What good design can: A highchair that grows with the child – Ludwigsburg

The expandable child seat from Diono LLC is one of the winners of the Focus Open 2021 design award Photo: Juergen Bach


Focus Open 2021 in the Ludwigsburg Museum shows once again that good design makes life easier.

Ludwigsburg – Parents know this: All of a sudden the offspring are too big for the highchair. Because the offspring should still be in the car, a new, larger seat is needed. Parents who drive a car make such a purchase at least twice in their lives. The American company Diono LLC has found a solution to this problem. The seat grows with the child. A short pull in the neck part is enough and it goes not only up but also in width. The studio from Schorndorf was awarded the Focus Open Design Prize for the design of the seat, which can also be folded.

“In fact, when it comes to highchairs, one would think that everything has already been invented,” says Christiane Nicolaus, director of the Design Center Baden-Württemberg, which awards the prize. The seat also shows that good design does not just mean “a beautiful shape”. As a designer, for example, you must also have a sense of what a product should achieve from a social perspective. “The more supersaturated the markets, the more important good design becomes with an innovative character,” says Nicolaus. Ultimately, good design is both a unique sales proposition and an economic factor – but above all, it should make life easier.

Environmentally friendly products are becoming more and more popular

Products that manage to do this can be seen in abundance at the Focus Open, with a total of 49 exhibitions receiving awards. An example: The textile manufacturer Rökona from Tübingen has produced a fabric for shading car interiors that changes color depending on the incidence of light. In bright light, the surface has a silvery sheen – and is then reflected back -, in low light it is extremely matte. Usually such materials are evaporated with metals, but this is not the new development – and that is what is special. The effect comes exclusively from a special weaving technique. The jury also honored that the so-called chain-knitted fabric shows, “that composite materials can certainly be dispensed with”, because they are hardly recyclable. The topics environment and climate have long played a role in the design award.

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The same goes for the Mia Seeger Foundation’s young talent award. The award for young designers is closely linked to the Focus Open. This year, for example, among the winners is a nesting aid for bumble bees, which will give farmers insight into the condition of their fields. The so-called Meta-Award, which was awarded for the second time for particularly leading products, also belongs to the environmental category: The autonomous agricultural machine “Felschwarm FSE II” has hitherto existed, unlike the other products already on the market, merely a prototype. Eleven partners from industry and research are involved in the project, which is led by Dresden University of Technology. The special feature of the movable robot: The tool for plowing or mowing is located between the shafts.



The pandemic also plays a role in the design award

In a way, the corona pandemic was also reflected in the design competition. Not necessarily because of a particularly large number of excellent medical products. These have been a part of the program for a long time. But according to Christiane Nicolaus, this year there are relatively many products that should make working in your own four walls more comfortable. It ranges from extravagant solutions such as a treadmill, which you have to drive yourself, but which you can also work on, to stackable office chairs and mobile cabinets and partitions, with which the home office can be redesigned quickly.

Anyone strolling through the exhibition at Ludwigsburg MIK, which can be seen until November 21, will catch themselves thinking: I could have thought of that too. Manufacturer Floyd simply screwed skateboard wheels under his suitcase. With these, it is much quieter to pull suitcases over cobblestones or other sidewalks. Another example of how good design makes life easier. And in the case of the suitcase, probably also the relationship with the neighbors, who can stay asleep and not be woken by the clicking luggage.

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