Until March 31st there is still time to enter the Re:design[net]WORK AWARD.
Organised within the framework of the Programme for Transnational Cooperation Slovakia–Austria 2007–2013, the competition is looking for unrealized ideas and designs involving waste products (re-use design) that will be presented to the public and offered to companies active in the socioeconomic field in order to be eventually implemented.

The competition is being run over three categories: Mobility & Public Space, Household & Domestic Life and Accessories, Jewellery & Fashion. The winner in each category receives Euro 1,000.

All designers and design students resident in the European Union can enter, regardless if you are an EU national or not.

Full details can be found at

Good luck!

redesign network

Re:design network AWARD


Greece, as we all know,  is broke.

Beggared, bust, dirt poor, flat broke, impoverished, needy, penniless, penurious, poor, ruined, stone broke, strapped, tapped out.


If you want to help the Mother Of Civilisation out of its current predicament, you should consider contributing to the current Athens Bench Mark competitions.

A joint initiative between the international NGO ‘The World of Athens‘  and the City of Athens, Athens Bench Mark aims to renew the benches of Athens – and in doing so improve life in the Greek capital.

Athens Bench Mark hopes to achieve these goals through two design competitions and a volunteer programme.

The principle competition is open to all designers and creative teams and has the brief of creating new benches for the public spaces in Athens.

The second competition Future Bench is similar – only without the technical specifications attached to the primary competition and so with a lot more artistic freedom.

But how does this help revive the Hellenic fortunes?

Simply put, society’s who have high quality public benches are more productive. That’s undeniable scientific fact.

More importantly, the winner of the primary competition receives no prize – other than the satisfaction and pride of seeing their design produced and installed on the streets of Athens.

The winners of the Future Bench competition do receive cash prizes… but you can always hand it over to the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.

And finally there is the volunteer programme that is seeking volunteers to refurbish and repair damaged and worn benches in the city.

Linda Brothwell’s Repair Project showed just how wonderful and such a concept can be.

Further sources of inspiration could be Extrusion by Thomas Heatherwick Studios, Wheelbench by Rogier Martens for Weltevree or Easy Reader by Nils Holger Moorman

Closing date for both competitions is April 6th.

More information can be found at

Linda Brothwell Repair Project Lisbon

Linda Brothwell Repair Project Lisbon .. an excellent forerunner for the Athens Bench Mark Volunteer Programme

easy reader moormann athens bench mark

Easy Reader from Moormann .... A possible design for Athens Bench Mark?

London 5 March 2010:

The seven category winners of the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2010 are announced today. Collectively they celebrate everyday design, reflecting international trends, current themes of sustainability and social enablement. Winners originate from Chile, China, Netherlands, UK and USA.

The winners include Monterrey Housing, a new model for social housing in Mexico, a project which was first trialed in Chile.  The E430 Electric Aircraft, the first of its kind which produces zero emissions; and Grassworks a beautiful flat pack furniture kit made of sustainable bamboo which requires no drills or glue.

British designer, Alexander McQueen, was selected as winner of the Fashion category and jury member Paula Reed, Style Director of Grazia commented ‘The video presentation of McQueen’s last show is one of the most compelling pieces in the exhibition. […]The impressiveness simply compounds the enormity of his loss.’

The seven Brit Insurance category winners are:

Brit Insurance Architecture Award 2010: Monterrey Housing, Mexico. By Elemental. Chile.

Brit Insurance Fashion Award 2010: Alexander McQueen Spring / Summer ’10 and Spring / Summer Catwalk presentation Plato’s Atlantis. UK

Brit Insurance Furniture Award 2010: Grassworks. By Jair Straschnow. Netherlands.

Brit Insurance Graphic Award 2010: The Newspaper Club. By Ben Terrett, Russell Davies and Tom Taylor. UK

Brit Insurance Interactive Award 2010: The EyeWriter. By members of Free Art and Technology, openFrameworks, Graffiti Research La, The Ebeling Group and Tony Quan. USA

Brit Insurance Product Award 2010: Folding Plug. By Min-Kyu Choi.UK

Brit Insurance Transport Award 2010: E430 Electric Aircraft. By Yuneec International. China.

Antony Gormley Chair of the Jury comments “The seven winners provide a snapshot of some of the most outstanding designs from the past 12 months and reflect the important role design plays in improving people’s lives.”

The seven winning designs will now compete for the overall Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2010, to be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the Design Museum on 16 March. The winning entries, along with all the shortlisted designs, are on show at the Design Museum until 6 June.

Source: London Design Museum Press Release

Firstly we must admit that when we saw the Houdini chairs in Milan last year… we ignored them and kept walking.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean that we didn’t like them… But isn’t exactly an indication of our confidence in them either.

Following a carpentry apprenticeship, Freising (the town next to Munich Airport) born Stefan Diez studied Industrial Design at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in  Stuttgart.  After spells working with Richard Sapper and Konstantin Grcic, Stefan Diez opened his own studio in 2003. Widely regarded as one of the most talented young German Industrial designers, Stefan Diez has worked with firms such as Thonet, Wilkhahn and Moroso.

As already indicated the Houdini Armrest Chair was launched by e15 at the 2009 Saloni in Milan.

Where we ignored it.

The secret of the Houdini Armrest Chair lies in its construction: lengths of oak-veneered plywood are carefully formed around and glued too a milled central ring. It is the overlapping of these plywood lengths that give the Houdini Armrest Chair its distintive form and character. Our main problem with Houdini is the legs – which for our money look like a cheap afterthought and not part of a well considered master plan.

What we really don’t understand however is that only the “armrest chair” appears to have been nominated. Whereas with other nominations, such as Grassworks or Breathe, the whole collection is nominated – the judges apparently didn’t like the side chair version of the Houdini range.

Which can’t bode well for it’s chances.

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: low

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez

Houdini by Stefan Diez the Brit insurance Design awards dont like the side chair

Houdini by Stefan Diez the Brit Insurance Design Awards judges don't like the side chair

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez  construction

Houdini Armrest Chair by Stefan Diez construction

If we’re honest, for us  Breathe by Helen Kontouris is a bit like US government’s collection of crashed UFOs

It exists.

Just in great secrecy.

Were not sure if the Australian Secret Service is behind the project… but information obviously should not be made public.

Even the alleged producer do not mention it on their website; and that despite the fact Breath was supposed to be launched at Milan in 2009.

We can’t confirm if it actually was.

After a couple of failed starts as an interior designer, Helen Kontouris switched to Industrial Design in 2002 with the establishment of her Melbourne based agency Helen Kontouris Design.  Since then Kontouris has worked with companies as varied as WMF, Coffex and Sunweave and won numerous awards – including the 2009 IDEA  “Product of the Year” award for the Breathe Collection.

It goes without saying however that no text exists from the IDEA Awards.

And that despite the fact that Helen Kontouris also won the “Designer of the Year Award”

What we do know about the Breathe collection is that it is composed of a sofa an armchair and quite possibly a table.

That it is constructed from hand-woven polyethylene strips fixed to an aluminium frame – and that it is top secret.

We’re not at all convinced by Breathe. Not at all. We can well imagine what others find attractive and innovative, but for us it just looks tired and forced.
Or put another way we cannot follow the process that lead to the creation of the collection.

The “mission statement” of Helen Kontouris Design  includes the sentence: “We believe ecology in design today, rests on the role of the designer as cultural architect, creating products with clear purpose, intelligent material appropriateness & function that arrest you with their beauty & promote a movement ‘against throwawayism’.

And we simply don’t see that in Breathe.

All of which probably means that it has good chances of winning the Brit Insurance Design Award.

Assuming any one dares submit any information to the judges.

Breathe Furniture by Helen Kontouris

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: good to middling

Breathe Sofa by Helen Kontouris

Breathe Sofa by Helen Kontouris

Breathe arm chairs by Helen Kontouris

Breathe arm chairs by Helen Kontouris

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow is a range of product created from bamboo laminate.

Israeli born Straschnow, moved to Holland in 1999 to undertake a post-graduate course at the Applied Arts Department of the Sandberg Institute. Following his graduation he established himself as  a professional designer based in Amsterdam who specialises in public installations as well as series’ of furniture pieces.

Originally displayed at the Aram Gallery in Drury Lane, London – as with Extrusions as part of  the London Design festival – Grassworks is a series of production ready prototypes.
And so again as with Thomas Heatherwicks Extrusion, is a sort of  “work in progress”
(Which does of course raise the question if displaying prototypes at the London Design Festival is not in fact the best way to guarantee a nomination for the Brit Insurance Design Award 🙂 )

Including, amongst other items, a picnic table and bench and a convertible easy/dining chair, Grassworks is designed to be as simple, space-saving and sustainable as possible.

For all the decision to use bamboo was made “…mainly because it is a truly green material“: As a fast growing grass, bamboo stocks can be quickly replenished without casing any impact on the local environment.

But is perhaps the simplicity of the design that really distinguishes the Grassworks range from other products. Using variations of the traditional dovetail joint,  the individual Grassworks elements simply slot together without the need for permanent fixings. Which of course means that they can also be just as easily taken apart again.

We particularly like the Eames-esque easy chair – not least because it flips over to form two different shaped chairs – and the extending trestle table. Both have a lovely flowing, natural form… which we like.
And we think the judges will also approve of both the mix of materials and traditional techniques in a wonderfully fresh collection.

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: very good

grassworks by jair straschnow easy chair

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow: Easy Chair

grassworks by jair straschnow trestle table

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow: Trestle Table

grassworks by jair straschnow bookshelves

Grassworks by Jair Straschnow: Bookshelves

Without doubt the ugliest and least aesthetic nomination, Extrusions by  Thomas Heatherwick Studio should,  in our opinion, be considered more a “work in progress” than an actual product in its own right.

Born in London, Thomas Heatherwick studied at Manchester Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art in London before establishing his own studio in 1994. Based in Kings Cross, London Heatherwick Studio is a conglomeration of architects, designers and engineers who have worked on a range of architecture and public art projects.  Many of Heatherwick’s architectural works focus on finding new solutions to problems and experimenting with materials.

As wonderfully demonstrated by Extrusions.

Premiered at the Haunch of Venison Gallery during 2009 London Design Festival, Extrusions is the worlds first single component metal furniture piece extruded by machine.

Extrusion is, basically, forcing material through a pre-formed cross section “die” – think of it as a mould through which the raw material is pushed, and you won’t be that far away.

Macaroni, for example,  is produced by extrusion.

Heatherwick’s benches were, however, produced on the worlds largest extrusion machine – a machine normally used for producing components for aircraft – and represent the first prototypes of a 100m long bench that should be finished in the course of 201o.
And they look like it. A sort of Ron Arard meets Frank Gehry meets a case of very agreeable  St Emillion.

But that is not the point.

The point is that metal extrusion offers a new method for furniture production; and for all furniture production wth materials that would normally be too brittle to work.

And that is the strength of the project. It pushes the borders of what is possible and forces new ways of considering how one constructs furniture

In years to come the first benches will be worth more money than an average aluminium miner earns in a lifetime; but they may just be the first step to developing furniture that he can afford.

Extrusions, Thomas Heatherwick Studio

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: very good

thomas heatherwick studio  extrusions

Thomas Heatherwick Studio Extrusions

thomas heatherwick  studio extrusions several

Several Extrusion examples from Thomas Heatherwick Studio

“I wanted to make a chair that was lighter than Gio Ponti’s Superleggera, so light a child could pick it up with just his little finger”.

So describes Japanese architect Shigeru Ban the motivation behind his Carbon Fibre Chair.

Born in Tokyo in 1957 Shigeru Ban initially studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and subsequently at the Cooper Union School of Architecture where he completed his  Bachelor in 1984. Following his  return to Japan he established his own practice. Although much of Ban’s work has unmistakable overtones of two of his favourite architects, Mires van der Rohe and Alvar Aalto, it is his experimentation with “non-traditional” materials that sets Shigeru Ban apart from his contemporaries. Best known for his work with cardboard tubes and paper Ban has created buildings as varied as Issey Miyake’s Design Studio Gallery in Tokyo, the Japanese Pavillion at Expo 2000 in Hannover and refugee shelters for the UNHCD.

“I was interested in weak materials,” Ban told “Whenever we invent a new material or new structural system, a new architecture comes out of it.”

So with his carbon fibre chair

Weighing in at just 500 grams, carbon fibre chair is constructed as a “sandwich” featuring an aluminium skeleton surrounded by two 0,25mm layers of the carbon fibre TENAX – a product commonly used in aircraft wings, satellite antennas and fishing rods.

So stable, yet light.

Carbon fibre chair originally formed part of the “Tokyo Fibre 2009” exhibition: essentially a PR event for the Japanese synthetic fibres industry.

In many ways it is only upon seeing carbon fibre chair in profile that one realises the true aesthetic value of the chair. It may resemble Maarten van Severens .03, however not only is the silhouette much finer and more filigree; but just as the true magic in .03 lies in the feather spring structure in the back rest, so is carbon fibre chair more about the construction and the material than the sitting comfort per se.

Although that is apparently also quite high.

And the technological features could just swing it for Shigeru Ban…if the judges go for two similar decisions back-to-back.

Carbon Fibre Chair by Shigeru Ban

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: good to middling.

Carbon Fibre Chair Shigeru Ban Brits Insurance Design Award

Carbon Fibre Chair by Shigeru Ban shortlisted in the Brits Insurance Design Award

Although born in Munich Konstantin Grcic is in many ways an English trained designer. Following a carpentry apprenticeship at the renowned Parnham College, he undertook an MA in Industrial Design at the Royal College of Art in London. After graduating in 1990, Grcic spent a year working for Jasper Morrison before returning to Munich to establish KGID Office (Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design)

Often considered one of the modern masters of minimalism, Konstantin Grcic’s work is typified by its simple, clear, uncluttered form.

Among Grcic’s best known works are his Mayday lamp for flos, the ES shelf for Moormann and his Chair One for Magis.

Konstantin Grcic won the Brit Insurance Design Award 2009 with his MYTO Chair for plank.

But we can’t believe he will do it again, principally because  360° Work Chair is in many ways simply a modern reinvention of George Nelson’s 1964 Nelson Perch.

And so in that sense falls short of the Design Museum‘s own claim that the Design Awards are an “annual exploration of the most innovative, interesting and forward-looking new work in design of all kinds”

Reworking George Nelson aint innovative. Or forward looking.

And whereas Grcic’s 2009 winning MYTO Chair could lay claim to being based on an innovative new plastic;  360° Work Chair is a combination of epoxy resin and aluminium. So nothing especially new there then

Conceived as a chair for short burst of work rather than for 8 hours at a desk, 360° Work Chair is a neat idea, nicely executed and is certainly a product for which there is a demand.

And while that may make it interesting for some. It’s just neither a new nor innovative design.

360° Work Chair by Konstantin Grcic

Chances of winning the 2010 Brit Insurance Design Award: very low

Konstantin Grcic 360 work chair brit insurance design award

360 work chair by Konstantin Grcic shortlisted in the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2010

george nelson nelson perch brit insurance design award

Nelson Perch by George Nelson ... compare and contrast

Konstantin Grcic MYTO chair brit insurance design award

MYTO chair by Konstantin Grcic winner of the furniture category at the 2009 Brit Insurance Design Awards

Thonet have announced the winners of their 214 x 214 photo competition.
We think.

Because what we can’t find is any indication as to who has actually won the trip to New York…

Suffice to say we’ll take it, if no one else wants it 🙂

In the meantime you can view the 20 “winners” plus the 16 “special mentions” at

And we’ve reproduced a couple of our favourites below.

Thonet 214x214 Competition Reginaldo Fernandes ... don't try this at home

Thonet 214 x 214 Competition Reginaldo Fernandes ... don't try this at home

Thonet 214x214 competition : Kay Block

Thonet 214 x 214 competition : Kay Block ... Just delightul

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