Form & function

Form & function
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This article first appeared in haven, The Edge Malaysia, on Issue #78 April + May 2016.


A look at what constitutes good design through some of the winning entries of Ambiente’s Design Plus Award 2016


Every year at Ambiente, the world’s leading trade fair for the consumer goods industry that is held annually in Frankfurt, Germany, all manner of products for the home — be they furnishing, lighting or kitchen and dining ware — are showcased. However, not all products are created equal; some are true embodiments of a balance between form and function, the hallmark of good design. 

Ambiente hosts the Design Plus Award exhibition in an effort to celebrate products that are well conceptualised and to highlight those distinguished by outstanding functionality and aesthetic qualities, drawing only from items offered by the companies exhibiting at the fair. Winners are determined by an independent jury and this year, 27 products and product series — the majority of which was homeware — were awarded based on the criteria of aesthetic, design quality, functionality and sustainability. 

Professor of product design Hansjerg Maier-Achen, who has his own design practice, conducted a design tour of some of the winning entries with press members to further illuminate what constitutes good design. “Design today means details,” he says — in a nutshell, how an everyday object can be made better by rethinking conventions and introducing change or an element of surprise or delight. Sometimes, the tweaks are not always immediately apparent but they reveal themselves when you use it — it’s more intuitive or user-friendly and enables performing everyday tasks more seamless and pleasant. 

The following Design Plus Award 2016 winners illustrate how there is more to their design than meets the eye.

Riedel Crystal Superleggero Series


This handcrafted crystal wine glassware boasts an ultra-light design that requires extreme skill to produce. Its slender silhouetted design is accented by the thinnest and most strikingly slim stem in the brand’s history. The glass in the series is also taller, and all of them are fully dishwasher safe despite their boundary-pushing thinness.

Guzzini Le Murrine 


Inspired by the Murano glassmaking tradition, these acrylic bowls are made possible by Guzzini’s exclusive tri-colour technology — the three overlapping plastic layers are achieved through three successive moulding phases, creating a play of colours and alternating between opaque and transparent, glossy and satin-finished surfaces. The company is the first in the world to introduce tri-colour effect dining ware.

Villeroy & Boch Pasta Passion Series


This series of plates and bowls are designed to make serving and eating pasta that much easier. The Pasta Plate and Pasta Bowl have a nook to rest your fork while the Spaghetti Plate has a round indent to make winding long noodles a breeze without the need for a spoon.

Alessi Opus


This elegant centrepiece has a unique, irregularly shaped open-work pattern that is meticulously laser cut. Reminiscent of fabric lace, the pattern conveys lightness while its sizeable dimensions make for a bold statement.

Bosign Spreader Knife Air


Crafted in solid wood or stainless steel, these stylish butter knives feature an innovative handle that elevates the spreader blade when it is laid on a surface, so any mess is avoided or minimised.

Emform LYN Wall Shelf


Here is a great example of reworking an age-old design for a wall shelf for a sleeker, more seamless look. Books appear to float in the air when they are placed on it, thanks to the ingenious mounting that makes it virtually invisible — all that that can be seen on the wall is a decorative line.

Herder KB2 Brot Beidhänder 


This modest-looking bread knife sports an ergonomic design and innovative windmill blades with a two-sided scalloped edge that is hand polished. The olive wood handle is shaped to afford excellent handling, which translates into smooth cutting motion.

höfats Cube


This cleverly designed metal Cube is a fire pit and charcoal grill, but can be converted into a stool or side table when no fire is needed. Putting out the fire is easy — inside is a rotatable fire bowl that remains in balance due to gravity when the Cube is turned around and the fire is suppressed and extinguished.