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Pure Talents Contest imm cologne 2022: Young Designers Demonstrate Quality and Optimism

The Interior Business Event, imm cologne, announced it  is continuing with its long-established competition for young designers for the 19th Pure Talents Contest with a focus on sustainable product concepts. 


The Pure Talents Contest is one of the world’s most prestigious competitions for young designers who are still studying or who recently graduated, and who are seeking to establish start-ups in the furnishing industry. Organized by one of the biggest international interiors trade shows, the competition provides aspiring talents with a stage for their products and a unique opportunity to develop a network within the industry and the design scene. A jury of experts selects the 20 best submissions for presentation at imm cologne and awards prizes to three winners, who are announced at the beginning of the Interior Business Event. 

“It’s truly impressive how many designs of outstanding quality were submitted again this year – despite the difficult circumstances of recent months,” says designer Sebastian Herkner, commenting on the results of the latest Pure Talents Contest. “Many of the designers didn’t even have access to workshops to build their models because even the universities were closed.


However, many somehow managed – perhaps even at home – to create very professional renderings. By that measure, participation has really been extremely positive, with high-quality submissions on topics such as sustainability, new materials etc., which have grown in importance in the last few years.” 

Design you can touch 

The product ideas nominated for presentation at the next imm cologne include enchanting lighting effects and decorative concepts for modern interior designs, as well as finely crafted constructions and exciting studies in materials. Young designers are addressing the challenges of the future – be that with simple product solutions or with smart concepts that reveal the great expectations they have of the future. What all designs have in common is a sleek, attractive form and a focus on the user benefit. Over the last year or two, a trend has emerged where submissions for the contest have moved away from the purely experimental towards concrete product studies foregrounding intuitive use, (multi-)functionality and sustainable values. Building on this, the Pure Talents Contest’s theme for imm cologne 2022 is: Design you can touch – pragmatic, interactive, tactile. 

A focus on solving problems 

Combining appealing aesthetics and functionality has always been at the center of good design. The younger generation of designers are now adding another core element: sustainability.


However, “sustainable” doesn’t simply mean natural or renewable, but often also performative, transportable, modular, recyclable and durable. This “idealistic pragmatism” is also perceptible in almost all the nominated submissions. 

“The realities of the market and of future challenges apparently allow young designers less scope for designs that explore the boundaries with art,” explains Claire Steinbrück, Director of imm cologne. “However, these young creatives are presenting astonishingly well-developed product ideas that demonstrate great optimism and a desire to solve problems. That is truly encouraging and confirms our view that supporting young designers through our competition is important.” 

Jury member Marcel Besau, who – with his Studio Besau-Marguerre, still feels a close proximity to the contest participants, has also been struck by the general trend of the topic of sustainability: “Of course it’s difficult to extrapolate the topic in its entire complexity from design to production and all the way to a serial product – but it keeps coming up. And ten years ago, it simply wasn’t such a big topic generally – the focus was still more on gallery products. That’s nice to see.” 

Presentation of the seven winning entries of the Pure Talents Contest editions 2021 and 2022 will be showcased via the imm cologne online channels again this year

“The plan was to have a joint exhibition of the winning designs as prototypes together with the winners of last year’s Pure Talents Contest, who – due to the corona-conditional cancellation of the imm cologne 2021 – had to forego the presence exhibition,” says Claire Steinbrück. “Therefore, the cancellation of imm cologne 2022 is doubly regrettable from the point of view of the young creatives.” And visitors will also miss out an exhibition featuring no fewer than seven of the most talented up-and-coming international designers of the 2021 and 2022 cohorts.

This year’s distinguished jury includes the designers Marcel Besau (Studio Besau-Marguerre) from Hamburg and Sebastian Herkner from Offenbach, Norbert Ruf, Creative Director and Executive Director of Thonet GmbH, and Jennifer Reaves, Executive Director of DesignFest GmbH, Stuttgart. 

High-quality submissions despite difficult circumstances 

The competition organizers were delighted to receive 539 submissions from 52 countries. The feedback from the jury: “Once again this year it is great to see the exceptional quality of the submissions, despite the obvious difficulties and challenges. Selecting the winners from all the designs is very difficult every time,” admits Norbert Ruf. 

Jennifer Reaves sees a market shake-out as playing a considerable part in the noticeable trend towards pragmatism in the work of young designers: “I thought the submissions were incredibly exciting because of their diversity and, in some cases, complexity, and I discovered a huge number of wonderful products. All in all, the entries were very viable and functional. I really liked the way the next generation of designers are clearly thinking so far ahead to the market that they are considering questions such as: Is this viable? Who is this for? How can this be used? What problems does this solve? I even have a feeling that the age of conceptional design may be over.”

Over the last 18 years, a total of 502 products by 555 designers from all around the world have been presented at imm cologne as part of the contest exhibition. Many of these products have found their way into the collections of well-known manufacturers.  



About Koelnmesse

 Koelnmesse is the world’s top trade fair organiser in the fields of interiors, furnishings, design, home living, garden lifestyle and modern work environments. At the trade fair grounds in Cologne/Germany, the leading international trade fairs imm cologne, LivingKitchen®, spoga+gafa and ORGATEC showcase the latest trends, products and innovations, serving as international, central gatherings for the global industry. In addition to the events at its Cologne headquarters, Koelnmesse is strategically expanding its portfolio internationally: The inaugural ORGATEC TOKYO will be hosted in 2022. It will be the first trade fair in Japan to focus on professional and hybrid work environments. As the satellite event for imm cologne and ORGATEC, idd shanghai provides European companies in the premium and luxury segment of the interior design industry with a unique platform for showcasing exclusive, design-driven products. 


The in-person events are complemented by ambista, the online business network for the international interiors industry, which provides direct anywhere, anytime access to relevant products, contacts, expertise and events. 


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Further information about ambista:


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