As part of Braun’s mission to make industrial design more widely accessible, 2012 marks the first time that the competition has ever been opened for submissions beyond the traditional design student audience to design professionals and enthusiasts – almost 25 per cent of the 2012 entries were submitted by these new entrants. This growth reflects the trend of past years for increasing participation and international reach, as well as a widening appeal of the BraunPrize and creative design in general.
Professor Anne Bergner is a jury member for the BraunPrize 2012. She is a freelance design consultant from Munich and a professor of Integrated Product Design at the University of Applied Sciences Coburg, Germany. Anne was a winner of the BraunPrize in 1999 and has returned to the program, this time as a judge.
In the third of a three-part interview series with the BraunPrize judges for 2012, Curve spoke to Anne Bergner to get an insight into the first BraunPrize judging session.
I understand you were a BraunPrize winner in 1999. How did this feel and how did it help you professionally?
That was a fantastic feeling! I’d just graduated and entered the competition with my diploma project – which I’d been working on very intensely and with great commitment. So winning the BraunPrize made me very proud and gave me the confidence to trust my own approach in design. Shortly before winning the BraunPrize I had started working in a design company. Being a BraunPrize winner made it much easier to overcome the ‘newbie status’ and to get involved in challenging projects.
How has the BraunPrize program changed since your win?
I think it has changed a huge amount. From the beginning the BraunPrize has always been an international competition, but 13 years ago it was still dominated by German students and graduates. Now the entries and the winners are actually coming from all over the world. So it’s no ‘home match’ for German designers. Also the BraunPrize is now open to professionals and the public as well, which creates a great opportunity to discover fresh and innovative ideas.
What is it like to now be a judge?
I feel very honoured being a member of the jury. I’m excited to meet the other jury members and I’m looking forward to working together as a team. It’s also a great responsibility to choose the very best out of so many high-quality entries.
What was the most challenging aspect of being a BraunPrize judge?
The sheer number and variety of entries is very challenging. To form an opinion on a tight schedule is hard. Fortunately, I’ve had good training with my teaching role at the University in Coburg.
What is your general perception of the entries to the BraunPrize 2012?
I didn’t expect so many entries. And so many good ones! The quality of the professional and student entries was actually comparable. This means that the standard of the student projects was astonishingly high and I do think it is this way around and not the other way around regarding the quality of the professionals. Usually participants in competitions that are thematically open use ‘in stock’ projects, but here the ‘everyday use’ theme seems to have inspired quite a lot of designers to create something special for the BraunPrize.
Can you give us some insight into any distinct trends or directions you saw in the entries?
We regarded the strength of some of the projects as very interesting – they crossed the boundaries of traditional industrial design very elegantly. The entries addressed – well, identified – problems without sticking to one creative discipline but combining products and graphics, systems, technology and service design to create seamless solutions and experiences of impressive quality.
Did you see any strong cultural or societal influences?
Some entries looked rather closely at cultural heritage and reinterpreted traditional products, methods or contexts of use. That’s a very rewarding approach, but not all seemed to comprehend the core aspects of these contexts. Social issues like ageing populations and urban living conditions were also big issues.
How did technology influence the concepts presented?
Technology seems to make everything possible. This is very seductive – especially for students, particularly when medical or communication issues come into play. Generating eco-electricity or saving energy seemed to be very popular topics for designers. Also, some of the most innovative concepts used existing structures or focused on personal use and total mobility.
Were sustainability issues covered well?
My impression regarding the presence of sustainability issues in the projects is a bit ambivalent. Sustainability is quite a complex matter and not all entries that claimed to be sustainable would work out to be sustainable and feasible after all. But others had analysed interrelations and contexts very thoroughly and came up with simple but very clever solutions (for everyday problems), which are very promising and seem to have the potential to get into production right away.
How would you describe the overall standard of entries and their presentation so far?
The standard is very high – not only in Europe, Japan or the USA, but also in regions like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and others. Interestingly enough, the standard of the entries coming from a specific region did not correlate with the number of entries. The overall standard of the presentation was also quite high. Not only regarding the quality of 2D renderings and graphics but also film, animations and information design elements which were able to communicate a holistic description of the projects. Some of the more complex projects cannot be understood by pictures alone and we were impressed by how carefully and clearly they were explained and communicated.
What would you like to see from the finalists when they present at the BraunPrize forum in September?
I’d like to see fresh, really innovative and meaningful ideas and concepts and learn more about the project background, the finalists themselves, and their intentions and creative processes.
Do you think the audience will be impressed?
I hope so! I experienced the audiences of the past BraunPrize forums as being very competent but also very enthusiastic. Their expectations will be very high but I’m sure they won’t be disappointed.
Are you looking forward to the BraunPrize forum and award ceremony?
Very much. It is a very glamorous event and I think it celebrates not only the BraunPrize finalists and winners but also creativity and ingenuity itself.
What do you think makes the BraunPrize a success?
The BraunPrize is regarded as one of the most prestigious awards for young designers because of the consistently high standard of the finalists and winners and the long history of the award and Braun design itself. It’s highly respected among designers and the public because it is obviously not just a marketing activity for the company but clearly aims at fostering innovative ideas, young talent and design awareness.
Established in 1968, the BraunPrize was Germany’s first international competition to promote the work of young designers.
Braun’s commitment to this cause is highly regarded by the design world and the design-aware public.
In sponsoring the BraunPrize, Braun seeks to highlight the importance of industrial design and innovative products and to promote ideas for consumer products that help people in all aspects of their daily lives.
Curve magazine is following the progress of the 2012 BraunPrize in each print edition and online.
For further information on the BraunPrize go to