Berlin's DMY International Design Festival

Posted on June 9, 2016 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

Kraftwerk Mitte  Kraftwerk Mitte

The design festival's 2016 location – the former power plant, Kraftwerk Mitte


Back in 2010, I visited Berlin and DMY International Design Festival for the first time; and not only did I fall in love with the city, I also found the festival inspiring. The 5-day event took place at the splendid Tempelhof Airport – a disused pre-World War II architectural masterpiece designed by Ernst Sagebiel and built between 1936 and 1941.


Tempelhof Airport  S8003516-min

Tempelhof Airport

dmy berlin 2010

DMY 2010 at Tempelhof Airport


I have been longing to return to Berlin and DMY, and it was only this year that I managed to organise this overdue trip. The 3-day festival (from 2nd until 5th June) took place at the former power plant Kraftwerk Mitte built between 1961 and 1964 before being abandoned in 1997. Since then, it has been part of the techno scene and is now known to music fans and art enthusiasts alike.


dmy berlin 2016  dmy berlin 2016

dmy berlin 2016

dmy berlin 2016

The massive industrial interior setting


This year, the festival was shorter and smaller than the one I attended in 2010; and unfortunately, it was hugely disappointing too. Although I have been complaining about the London design festival becoming too commercial, but it is still one of the most anticipated and mega design event that attract talents and big names from all around the world. In contrast, this year's DMY lacked ambition, scale, and most of all, originality and substance. The industrial space was cool, but perhaps it was slightly too dark for a design exhibition. Few projects at the event grabbed my attention, and I felt that many of the works were too lifestyle-focused that lacked vision and innovation.


dmy berlin 2016

Unicorn berlin limited 

dmy berlin 2016


2nd row: Small tables by the Berlin-based Unicorn Berlin Limited


One project that I liked was the Poured Collection by Danish designer, Troels Flensted, a winner of the new talents competition. The pieces in his collection are handmade from mineral powder, water-based acrylic polymer and a small amount of pigment. The mixture is poured into a mould where the material flows together and creates its own patterns – these ‘frozen moments’ make every piece unique. I think his experimental and unconventional technique enables him to create unique pieces that are aesthetically intriguing and quite striking.


Anastasiya Koshcheeva  icoon for refugees

Vendulka Prchalová

DSC_0328-min  DSC_0331-min

orsi Orban

xiao xin wang  troels flensted

Ugly fruits

Top left: Stool by Anastasiya Koshcheeva; Top right: Icoon for Refugees; 2nd row: Tables by Vendulka Prchalová; 3rd left: Wearing water by Nacood Lab.; 3rd right: Slow coffee by Gemma Leamy; 4th row: lighting by Orsi Orban; 5th left: Flower Worm House by Xiao Xin Wang; 5th right: Poured collection by Troels Flensted; Bottom row: Ugly fruits


I was equally fascinated by Chinese designer Xiao Xin Wang's Flower Worm House. The studio raise silkworms and use their abandoned cocoons to make moving magnetic jewellery as if the the silkworms were still in their houses.

New eco-conscious companies around the world are trying to tackle vegetables and fruits waste due their imperfect aesthetics, and in Germany, 18 million tons of food are wasted every year. Querfeld was set up in Berlin to collect and find homes for these rejected fruits and veggies, and make consumers be aware of this global issue.



Hendrick's gin's stand at the festival


I was hoping to spend hours at the festival's opening night, but the content was not inspiring enough for me to stay. I returned again for a second viewing before the show ended, but it only validated my initial impression. I couldn't help wondering if it was the issue of the applicants or the curators, or a combination of both; but whatever the reason, the festival's organiser needs to re-evaluate the ethos of the festival for their 15th anniversary next year.

This post was posted in Architecture, Travel, Design festivals & shows, Design, Berlin and was tagged with architecture, Berlin, DMY design festival