100 % Design – German Design from North Rhine-Westphalia
Katalog für Londoner Designmesse 2005, 2006 und 2007
Aufgabe: Redaktion und Essay zur Designlandschaft NRW
Umfang: 24 Seiten
Auftraggeber: Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, Essen
Gestaltung: Prof. Uwe Loesch, Arbeitsgemeinschaft für visuelle und verbale Kommunikation, Düsseldorf
What is new in North Rhine-Westphalia in terms of good design?
"Today, more than ever, design plays a key role," said Paul Flowers, vice president of design of Grohe AG, on receiving the "red dot: best of the best" from the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in June 2007. "Because design," explained the expert, "gives companies the opportunity to stand out with their products in the international competition and also create an emotional connection, which goes beyond the physical and rational needs of the consumer - design thus increases the personal and the economic value of a product." The fact, that the value which design has as an economic factor can hardly be overestimated, is also confirmed by several other companies, for which design is a permanent feature in their business strategy. This is accompanied by high demands on the designers, because it is their task to develop products that are outstanding and unique with regards to their sum of aesthetics, functionality, workmanship, and degree of innovation.
Innovation versus imitation
To the same extent, to which this uniqueness is recognised as a differentiating characteristic as well as an important key to success, the risk of imitation increases. Currently ten per cent of all products traded worldwide are imitations with a resulting international economic damage of 200 to 300 thousand million euros every year. Brand and product piracy is white-collar crime and as such has to be punished. Taking action against piracy and theft of ideas - though not in a criminal sense - is the starting point of the Plagiarius Museum which opened in Solingen in March this year. It is based on the negative award with the same name, the 'Plagiarius', which was created by the internationally renowned designer Professor Rido Busse in 1977. Its trophy, a black dwarf with a golden nose, has been awarded annually since. The award points out the unscrupulous actions of product pirates, who take over innovative ideas and technical know-how down to the finest detail from others and often sell it at extremely lower prices. The unique selection with more than 250 originals and copies from a variety of industries such as for example household products, furniture, vehicles, electronic appliances and children's toys, allows a direct comparison and informs about the extent, the damage and the dangers of imitations and plagiarisms.
The Plagiarius Museum is part of a city development concept for the city of Solingen. This concept for the southern city centre of Solingen is to expand the newly created "Südpark" ('South Park') into an important design location in North Rhine-Westphalia. Furthermore, it is to convey the traditional history of inventions and entrepreneurial spirit of the region, exemplary of which are the cutting tools created under the quality seal "made in Solingen", which are famous worldwide. The museum building designed by Reinhard Angelis was integrated into a hall formerly used for goods dispatch. Its significant walls are almost completely made of plastic and merge seamlessly into the roof. This is contrasted by the house's glass façade, which due to subdivision into different size windows has the look of an irregularly layered dry-stone wall.
Regional design competence as a worldwide trademark
The Forum Produktdesign ('Forum Product Design'), another element of the above-mentioned town development project, is located in the immediate vicinity, in the redesigned former train station. With its distinctive entrance hall from the 1950s, it offers great ambience for exhibitions, trade fairs, events and the sale of award-winning products from the region. The design centre, which is also used by the newly founded Bergisches Institut für Produktentwicklung und Innovationsmanagement ('Bergisches Institute for Product Development and Innovation Management'), an interface between Wuppertal University and regional entrepreneurs, opened with the exhibition "Zukunft - made in Solingen" ('Future - made in Solingen') in May 2006. Against the backdrop of the exceptional qualities of the region, it would become indicative of the future development by creating a bridge between the companies of the region, the 'Bergische Land', and the European countries. Its exhibits were the results of a unique co-operation project: Several companies of the region had first come up with tasks in areas such as communication and safety in automobiles, workplace of the future, and mobility in public space and then further developed the projects partially in very close collaboration with international design students. The students came from nine selected universities for product design from all over Europe, which the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, a profound expert on the international design scene, had nominated beforehand.
Global Player in design - the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen
The Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen with its seat on the World Cultural Heritage Site Zollverein in Essen is one of the oldest and most renowned European design institutions - and at the same time one of the most active in Germany as well as globally. Since Professor Dr. Peter Zec took over the management of the institution in the early 1990s, several activities and initiatives have been triggered which gave the Design Zentrum international attention and a high reputation. Founded in 1954, the design institution has been a facilitator between the industry, companies and designers for more than 50 years now and today is a qualification and communication centre for design-oriented companies, design firms and agencies.
Better by Design - an exhibition on the important factors of successful design
That the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen is one of the most active design promotion institutions in Europe, is shown by the numerous projects, in which it is actively involved in a managing role and to which it brings its many years of competence. In the exhibition "Return on Ideas - Better by Design" for instance, which was part of the "ENTRY2006", the Design Zentrum explored the conditions which have to be fulfilled in order for a product to be successful, and the driving forces which lead to economic and social changes. Presented were products such as a concept car by DaimlerChrysler which is powered by fuel cells, an aluminium rim with the name of "Nature Wheel" which has a wooden core, and a soccer ball which only deviates one percent from perfect roundness. All these products have one thing in common: They document the successful realisation of a good idea using innovative design and state-of-the-art materials. Companies such as adidas, Miele, Vaillant and DaimlerChrysler, design companies, and the aluminium trade association GDA presented innovative forms which helped good ideas to become commercially successful.