Friday, April 27, 2007

Comics Anyone?

I admit that I was never a comic manic, although I wanted to be. I was never too excited about superheros, but I like the halftone patterns made by ink roughly applied on a cheap paper stock, and word bubbles, gods gift to the visual medium. It was a love/hate relationship, magnetizing to the graphics, repelling the storylines.

But I'm in luck. Comics are growing a big part in my life lately. I've discovered Chris Ware. The first I heard of the American cartoon artist was from a radio show in the US, in which he was interviewed. Divulging the secret that he always thought he would become a superhero when he grew up. I picked up a copy of Acme nr.3 One of the few comics of his that aren't sold out, and started reading.

The comics have funny, but noticably adult story lines. Jimmy Corrigan, my personal favorite of his characters is a little boy with a disfunctional family. It is displayed so professionally, and properly in a early 1900 style, and the adult jokes are hidden inside the wordy prose. The comics are incredibly well written, sarcastic, and clever, never over the top. Don't hesititate to read a full page of tiny 2-point type by Ware. It's worth the eye strain.

From a visual standpoint, the drawings are just as impeccable as the writing is. I was intrigued by the wallpaper-esque pattern on the cover of the comic, and was not disappointed by the inside. Beautiful line work, architectural drawings, and crisp hand-drawn titling. The work feels more like a piece of art than a comic book. I have considered dismantling mine, framing it, and hanging it on the wall, but I can't help but think that Ware's comics are going to be worth a lot of money someday. I'll be snapping up as many of them as possible in the future

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Lego's for Life

Have you ever built a city? constructed a home, or a functioning vehicle? Most people have nowadays thanks to legos. Okay, not the Grand scale you may have been thinking of, but it's true. Legos have been shaping childhood for decades now. I think it is even safe to say that most everyone in the western world has run into Legos at some point within their lifespan. Chances are you remember building something grandiose with the small plastic blocks.

But you also remember those dilemmas: Wanting to build a red building, but running out of red blocks before the first wall was finished; Needing one three "pronged" piece, and digging through the lego bucket to find it; trying to build a custom car, or boat, or spaceship, but being limited to the pieces in the lego model kits; simply put, having dreams much bigger than could be contained in a simple bucket of legos.

I have just found the jackpot for all those lego-saavy builders piddling around in the digital domain: Lego Digital Designer. It is a free program available for download on the Lego website. Working from a sorted drawer of lego pieces that never empties, you can build to your heart's content, and once the model is finished, upload it to the Lego website, and order a kit, with every specific piece, and construction instructions included, all packaged in a genuine Lego box. So go out, and relive your childhood -- digitally!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Perfect Words

Imagine walking into a meeting, and as the opening word the leader states that the goal is to design something "fair, equitable, and sustainable for all generations of all species of all time." Not a small task! What a strong statement! So strong that I have everything to say about it and nothing all at once, for fear of ruining the power of it. So I'll just leave it here for the day.

According to a colleague of mine this is how it is to start a meeting with William McDonough, green designer, and author of the famous book "Cradle to Cradle." What a smart man! I know I may be late on the bandwagon, but I just went out and bought a copy of the book, I need to know more!

by Lou Smith

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hold Onto Your Souls!

I'd say that as a general rule I'd like to hold onto my soul. Afterall, it might come in handy sometime, which is exactly why the title of this book intrigued me. "How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul" by Adrian Shaughnessy is a great handbook for new designers, in or just out of college. It isn't about design itself, but rather about being a designer. Not about lines, and colors, and shapes, it's about finding creativity, dealing with clients, and most of the in's and out's of becoming a professional designer.

The information it covers seems so basic, but is genuinely useful; the kinds of things you can find tidbits of in magazine articles but almost never compiled in one place. Which direction to hold you portfolio in an interview, how to win clients: "by doing great work all of the time," and even a quick overview of how to keep track of your design company's finances. It covers all the little stuff, so you can stop worrying about business details and start doind what you do best, design!

But the book doesn't stop with just business, it's like a mullet: business in front, and pleasure in the back! In the last pages of the book there is a chapter covering the creative process. In short, how to pull the best designs possible out of yourself even if your brain is kicking and screaming for ideas. My favorite piece of advice: "It is only by daring to experiment, and by taking risks, that rich and meaningful design is created."

It's also sprinkled with interviews from array of modern designers, providing unique insights into the profession itself, such as the tidbit from Rudy VanderLans: "It's only natural to be revered by your peers." Haha, he knows me so well! But seriously, there is lots of good information to be gleaned.

Not only is the content good, but the deisgn of the book itself is good. The pages are carefully typeset, and all samples are printed 2-color in the prettiest color black, and cyan ink. Every little thing about it is worth admiring, even the new book smell! So dig your nose into the pages, read every word, and don't forget to take a whiff.

by Lou Smith
Buy "How to be a graphic designer, without losing your soul" by Adrian Shaughnessy on Amazon

Lulu Is My Friend

Clever, clever. The age of the internet has brought lots of different options for single run, print on demand, and personally published stuff. Cafe Press was the first, but I have never been excited by the collage of crap that you find on the site, and the all the restrictions with printing sizes and techniques. They started doing self-published books a few years ago or so, but I couldn't get the image of a crappily printed book with my name on it out of my head.

But there's a new self-publishing website online, (if not more,) Lulu! And it seems that it is getting over some major hurdles that Cafe Press had. There are plenty of different sizes of books to choose from, full color, or black and white, you can even choose between hard covers, and soft covers, and different binding techniques. The best thing is that they describe exactly what your going to get, and it's good. Nice paper, with brands color and weights right there for you to see, they even tell you the printer that they're going to use... Now this is built for designers. You can design every piece of the book, submitting a complete .pdf file for print.

This is fun! I'm getting all sorts of crazy design-studenty ideas... Zines, comics, poetry, documentations, and final portfolio pieces that I don't have to craft myself.... You can even add an ISBN number, [girlish giggle....] This is going to be so much fun! Design students need these kinds of resources!

by Lou Smith

A New Favorite Thing

The time has come to give a shout out to my new favorite thing... Architects Hatch . I saw it at Passagen, and like that Kylie Minogue song, I just can't get it out of my head.

The neon... the stripes... the workmanship... the joy!

It's so lovely, I really can't stop thinking about it. The pieces are made of a birch particle board that seems so raw, and rough at first, but on a closer inspection of the workmanship you can see why one would be willing to pay a good price for this piece. Hidden behind a laminate coating for years, this piece spotlights particle board, and gives it the glory that it has never received before.

The neon orange (or black for more boring people) inlayed stripes are so precisely set, they wrap around the piece matching
perfectly at all corners, and conjunctions. It looks nice, and seems simple but the whole stripe pattern was laid out on computer and carefully calculated. Precision! I love it! I wish it had been my idea!

Just imagine this piece sitting in your dining room, it would be the talk of your dinner party. Everyone would love you! If you are brave enough to put neon colors in your home then everyone should love you!

Last but not least, the architect who designed the piece is really cute! (what can I say, I'm a girl, I have to mention it!) Go out and buy one, or at least go to the website and drool over it like me!

by Lou Smith

Humanity Behind Bars

"Necessity is the mother of invention" Plato was absolutely right. I found myself stuck in a small town near Cologne on a Sunday morning with one cigarette in hand, and no lighter. What to do, what to do? I had to have the cigarette... so giving up wasn't an option. Lacking resources, everything is closed here on the weekend, I pulled out inventive my designerly skills and did what I had to. I used the electric stovetop. Heated it up, put the cigarette on the burner and took a drag.

It helped me to sympathise with a book I recently found called Prisoners' Inventions. How do you react do people do when only their most basic needs (food and heat) are provided for? What about the less than basic needs? Lighting up a cigarette, privacy, tattoos? They are not necessary for life, but in a way they are necessary to feel normal. These little bits of the outside world are helping to make such a restricted life bearable.

On noticing all of the ingenious inventions that his prisoner friends were making a prisoner called Angelo began compiling drawings and explanations of these inventions, which later turned into the book "Prisoner Inventions".

In his words "The prison environment is designed and administered for the purpose of suppressing such inventiveness." Prisoner inventions are all subject to confiscation by prison police, and are often gone within days of they're creation. That only makes the prisoners more creative, they constantly have to remake, and therewith rework the basic designs.

The basic idea of prison is to make the prisoners feel less human, and they are responding by creating things that simulate freedom, reviving their humanity. It's like an Ayn Rand novel behind bars. The "Prime Mover" fighting against authority not with words or weapons, but with inventiveness.

by Lou Smith
Temporary Services, Prisoner Inventions Website
University of Chicago Press Website

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The New Roger!

The new Roger is now available in all of it's printed glory! It is packed full of thought provoking articles on Future and Design. Including interviews with punk junkie Malcolm McLaren, and design researcher Harald Gründl, a feature on Scandanavian design thinking, an article about future design scenarios created by modern biotechnology, and straight forward pieces battling it out with the future of the design industry.

Buy your own copy at "Die Andere Buchladen" across from the Köln International School of Design on Ubierring in Cologne, online, or at fine art book handlers. For more information check out our website

Meaningful Complexity

When I ran across the work of the photographer Phillip Toledano, I was intrigued. First by the technical quality of the props, settings, and lighting, but secondly by the sheer absurdity of the work. It is provocative, and fully genuine.

In his "Hopes and Fears" series he visually communicates the obsessions us humans can grow about our dreams, and our fears. A woman covered in breasts, or legs, and a man covered in guns is completely absurd at first glance, but with only a little thought you understand exactly what he is trying to communicate with the images, absurdity! By overexaggerating the object, he is able to communicate how foreign and bizarre it is for humans to become so obsessed with these things.
His other work is creative and intriguing as well, a favorite is the series of portraits meant to show a hidden side of the subjects personality, he took them while the models were playing video games! The oddness of the facial expressions combined with the darkness and absurdity of a head floating in a field of black makes these photos really funny, and bizarre, but also the seem very genuine. The facial expressions are contorted and distracted as if no-one is looking at all.
In the end, I am just amazed by Toledano's ability not only to understand the complex concepts and emotions that we as humans feel and deal with everyday, but his ability to portray them visually, and communicate these ideas to an audience.

His two working philosophies that first, everything piece should have come from an idea, and that his creations should not answer question, but evoke them, is something that could be of use in the design world.
Objects that we design should not just come from accidental sketches that end up looking pretty, but from a real conceptual thinking, based in research and braistorming.
And as for evoking questions, I think that the design world gets too caught up in answering questions of functionality, and marketability, but we forget to ask the questions ourselves, why are we doing this? Is there another choice down a completely different train of thought that could be more innovative, and genuine than the obvious choice?

If we as designers started focussing on these kinds of ideals like Mr. Toledano, we could create design that really changes the way people live, and react to life. Make them ask questions like, do I want that boob job afterall?

by Lou Smith

Friday, January 26, 2007

Die „design talents“ auf der IMM 2007

Wie auch schon im letzten Jahr, bot die IMM jungen Designern und Hochschulen im Rahmen der „design talents“ ein Forum, ihre Konzepte, Prototypen und Produkte einem internationalen Fachpublikum vorzustellen.
Unter dem Motto: "one spirit, three events", konnte man in der Messehalle 1 neben bekannten Formaten wie dem Nachwuchswettbewerb „inspired by cologne“ und dem „future point“, auch viele selbstständige Jungdesigner mit fertigen Produktreihen finden.
In anbetracht der Tatsache, mit welch großen Worten die IMM ihre „ Arena für kreative Köpfe“ im Vorfeld bewarb, war man geneigt davon auszugehen hier ein Highlight der Messe vorfinden zu können.

Erstmalig war das Online-Portal „Designspotter“ auf der Messe vertreten, welches ca.50 Jungdesignern unter seiner Dachmarke ein geschlossenes Auftreten ermöglichte. In diesem Kontext fanden auch kleinere Produktreihen ein Forum, für die sich ein seperater Messestand nicht rentieren würde. Eine gute Sache und es wäre wünschenswert, wenn sich derartige Kooperationsprojekte auf der IMM etablieren können.
Neben Designspotter versuchten auch ca. 20 Einzelaussteller die Aufmerksamkeit des Publikums auf ihre Stände zu lenken.
Erfolgreich gelang dies der Firma Designatics, welche mit ihrem „Sonic Chair“ ein ausgereiftes und markttaugliches Produkt vorstellten. Auch die Schmetterlinge von Vanessa Hannen sind zu erwähnen, da sie gut produziert und wirklich hübsch sind. Nicht hübsch aber dafür interressant waren die Dosenlampen von Christian Lessing. Interressant vor allem deshalb, weil man sich fragen musste, wie man es schafft mit einem solchen Produkt auf die Messe zu kommen.

>> future point

Überraschend fiel der Auftriit der Hochschulen unter dem Motto „future point“ aus.
Zum Beispiel staunte man nicht schlecht über die Exponate der „Anadolu University“. Der Ausdruck einer „Röntgenlampe“ gepaart mit mangelhafter Umsetzung ließ keine Fragen offen, außer vielleicht, was so eine Dosenlampe wohl kosten mag. Während sich an diesem Stand auch interressante Produktideen fanden, glänzten manche Hochschulen mit vornehmer Zurückhaltung. Die Stände der FH Rosenheim und HTF Stuttgart beispielsweise, präsentierten weder besonders aufsehenerregende Exponate, noch überzeugten sie durch innovative, mutige Konzepte oder besondere Kommunikationsbereitschaft. Welche konkreten Ziele mit ihrem Auftritt erreicht werden sollten wird ihr Geheimniss bleiben, zumal es Andere besser verstanden die Neugier des Besuchers zu wecken. So zum Beispiel das „Designlabor Bremen“, welches mittels einer raumübergreifenden Installation für ihr Stipendienprogramm warb. Interessierte Hochschulabsolventen konnten sich bewerben, indem sie sich photographieren ließen und das so entstandene Portrait über neonfarbene Schnüre mit dem Projekt in Verbindung brachten.
Außergewöhnlich und optisch ansprechend war der Messestand der Staatlichen Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe. Der Mut, den Messestand mit Folie zu verhüllen, um so neugierig zu machen und auf eine Entdeckungsreise einzuladen, wurde jedoch nicht belohnt. Vermutlich, weil man diese Form der Präsentation für sich selbst sprechen ließ, ohne den Besucher zusätzlich zu animieren.


Wäre noch der Nachwuchswettbewerb für junge Designtalente „inspired by cologne“ zu erwähnen.
Zum einen gab es dort richtig gute Ideen und Produkte zu sehen, zum anderen aber auch solche bei denen man sich wünschte der Erschaffer(in) hätte die inspiration besser für ein schönes Bild genutzt.
Zur ersten Gruppe gehört auf jeden Fall der „Radiator“ von Marco Dessi. Dieser überzeugt nicht nur durch seine außergewöhnliche Formsprache, sondern auch durch seine Funktionalität. Eine Heizung wird hier zum architektonischen Spielobjekt und eröffnet individuelle Gestaltungsfreiheit.

Auf moderne Technologie in Verbindung mit futuristischer Gestaltung setzt Simon Brünner mit seiner Leuchte „Ufo“. Er kombiniert die lichtleitende Eigenschaft von Glasfasern und Acrylglas zu einem außergewöhnlichen Einrichtungsobjekt.
Ganz im Gegensatz zu Katrin Greilings Leuchte „Bird“. Auch aus Acrylglas, scheinen hier die Ansprüche an Ästhetik und Funktion eher zweitrangig zu sein. Weder spendet diese Leuchte Licht, noch erinnert sie an einen Vogel.Falls doch sollte dem armen Tier geholfen werden.
Weniger ist mehr dachte sich wahrscheinlich Marina Weddeling. Sie halbierte gewöhnliche Holzstühle und dübelte sie auf Bodenniveau an eine Wand. So hatte sie weniger Stühle, aber dafür eine neue Garderobe mit integrierter Ablage, die sie „Schmalhans“ taufte.

Alles in allem war die Ausstellung „design talents“ einen Besuch wert. Man muss jedoch sagen, dass der Gesamteindruck durchaus besser hätte ausfallen können. In Anbetracht des relativ beschränkten Budgets, vieler dort vertretener Aussteller, war der Anspruch aus einer emotionslosen Messehalle eine „Kreativ-Areana“ zu machen, zu hoch angesetzt. Die Schaffung einer authentischen Atmosphäre, würde jedoch den Vorsatz junges Design attraktiv zu präsentieren unterstützen.
Man könnte sich aber auch die Frage stellen, ob junges Design überhaupt gut auf der Messe aufgehoben sein kann und sich nicht eher in ausgewählten, lebendigeren, städtischen Strukturen präsentieren sollte?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Antidotes to a Contemporary Monotony

written by Hamish Bigg and Jennifer Kay

Amongst a diverse range of collections, the smaller companies proved to be the real gems of Passagen. In this time of rapid turn-over and mass production, it was refreshing to see a return to seemingly lost values such as fine handcraft, locality, re-use and originality.

Temporary exhibitions reinforced the initiative and notion behind Passagen, offering new designs and installations that are both accessible and welcoming to anyone with the curiosity. The best of these exhibitions surpass the majority with originality, honesty and quality while others merely question the commercialism of Passagen. “Commercialism” however, seems essential to support the reach of such an event.

Ehrenfeld’s Farm Project presented a collaboration between the kitchen manufacturers Dornbracht and art director Mike Meiré. Meiré has created a utopian kitchen, the “place of life”, a kitchen that is evidently used in the way intended. The project questions the sense in minimalism within the home in a welcomed contrast to the archetypal furniture fair kitchen, encapsulating a visionary domestic environment. Aromas, warmth, live animals and old crockery all piece together to create a safe haven in which you feel truly at home. The Farm Project does not suggest a future décor; Meiré in fact suggests “an attitude, a belief - a call to the alternative”. “For years now there has been this incredible urge to design everything, as the result of which we have gone without so many interesting, lovely and enchanting things, especially in the kitchen.” They do not oppose the stance of other manufacturers but do however highlight the monotony that is becoming of most manufacturers and fairs. Do not expect the Farm Project as the next kitchen trend but this installation could be the needed inspiration for a more honest and pragmatic style of living.

Passagen provides a platform for younger design collectives to unveil their work, exposing them to both public and professional attention. One such collective is Duunddu who produce unique, witty products such as their rabbit hutch made from a shopping basket or run consisting of giant caged jigsaw pieces; storage units inspired by the humble banana box and wine crate; shelves that ingeniously work with torsion rather than relying on screws to hold it together - these are just some of the items that made the young company stand out from the crowd.

The same flirtatious attitude was displayed at Floor to Heaven where playful designs have dramatically elevated the status of the humble carpet. Their new range ‘Silver & Pirates’ was launched at this year’s Passagen and drew plenty of interest with vivacious creations featuring skull and crossbones and patterns inspired by traditional Russian textiles. All the floor pieces are hand tufted, displaying astounding workmanship and intricate beauty, creating the dubbed “Floor Couture”.

Meanwhile, RCA graduates OKAY Studio exhibited work ranging from commercial products to mythological interpretations, all flaunting characteristics of the RCA Design Products course. Shay Alkalay’s Hoover Bag Bear inspired by sentimentality for throwaway products is accompanied with an amusing anecdote that personalises a peculiar object. “A simple employee at the council rubbish disposal services had a peculiar imagination -he could see teddy bears in all the rubbish he observed.” While RCA’s critics are irritated by the school’s “arrogance and complacency” and some pieces were verging on the ridiculous, we love Alkalay’s once disposable Hoover bag made lovable. It is these experimental and novel qualities of OKAY Studio that gave a playful perspective to a rather commercial and repetitive Passagen, reinforcing the young designer’s position amid the more established.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Brazilian company Etel Interiores presented its custom-made furniture and accessories from managed Amazonian forest wood. Each piece is bespoke and beautifully handcrafted near São Paulo. Etel works with young and renowned Brazilian designers such as Isay Weinfeld to give a refreshing take on handmade wooden furniture. Although not as colourful or attention grabbing as some furniture, Etel does give a welcome contrast to the plastic lacquered cabinets and poorly made furniture that are so common today.

DejaVu’s designer Doris Armbruster utilises reclaimed treasures, notably old architectural wood, to forge new furniture/ functional art pieces. A bench made from old ceiling beams, a cabinet made from the side of a barn, a cupboard featuring a rustic door – just some of the items that form a collection of beautiful furniture, each piece telling its own story and of course benefiting the environment through compelling reuse of materials.

It is crafted objects like these that are so good to see – a step backwards in terms of commonly perceived ‘progression’ but undeniably in the right direction. We are tired of seeing more and more soulless mass-produced furniture being distributed all over the world by large manufacturing corporations. Homes are filled up with the year’s must-have products from the latest ‘hot’ designer, only to be replaced the following year with something new. Bespoke furniture has the quality and character that spiritless factory-made items simply can’t provide. We say less mass-manufacturing, more soul!

Love or hate product goes to Architects hatch’ chipboard and neon orange resin cupboard. Artist and designer Marcus Benesch has done wonders to create anything out of chipboard, let alone this well finished composite of, shall we say, diverse materials. It may not sit well with your showroom replica living room but diversity and neon should be welcomed with open arms. But considering the €4,000 price tag, we would say, “look, but don’t touch”!

Phrase Mongering

written by Lou Smith an Patrick Spingler

”Design… Interior design... Outdoor design… Innovation… Functionality… Exciting insights and inspiration… Products that meet the demands of modern lifestyle, quality and shaping… Combining the old with the new… Get in touch with completely new and inspiring ideas from the crème de la crème of international designers…” Sounds good, but what does it all mean? Spanning over 150 spots all across the city is, what its founder calls, “a ’Mecca’ for the design hungry and meeting point for the international design world” - Passagen 2007. After reading the brochure it seems as if you couldn’t walk for 500 meters in Cologne without running into one of Europe’s top designers these days. But is what’s behind the Passagen event really the high quality design proclaimed by many of the participants, or is it just a PR lady with a dictionary making mouthwatering promises from behind a curtain, like the wizard of OZ?

Obviously some of them had a hard time with their grammar school vocabulary lessons, because the guide is full of big words, which sound nice but are used incorrectly. For example, two designers presented a chandelier that they say fits into the field of so-called "Haute Couture" lighting. The chandelier was made of plastic, and a boring design, leaving us wondering what those lamps have in common with the unique handmade fashion pieces that bear the same name? Asking the designers, it became obvious that they didn't know either. But, hey, who cares? Haute Couture still sounds fancy, doesn't it?

The blurbs were also full of pre-formed opinions on the designs themselves. How can the author know that I will find a design inspiring before I even look at it?

Once again, the trend this year is reusing old designs from the mid 20th century. One showroom included stacking beds from the 60’s that were reproduced with new colors and finishes. The design is still great; the only problem is the sign on the showroom window reading “Modern Design.” Since when is 40 years ago modern? As far as design history books go the “modern” design movement happened more than 100 years ago. And they certainly can’t intend “modern” to mean current design.

Another example, a high-end kitchen producer brought back a design this year, which was, in its time, meant to be a functional kitchen for four. It takes only two square meters of the extensive showroom and, as the hostess was presenting the item, it became clear that it hardly functions and would barely be enough kitchen for one person nowadays. It must have been a bad year for kitchen design if they are recycling this kind of crap. Reproducing old designs is not necessarily bad, but they should at least be appropriate for the current market.

Many furniture designers are presenting the innovative idea of “modular” furniture systems, which allow the owner to use his own creativity to make combinations of furniture in an all-new way. The most avant-garde couch owners are experimenting with an L-shaped "get together zone" for their living rooms. Sorry everyone, you’ve been duped, have you ever noticed that modular furniture hardly ever gets moved into new configurations once it’s in the owners hands? It has been around for a long time, and it’s no longer new and interesting, just absolutely normal.

At the Design Post, a location which hosts 17 Passagen participants, there was not a single new product introduced for the event. 13 did not change their permanent exhibition at all for the Passagen. One store even admitted that the main reason for joining Passagen was peer pressure from the neighboring stores. If the showrooms are open all year round with no changes, then what’s so special about Passagen? Every year more and more permanent showrooms and stores want to join the Passagen and it seems to be only a question of time until IKEA joins as well. Just imagine Passagen visitors trekking to the outskirts of town to visit the extensive IKEA “showroom” in Rodenkirchen. It would be an odd sight, but surely Passagen curator Mrs. Voggenreiter would appreciate the profits from their participation.

This is exactly the problem with Passagen today. It has been taken over by permanent stores, most of which have barely changed a thing for the event itself. Asking one store about changes for Passagen, they replied that their showroom laid new green carpet, special for the event. Obviously, a great part of the exhibitors are just using the brochure to help visitors find their way to their retail locations. Maybe handing out Yellow Pages would do the job just as well. At least this way many visitors could be preserved from the harassment of those mind-numbing phrases and boring showrooms.

The furniture festival has become such a mess that many participating locations aren’t even relevant to furniture design anymore. A hotel participated in the event displaying only one piece of design in the lobby with no background information available or even anyone standing near it. It was obviously a gimmick to get visitors to stay with them during the event. The most irrelevant entry on the list was an authorized Apple computer dealer: The last time we checked, computers aren’t furniture at all.

For one week Cologne is full of orange Passagen banners, but so many are lacking something unique and new to back them up. It is nice to have a furniture design event in the city, but Passagen should take care that the content of the event does not become too full of crap. The event is nothing but its content, and if the content is recycled, non-functional, or irrelevant, the event will quickly become all of those things itself.