, a wooden egg in an ironic trophy style eggcup, is being designed by youngest practice on the jury, Raw Edges.  The trophies will all be on view at the awards ceremony.

The focus for this year’s award is industrial design, with its remit to improve on functionality and form. The following are being considered for the award:

Elie Ahovi (France), Anton Alvarez (Chile), Benjamin Graindorge (France), Philippe Malouin (Canada), Kwangho Lee (South Korea), Humans since 1982 (Sweden), Studio mischer’traxler (Austria), Daniel Rybakken (Norway), Dennis Parren (Netherlands) and Yuri Suzuki (Japan).

Work by the shortlisted designers, as well as biographical footage, will be revealed through an ingeniousinstallation of around one hundred birdcages, in different shapes and sizes, some old, some new, suspended in the cloister of Università degli Studi di Milano.  Half of them will contain screens showcasing the designers and their work.  The birdcage format is being used to highlight the contrast between the freedom of creativity and the limitations of the real world.  Here the doors to the cages will be left open to show that BE OPEN’s Young Talent Award helps unleash creativity, removing some of the constraints of day-to-day living for promising, young designers.

The general public is now invited to take part in the awards process, voting for a people’s choice winner before the closing date of 17 May 2014, by liking them on BE OPEN’s facebook page   BE OPEN will announce a winner based on the overall level of social media activity for each candidate.


Address for the awards ceremony and exhibition:

Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Festa del Perdono 7

Long list candidates

5.5 Design Studio  (France), Joao Abreu Valente (Portugal), Sherry An (USA), Elie Ahovi (France), Anton Alvarez (Chile), Bombay Atelier (India), Maarten de Caulaer (Belgium), Pablo Carrascal (Spain), Spalvieri Del Ciotto (Italy), Andile Dyalvane (South Africa), Cheng-Tsung Feng (Taiwan), Benjamin Graindorge (France), Sebastian Herkner (Germany), Humans since 1982 (Sweden), Hikaru Imamura (Japan), Dan Ipp (USA), Lucie Koldova (Czech Republic), Sanghyeok Lee (South Korea), Kwangho Lee (South Korea), Johan Lindstén (Sweden), Philippe Malouin (Canada), Sérgio J. Matos (Brazil), Studio mischer’traxler (Austria), Jingjing Naihan Li (China), NoSigner (Japan), Oeuffice (Lebanon), Dennis Parren (Netherlands), Amaury Poudray (France), Daniel Rybakken (Norway), Brian Sironi (Italy), Smarthwoodhouse (China), Yuri Suzuki (Japan), Yael Tandler (Israel), Rami Tareef (Israel), Tsai & Fanchiang (Taiwan), Lina Vuorivirta (Finland), Wiid Design (South Africa), Matteo Zorzenoni (Italy), Leonardo Talarico (Italy), Lanzavecchia + Wai (Italy-Singapore)

BE OPEN is a global initiative to foster creativity and innovation, a think tank whose mission is to promote people and ideas today to build solutions for tomorrow. It is a cultural and social initiative supported by the Russian philanthropist, businesswoman and entrepreneur Elena Baturina, behind who stands an international team.

The foundation was launched in April 2012 during Milan Design Week, with the goal of becoming a bridge between the great minds of our time — philosophers, sociologists, designers, architects, artists, writers, businessmen and opinion leaders — and the promising new minds of the younger generation.

Founder Elena Baturina says: “We engage with people across all platforms – the arts, science, education and the media – as we believe that the most innovative discoveries are made where these disciplines meet.”

BE OPEN is developing its work through exhibitions, events and panel discussions in the world’s design capitals, including, to date, Milan, Basel, London and Miami. The Foundation has also launched the Inside the Academy programme, an extensive educational platform offering support to young creatives, students, schools and universities through an awards scheme, a master class program and a ranking system.  Open calls for submissions, a strong social media and web presence and ongoing research will build the Foundation‘s network, an essential tool in helping find the talented individuals and idea that can create solutions for tomorrow.

Elena Baturina says: “Education is an essential part of what we become as people and as citizens.  Choosing the right way to develop one’s talent is crucial and, too often, young people are left with no support to develop their potential.  BE OPEN’s aim is to become a partner for students and institutions, to bridge the gap between education and career and accompany young, talented individuals towards a bright future”.

Elena Baturina will make one award to a candidate from the Young Talent Award shortlist, applying her vision as one of the world’s leading businesswomen. A long-time philanthropist, Baturina has always been involved in charities that prioritise people and their ideas.  At the core of her interest there is a deep hope to see the world become a better place by investing in the next generation. In 2012 she set up BE OPEN, a nomadic foundation that travels the world, fostering creativity and innovation through exhibitions, talks and events, with inspirational, future-oriented design as a core theme.

Jury biographies

Jay Osgerby

Internationally acclaimed designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby founded their eponymous studio in 1996 after graduating with Master’s degrees in Architecture from The Royal College of Art, London. The pair has lectured internationally and their work is held in permanent collections around the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; London’s Design Museum; and the Art Institute of Chicago.  Significant recent projects include the Tip Ton chair for Vitra (2011), the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Torches, and a Ј2 coin commemorating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground in 2013.

Barber & Osgerby have designed the main award for the YTA this year.

Sofia Lagerkvist

Sofia Lagerkvist is one third of the all-female design practice Front. A well-established name on the design scene, they have created products for leading brands and galleries worldwide.  Front’s works are based on the everyday and often communicate a story about design and products in our daily life. Collaboration is an important part of their work. They have, for example, worked with robot engineers, chainsaw sculptors, magicians, glass blowers, electro engineers, snakes and pyrotechnicians, amongst many others.

Front has designed the Elena Baturina award this year.

Shay Alkalay of Raw-Edges Design Studio

Raw-Edges is a London-based design studio founded by Israeli designers Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay. Since their graduation show at the Royal College of Art in 2006, they have received several highly respected awards including: The British Council Talented Award; iF Gold Award; Dutch Design Award; Wallpaper* Design Award 2009; and the Elle Decoration International Design Award for furniture 2008/09.  In 2009 they were named Designer of the Future at Design Miami/ Basel. Their works have been exhibited internationally and can be found in the permanent collection of MoMA, New York and other museums.

Raw Edges is designing this year’s People’s Choice award.

Giulio Cappellini

Named one of the ten most important trendsetters in the world by Time Magazine, Giulio Cappellini (b 1954) is an architect and art director, but is perhaps best known as a talent scout for international design. His name is synonymous with furniture and objects that are both beautiful and practical, realized by himself and by a portfolio of international designers. Cappellini products are held in key collections around the world, including: MOMA, New York; MOMA, San Francisco; the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; the Museum Fur Angewandte Kunst, Cologne; The V&A Museum, London; the Centre George Pompidou, Paris; the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Rome.

Giorgio Galli

Giorgio Galli’s 20 years of success can be attributed to his passion for graphics and design, a strong ability to create identity and develop image enhancement projects and a strong understanding of technology.  Giorgio’s career began in the United States with Lucasfilm in San Francisco, where he learnt a new technological approach to graphic design and branding.  He then became art director of the Swatch Lab in Milan, personally designing hundreds of watches that quickly achieved recognition and awareness in the marketplace, helping to create the Swatch prodigy in the early 1990’s.  Year after year, Giorgio developed a unique expertise and soon he created his own company, initially founded with the 21 Investimenti.

Shortlisted candidates

Anton Alvarez   

Alvarez is a Swedish-Chilean designer based in London and Stockholm. He graduated in Product Design from the Royal College of Art.  He studied fine art and cabinet making before completing an Interior Architecture and Furniture Design course at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Craft and Design in Stockholm.  Alvarez’s work focuses “on the design of systems and the creation of tools and processes for producing products”. Anton is attracted by post-industrial culture and do-it-yourself techniques. He creates mechanisms that “join different types of material with glue-coated thread, binding the objects together without any nails or screws”.  His projects have been exhibited at the Design Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Design Miami/ Basel, Art Brussels and Salone del Mobile.

Elie Ahovi   

Ahovi’s overriding philosophy is: “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” (Albert Einstein). A graduate of the International School of Design of Valencienne and the ICAM School of Engineering, Ahovi has worked with high tech companies such as Microsoft, Xbox, Dell, Salomon and Oxylane.  He is passionate about “big cities, boomboxes and pancakes”, as well as technologies that can be used in futuristic projects such as a marine drone to deal with plastic rubbish that collects in the sea, low energy washing machines and game boxes. In all these projects Ahovi “tries to apply an industrial design method based on users, developing powerful tools to answer different challenges”. He currently works at studio MINIMAL, Inc., Chicago.

Benjamin Graindorge  

Graindorge is recognized as one of France’s most important emerging designers. He graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle – les Ateliers in Paris, before taking up a residency at the villa in Kyoto Kujoyama. His approach is a subtle fusion of technological abstraction, poetry and minimalism: some of his objects “carry the essence of light with grace and elegance”, others offer “a moment of perfect truth”, with objects that range from industrial design to decorative objects.  Graindorge has been selected for the Design Parade festival and has won the Cinna Award and the Audi Talents Awards for design.  He collaborated with François Bauchet on the scenography for the Biennale Internationale du Design de Saint-Etienne 2010. In 2011 he had his first solo exhibition at the prestigious YMER & MALTA gallery.

Humans since 1982 

Emanuelsson and Bischoff are the co-founders of Humans since 1982.  Both born in 1982, they are interested in interest itself and want to arouse curiosity by creating material hints of how the world might be.  They founded their studio in 2008 whilst taking their Masters at the School of Design and Crafts (HDK) Gothenburg. Prior to this, Emanuelsson completed a Master of Science at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Bischoff studied Communication Design at HTWG in Konstanz, Germany.

Kwangho Lee

Kwangho Lee was born in 1981 in Seoul. He majored in Metal Art & Design at Hongik University and graduated in February 2007. As a child, Lee remembers watching his grandfather making all sorts of tools out of things he found in and around the house and nearby woods. The house was full of his grandfather’s handcrafted inventions, and this became the inspiration for Lee’s future work as an artist and designer: he began to find, look at and approach things in the way his grandfather would have done, giving new meaning and function to everyday objects and materials.  Lee was nominated Designer of the Future at Design Miami/Basel in 2009.  He was also selected as Artist of the Year 2011 by the Korean Ministry of Culture. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and his work has been featured in many major design publications worldwide.

Philippe Malouin

Philippe Malouin graduated with a BA in Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven and also studied at the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris and the University of Montreal.  He now teaches platform 18 alongside Sarah van Gameren at the Royal College of Arts. Malouin lives and works in London.  After a period with British designer Tom Dixon, Malouin set up POST-OFFICE in 2009, an architectural and interiors design practice. His diverse portfolio includes tables, rugs, chairs, lights, art objects and installations. Recently Philippe won the W Hotels ‘Designer of the Future’ Award and the Wallpaper ‘Best Use of Material’ Award.   Philippe’s work perfectly expresses today’s cosmopolitan attitude to design.  He experiments with everyday materials, such as MDF, hemlock wood and PVC. His projects translate local (China, Canada, Europe) and cultural (Brutalism, Niemeyer’s architecture, etc.) references into objects that have multiple interpretations. 

Studio mischertraxler  

Katharina Mischer (1982) and Thomas Traxler (1981), based in Vienna, develop and design products, furniture, installations and more, with a focus on experimentation, context and conceptual thinking.  Working at the interface of craft and technology, they envision whole systems, processes and new production methods that focus on sustainability and the 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 Results often make use of unexpected materials and are often characterized by external inputs, for example the condition of the weather or the usage of the existing. Their work won the Austrian Experimental Design Award 2009, the DMY Award 2009 and was shortlisted for the Brit Insurance Designs of the year 2010 Award. Exhibitions on contemporary Design displayed their projects in Museums including the Boijmans van Boiningen, the Design Museum London and the Triennale Milano, as well as on International Festivals. 

Daniel Rybakken

Born in 1984, Daniel Rybakken grew up in Oslo, Norway. He studied design at the Oslo School of Architecture and the School of Arts & Crafts in Gothenburg, Sweden. On graduating with a Master of Fine Arts in 2008 he started his own practice with studios in Gothenburg and Oslo. Rybakken has received numerous awards, including the ‘Best of the Best’ Red Dot Award in Singapore in 2007; the Anders Jahre’s Cultural Prize for Young Artists in Oslo in 2008; the Design Report Award for best designer at Salone Satellite in Milan in 2009 and the Bruno Mathsson Award in 2011. Rybakken’s work occupies the area between art and design, comprising limited editions, art installations and prototypes for serial production. His main focus has been to work with daylight and how to artificially recreate its subconscious effect.

Dennis Parren

A graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, Parren says that for him “luxury is a vague concept. For me camping can be an 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.”  Parren’s nomadic experiences prompted him to combine innovative design with new technologies as a solution for our times. His interest in 3D printing and LED has given him a fresh approach to design: a design based on reaction to colours, unstable conditions and basic comfort. Parren was nominated for the Dutch Design Awards at Dutch Design Week 2012, his work has been widely published and he has developed project with the main design schools.

Yuri Suzuki

Born in Tokyo, Suzuki graduated with an MA in Product Design from the Royal College of Art and has lived in London since 2005. In 2010 he gained a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Augmented Reality from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne. Suzuki is a designer, sound artist and electronic musician who produces work that explores the realms of sound through exquisitely designed pieces. His work raises questions about the relationship between sound and people and how music and sound affect the mind. His creations are electronic apparatuses producing sounds and music, electric and digital interpretations of traditional musical instruments, music players and vinyl albums. Suzuki’s view is highly ironic. His products, some of them created in small numbers, are strangely anthropomorphic and witty. His entire work is a positive critique of the world of contemporary music. The title of one of his installations, “Make Something from Nothing”, could be considered his work’s motto. Design Associate at the Walt Disney Research, in 2013 Yuri founded Dentaku Ltd an R&D consultancy for companies such as Widen and Kennedy and KKoutlet.