COLOGNE, Germany – IMM Cologne will once again host Pure Talents Contest, a competition for up-and-coming designers, at the Jan. 18-24, 2021, international furniture show here.

Over the past 17 years, a total of 476 products by 526 designers from all over 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. Design students from all over the world and design graduates from any country who received their degree no more than three years ago can now enter the Pure Talents Contest 2021. The deadline for entries is Sept. 17.

Pure Talent’s 18th edition also will include a dedicated LivingKitchen Selection to mark the Cologne fair’s biannual kitchen event and the second awarding of the Audience Prize. To ensure that all the entrants are granted equal opportunities in the current coronavirus outbreak, more stages in the competition will be hosted on digital channels than in previous years.

The contest jury comprises representatives from the international design scene, the trade press, institutions and manufacturers. This year it includes the designers Ana Relvão (Relvãokellermann, Munich) and Sebastian Herkner (Studio Sebastian Herkner, Offenbach), the design journalist Johannes Hünig, and Thonet’s Creative Director Norbert Ruf.

The jury will assess the entries and nominate the 20 best designs from six categories: Furniture, Home Accessories, Lighting, Floor Coverings, Wallpapers &Textiles and Smart Home.

IMM Cologne visitors can find the designers’ submissions at Pure Talents Contest special exhibition during the show, which highlights original furniture concepts and ideas for more sustainable products, as well as unusual designs for everyday objects that prompt visitors to reflect on their daily routines. The next generation of designers will present prototypes that offer something visually and functionally new and showcase them to the interior design scene. The Pure Talents Contest sees tables reinvented, furniture designed for ease of transport, and lamps created from paper.

“Students and young freelancers are the first to be hit by the emerging economic downturn,” said IMM Cologne Director Claire Steinbrück in a release. “But paradoxically, they are the last to be considered when it comes to providing assistance. In my view, if we are able to host a trade fair during a pandemic, we must also remain committed to our measures to support young designers, having positioned ourselves as their trusted partner for so many years. This is something we won’t give up on so easily.

“Our commitment to the Pure Talents Contest has come from IMM Cologne itself from the outset, and staging the competition is also worthwhile from an industry perspective because it introduces new talent to the market and makes it richer and more progressive in the long run,” she continued.

The nominated product designs will be presented as prototypes to a wide audience of trade visitors and the international press at two special exhibitions at the Interior Business Event IMM cologne and at LivingKitchen.

In the second edition of the “Audience Prize,” chosen on Instagram, the jury will choose the four best designs from the exhibited products on the first day of the trade fair. They will select the first-, second- and third-prize winners – who will receive Euro 3,000, 2,000 and 1,000 respectively – as well as the winner of the LivingKitchen Selection, who will receive €3,000 in prize money. The public will vote on the social media platform Instagram, and the winner chosen will take home €1,000 in prize money.

Given the challenges of COVID-19 under which the current competition will be held, ensuring a strong international dimension is a particular concern for the organizers. As they are striving to ensure equal opportunities for all contestants and they currently have to assume that travel will be subject to different restrictions in different regions of the world, the registration process will be digital, and the presentation of the nominees to the jury and at the event will also take place exclusively via digital media.

Entering the contest and appearing in the Pure Talents Contest special exhibition for those nominated is free of charge for the designers. Those interested in entering can find all the information on the contest and the conditions of participation, as well as information on previous contestants and their submissions here.

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