Dr.-Ing. Karl-Ulrich Köhler, chairman of the Steel Information Centre, Düsseldorf
Prof. Dr. Peter Zec, president of the world umbrella organisation of design ICSID, Montreal
Julian Brown
Piero Lissoni
Miki Astori
Karim Rashid
Prof. Rido Busse
Ernesto Gismondi
Paolo Pininfarina
Patrick le Quément
Johann Tomforde
Hans-Dieter Futschik
Paolo Pininfarina, Karim Rashid, moderator Elmar Schüller, Ernesto Gismondi and Patrick le Quément discussing the questions of the audience
Hans-Dieter Futschik, Elmar Schüller and Johann Tomforde


Steel in Form – Between Luxury and Durability

The International Steel Forum Design, which was cast with high-profile speakers and held under the motto “Steel in Form – Between Luxury and Durability” as part of the “Changing Values” STAHL 2005 (steel 2005) annual meeting in Düsseldorf on 10 November, was a great success. 


Ten internationally renowned designers from Europe and the US had been invited by the co-operation consisting of Steel Institute VDEh, the Wirtschaftsvereinigung Stahl (association of steel producers) and red dot to give presentations about luxury and durability of design solutions involving steel. 1,500 participants had registered for the International Steel Forum Design.
Moderated by Elmar Schüller, the managing director of red dot design promotion, the forum offered the large audience an exciting variety of presentations on luxury and durability of steel in the market sectors “Dwelling and Living”, “Luxury and Lifestyle” as well as “Motorcars and Mobility”. After each topic the audience also had the opportunity to ask the speakers questions, which were then answered and discussed on stage.
After the Steel Forum Design had been officially opened by Dr.-Ing. Karl-Ulrich Köhler, chairman of the Steel Information Centre, Düsseldorf, and Prof. Dr. Peter Zec, president of the world umbrella organisation of design ICSID, Montreal, the conference programme began with the British designer Julian Brown.

“Dwelling and Living“
The designer Julian Brown, who was voted “Royal Designer for Industry”, is running his own design studio, “Studio Brown” in Bath and has gained international recognition with his innovative products for Alfi, Rexite, and Zwilling J-A. Henckels. Julian Brown introduced a project, which he had already been working on for approximately four years and which completely embodies “Steel in Form”: the “Eternity Chair” made of stainless steel. In his presentation he told the exciting story of the Eternity Chair. He reported how worn old chairs inspired him to create a chair that outlived time and that even gained in character over time. At that stage it had already been clear to him that such an unbreakable chair could only be made of one material: stainless steel. In an exciting summary the designer presented the underlying thoughts of the project to the audience and involved them in the creation of the “Eternity Chair”.
The Italian Piero Lissoni was also invited as an expert for the market segment of “Dwelling and Living”. The Milan designer, founder of the Milan design company Lissoni Associati, specialises in interior design and product design and has for many years been working for companies such as Boffi, Capellini, and Cassina. For Lissoni, who sees himself as a designer and an architect at the same time, steel was “one of the best materials in the world”. He introduced impressive examples of his own works with stainless steel. The designs range from kitchens through interiors of luxury hotels and sailing yachts to lamps and clocks. In his presentation Lissoni made clear that he placed special importance on the sensitive use of the materials’ aesthetics and of the environment in which they were integrated.
Mike Astori, who specialises in furniture design and interior design in his Milan studio and who has gained an international reputation with his designs for Driade, explained the great significance steel has for the quality of furniture and interiors today with the help of examples of his own works for Driade. For Astori, whose designs are clear, light and reduced, steel has become a leitmotif, even the source of inspiration for a large part of his objects. The combination of steel and glass, which corresponded to his need for clear and light structures, was particularly interesting for him, said Astori. The fact that the production of steel included traditional processing, despite it being a high performance material, gave it a special value.

“Luxury and Lifestyle“
The topic “Luxury and Lifestyle” was next and a very special presentation awaited the audience right at the start. Karim Rashid, one of the most sought-after designers worldwide and shooting star in lifestyle design, surprised the audience with a spectacular presentation. True to his motto “I want to change the world”, Karim Rashid, who has a studio in New York, showed with the help of his own designs how different our world could look and how design could contribute to a rigorous beautification of our environment and increase our quality of life. It was his wish that people lived in the mode of their own time, took part in the contemporary world and freed themselves from nostalgia, antiquated traditions, obsolete rituals, and tacky meaninglessness. If it were human nature to live in the past then changing the world meant changing human nature was his conclusion.

Prof. Rido Busse, owner and chairman of the advisory committee of busse design ulm, also fascinated the audience with a rather unusual presentation. Busse, who initiated the negative award “Plagiarius” for particularly shameless theft of ideas in 1977, dedicated his presentation to the topic “Aesthetics – pleasure factor in design”. Almost 99 percent of consumers, 90 percent of entrepreneurs and even almost half of all designers defined the term design wrongly, said Busse. It was similar to aesthetics, a term which had become reduced in meaning to a synonym of “the beautiful”. In a very humorous little live performance Busse explained the four essential design criteria “safe technical function”, “economic production function”, “self-explanatory ergonomic function”, and “target group specific aesthetic function” with graphic examples and demonstrated that design without aesthetics was not imaginable and that it was even possible to establish a pleasure scale for aesthetics. That aesthetics – positive as well as negative - was the only motivation factor, may have been a surprising insight for many listeners.
After this little excursion the focus went back to the topic “Steel in Form”. The Italian designer Ernesto Gismondi, managing director of the Artemide Group introduced the material steel with its outstanding aesthetic and mechanical qualities as a long-standing partner in Artemide quality projects. Steel, explained Gismondi, was very efficient, could be used in a great range of products while allowing a high degree of personalisation, which was a particular feature of luxury products designed in Italy. With the help of the introduced Artemide projects Gismondi demonstrated how steel has accompanied Artemide for many years. Today there was a tendency to integrate several materials in a product, explained Gismondi and introduced the “Pipe” lamp designed by Herzog & De Meuron as a perfect synthesis of the combination of steel, silicone, and plastic.

“Motorcars and Mobility“
The Italian designer Paolo Pininfarina, president and CEO of Pininfarina Extra and member of the board of directors of Pininfarina, spoke about the use of steel in the market sector “Automobiles and Mobility”. From the Lancia Aprilia Coupé through the Dino Berlinetta to the Ferrari Enzo, Pininfarina provided the technology and the know-how for innovations of speed. In his presentation Paolo Pininfarina not only cast an exciting look on the technical challenges in automobile and design development, but also showed the great creative potential of design with innovative and easily mouldable materials such as steel.
Patrick le Quément, Senior Vice President Corporate Design of Renault and member of the board was the second expert to lecture on the topic “Automobiles and Mobility”. Among his greatest designs are the Ford Sierra, the Renault Twingo, and the Mégane II. In his presentation le Quément in particular focused on the combination of style and steel. Steel enabled an enormous variety of forms and an automobile basically carried steel in its genes, explained Quément.

Johann Tomforde, the third speaker in the market segment “Motorcars and mobility” has been managing director of the hymer idc Innovation and Design Centre in Pforzheim since 1998 and develops leisure vehicles and automobiles. Since 2000 he is also working as company and management consultant for renowned European companies. In his presentation “Authenticity and an exclusive mix of materials – concepts for a mobile life” Tomforde demonstrated how out of the crossover of technology and material, adventure and everyday life, the automobile has developed from a technical product into a highly emotional object.
The International Steel Forum Design ended with an entertaining and informative presentation by Hans-Dieter Futschik on the topic of “Steel and Sensuality“. As design director of DaimlerChrysler Futschik is responsible for the design of the large model ranges of Mercedes-Benz and Maybach. Under his management his international team has developed numerous highly successful model ranges such as the old and the new S Class, the CLS and the Maybach. Automobiles were also made of steel because it gave them sensual forms explained Futschik. In his presentation he explained why automobile forms appealed to our emotions and the mechanisms of this phenomenon. Futschik demonstrated clearly which senses were used in this process and how designers worked to appeal to our senses and design successful brands.