Mischer’traxler Wins World’s Newest Design Prize: the BE OPEN Young Talent Award

Last night the first winner of BE OPEN’s new annual prize, the Young Talent Award, was announced at a packed awards ceremony in the Expo Hall of the Unversita Statale di Milano.

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 win €24,000 to support their living expenses for a year and a unique egg trophy designed by Barber & Osgerby.  Three, egg-inspired trophies have been created for the Awards by members of the jury, the egg symbolising nascent talent ready to hatch.

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.”

The criteria for this prize, and indeed the award itself, are unique: the selection is made on the basis of potential, rather than work achieved; the prize money supports the winner’s living expenses for a year, so that they can continue to work at their own pace, without any obligation to create new product or exhibit their work.

Founder of BE OPEN Elena Baturina said “The Young Talent Award is yet another example of how we try to see things differently and how we encourage people to look at the world with an open mind: we’re not asking for tangible results at the end of the year’s work; we’re not demanding commitment, although we’d like the winner to become an active part of our network.  We do, however, want them to keep developing their thinking; we want to glean inspiration from these talented young minds, because they are the leading minds of the future.”

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 further Web Choice award will be announced on the BE OPEN website, www.beopenfuture.com, for which the public can vote online until 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.  The Web winner’s trophy is a wooden egg in a wooden eggcup, designed by Raw Edges.

Director of BE OPEN, Gennady Terebkov, introduced the evening by thanking the jury for their invaluable involvement in the project.  Since the essence of this project is to incubate young talent, helping designers move from conceptual project making into the working world, the jury was comprised of industry professionals who could support the winners in their career development.  Special mention was also made of the jury members who created bespoke trophies for the award on the theme of the egg, which is carried through to the installation in the cloister of Milan’s Università Statale, where footage about the shortlist is being screened in birdcages, suspended from the ceiling.  The cage doors are left open to suggest that the fledgling talent that BE OPEN has selected can break free from the constraints of daily life, thanks to the financial support of the Young Talent 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).
Shay Alkalay (Raw Edges), Giulio Cappellini (art director of Cappellini), Giorgio Galli (design director of Timex Group), Sofia Lagerkvist (Front), Jay Osgerby (Barber & Osgerby).
Università degli Studi di Milano, Via Festa del Perdono 7

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”.