ein&zwanzig newcomer awards: Best of Best distinction for multipurpose vacuum cleaner

Sep 6, 2021

The “ein&zwanzig” awards honour the excellent designs by international young designers every year. The German Design Council’s renowned awards for up-and-comers showcase the 21 best products designed by young talent. Today on 6 September, the high-calibre jury announced the winner of the coveted “Best of Best” special award: it goes to Ivo Erichsen and Tobias Bihlmeyer for their Super Vacuum Cleaner design. The innovative design combines a vacuum cleaner with a chair, coffee table and storage solution – and turns a household appliance that is only rated aesthetically to a limited extent into an attractive design piece. In addition, twenty other designs received the distinction of “Winner”.

An international jury selected these winners from 700 submissions across a total of 64 countries. The 14-person committee includes a young generation of successful designers like Hanne Willmann, Eva Marguerre and Marcel Besau, the Dutch design duo Raw Color (Daniera ter Haar, Christoph Brach), Chen Min from China and Coz Susani Design from the USA, as well as established names in the design world and industry experts such as Formafantasma, Christian Haas and Nina Bruun. Because an exhibition at the Salone der Mobile will not be possible due to the pandemic, this year’s winners will once again be presented in many different digital formats. The German Design Council will present all 21 awardees on the digital platform  and on its social media channels. Image and video documentation provide extensive background information about the award winners.

Best of Best: Super Vacuum Cleaner by Ivo Erichsen & Tobias Bihlmeyer

Ivo Erichsen and Tobias Bihlmeyer, students at the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam and founders of the design studio Superorganismus, are the genius behind the Super Vacuum Cleaner, a design that allows a vacuum cleaner to be used as a chair or coffee table in its downtime. It also offers storage space as opposed to just taking up space – which makes the Super Vacuum Cleaner useful even when it is not being used for cleaning. Thereby, the two young designers have turned a rarely considered household necessity into a real design piece that fits in any setting.

The cylindrical shape of the container tapers at the top. It is made of cork, a sustainable material that creates a pleasant environment with its discreet warmth and attractive look and feel. The soft material absorbs sound and has excellent soundproofing characteristics, reducing the noise the vacuum cleaner makes when operated.

A set of wheels gives the Super Vacuum Cleaner mobility. Applying weight from the top causes the wheels to recede into the housing and the container sits securely on the floor. A set of different lids transforms the vacuum cleaner into a variety of furniture pieces with ease: a wooden seat turns it into a stool, an attachable backrest makes it a chair and tabletops of different sizes create either a coffee table, side table or bedside table. The bagless vacuum cleaner features a dust canister and has enough space inside the wooden container to hold the vacuum hose. The power cord rewinds automatically.

Trends of the young design generation: ecological change, gender neutrality and work-from-home flexibility

Several winners of this year’s “ein&zwanzig” awards address ecological questions in design. Corteza by Alba Diaz Strum (ENSCI – Les Ateliers Paris, France) is a thermal cooler used as a shopping and picnic basket. This design also uses cork, in this case taking advantage of the material’s thermal or insulating properties. It is a natural way to improve the storage and transport of fresh foods. Sofie Aschan (Lund University, Sweden) has gone similarly low-tech with her design of a non-electric air conditioning solution. The Draft, an earthenware vessel, is filled with water and placed in front of an open window, where it cools the warm air from outside as it flows past, thus reducing the temperature in the room. It is a sustainable way to counter the constant energy consumption of conventional air conditioning units.

Gender neutrality is another aspect that the young design generation is addressing with more frequency. Christine Oehme (Berlin University of the Arts) was inspired by the concept that gender characteristics are not subject to “natural” laws, but have been taught and trained, to create her work, Werkelküche. It is a gender-neutral toy that kids can interpret and use as a workbench and kitchen alike.

The global Covid-19 pandemic and its radical shift in how living and working spaces are used also play an important role in this year’s “ein&zwanzig” awards. The relevance of intelligent, smoothly functioning products is reflected in New Work, a collection of furniture pieces designed by Lucy Braun and Lars Schiwietz (University of Applied Design Schwäbisch Gmünd). Portable work surfaces, height-adjustable tables and the versatility of the pieces quickly transform the living room into a workplace – and back. The shelf and storage system Frugal M.F.S by Merlin Everding (Berlin University of the Arts) can be used in lots of completely different contexts, such as in a dining room, living room or office, thanks to its adaptable design. The portable Beppo Bench by Tobias Trübenbacher (Berlin University of the Arts) is a solution for spontaneous meetings at the park: it can be folded, is lightweight and is quickly constructed, making it easy to take with you anywhere and making a spontaneous meet-up with friends outdoors much more comfortable.

Winner in the “Best of Best” category:

Super Vacuum Cleaner by Ivo Erichsen and Tobias Bihlmeyer, Germany (University of Applied Sciences Potsdam)

All awardees in the “Winner” category:

Project Void (chair) by Max Beckmann, Germany (Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle) Neozoon (light) by Lukas Heintschel, Germany (Munich University of Applied Sciences) Aisa chair by Tatu Laakso, Finland (Aalto University) Kunststoffhandwerk (table), by Rosa Heinz, Germany (Kunsthochschule Kassel) Draft (air conditioner) by Sofie Aschan, Sweden (Lund University) Alter Nature / Cloud (furniture collection) by Wing Yin Ng, United Kingdom (Aalto University) Mood of Light (light) by Manuel Diegruber, Germany (Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design) Corteza (cooler) by Alba Diaz Strum, Spain (ENSCI Les Ateliers, France) Werkelküche (toy) by Christine Oehme, Germany (Berlin University of the Arts) Pio (storage system) by Gabriel Steinmann, Germany (Rosenheim University of Applied Sciences) Li_chair by Filip Krampla, Czech Republic (Jan Evangelysta Purkyne in Usti nad Labem) New Work (furniture collection) by Lucy Braun and Lars Schiwietz, Germany (University of Applied Design Schwäbisch Gmünd) Beppo Bench by Tobias Trübenbacher, Germany (Berlin University of the Arts) Turn Tables (table collection) by Johannes Lorz, Germany (Coburg University of Applied Sciences) 8x8 (textile) by Magdalena Popp and Maximilian Alexander Gysau (Reutlingen University) Frugal M.F.S by Merlin Everding, Germany (Berlin University of the Arts) Relics (vessels) by Georgia von le Fort, Germany (Berlin University of the Arts) altro ponte (table) by Steffen Och, Germany (Kunsthochschule Kassel) Face To Face (vessels) by Sulamith Gutwein, Germany (Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle) Haptics of Cooking (kitchen set) by Boey Wang, China (Design Academy Eindhoven, Netherlands)

ein&zwanzig awards: international young-talent awards with a high-calibre jury

The German Design Council’s “ein&zwanzig” awards have been a relevant platform for young design talent internationally since 2017. The awards are directed towards design students and graduates with trendsetting work in furnishings, home accessories, lighting, floor and wall coverings, textiles and lifestyle. An international expert jury selects 21 outstanding works from among the entries, with one of these works receiving the “Best of Best” distinction.

German Design Council

The German Design Council has been operating since 1953 as one of the world’s leading centres of expertise in communication and knowledge transfer within design, branding and innovation. It is part of the worldwide design community and has always contributed to the establishment of global exchange and networking thanks to its international offering, promotion of new talent and memberships. With events, conventions, awards, jury meetings and expert committees, the Council connects its members and numerous other international design and branding experts, fosters discourse and provides important stimulation for the global economy. More than 350 businesses currently count among its members.


German Design Council
Janine Wunder, Vice President Communications and Marketing 
Phone +49 (0) 69 24 74 48 699

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