Frankfurt am Main, 17 January 2022

The ICONIC AWARDS 2022: Innovative Interior reveal the trends in the furnishings industry and developments in interior design. The German Design Council presents these prestigious awards each year to honour the most-important examples of design innovation internationally. The design focus this year is again increasingly on products that have particular relevance during this ongoing pandemic. When making its selection, the jury considered people’s changed living conditions and their new demands for utility in their devices, furniture and interior design. Having received 450 submissions, the jury awarded 22 designs its coveted “Best of Best” label, 75 designs its “Winner” label and 15 designs its “Selection” label.

The year’s trends
The ICONIC AWARDS 2022: Innovative Interior are an internationally recognised competition for innovative design. As part of the German Design Council’s ICONIC WORLD platform, they show the most-significant developments and trends in design and furnishings each year. A key element of the ICONIC WORLD platform is the targeted way it brings together architects, product designers and property developers with the furnishings industry. The selection of the award winners was overseen by industrial designer Carole Baijings (Amsterdam), Monica Förster from Monica Förster Design Studio (Stockholm), design journalist Barbara Friedrich (Hamburg), Benjamin Wolf from Funktion Möbel (Darmstadt) and Sebastian Wrong from Established and Sons/Wrong Shop (London).

The Covid-19 pandemic was again a pervasive theme for this year’s awards. Explaining its choices, the jury said, “The pandemic is resulting in a variety of deep changes to day-to-day life. There are numerous designers responding to these changes with vision. Work meetings and private events are being held by video conference, and online delivery services and retailers are supplying people with basic food and goods. Meanwhile the range of digital entertainment media has reached record levels. The added burden and the increased stress factor at work and among families are paired with a loss of options for relaxation, exercise and recreation. Travelling to exotic destinations or partying is out of the question. Many of our priorities have changed. This has had a substantial impact on design, as we saw during our evaluation of the many entries for the ICONIC AWARDS 2022: Innovative Interior.”

More information about the award-winning projects.

Smart together
There is a trend involving heavily increased demand for hygiene products and new hygiene concepts in a wide variety of design domains. Hygiene products are becoming important work for designers and are incorporating smart technology. OPHARDT, for example, shows this with its SanTRAL® Plus Series featuring intelligent soap, toilet paper and paper towel dispensers and its hygienic waste receptacles. Similarly, VOLA’s elegant RS11 dispenser for disinfectant and liquid and foam soap is another example of hygiene in design. Other companies are combining multiple hygienic functions. Elica, for instance, has Ikona Maxxi Pure, which pairs a noiseless extractor hood with an air purifier to ensure a pleasant and healthy indoor climate while relieving allergy symptoms. The GRANDIS E kitchen taps from SCHELL run on sensor-operated controls and boost drinking water hygiene thanks to a safety feature that flushes out the cold and hot pipes. There are electronic, network-compatible taps for public and commercial spaces and they can be controlled using the SWS water management system. Many other innovative ideas draw on digital support from things such as apps, sensors, electronic services and web-based programs. In doing so, they make it easier to follow social-distancing recommendations and minimise infection risks. Most importantly, they are becoming a fundamental requirement for our social coexistence.


Less is more
The pandemic can also be seen in the impacts it has had on the formal and aesthetic design of the objects that we surround ourselves with. In the place of bright colours, playful appearances, wasteful materials and images of tropical plants, designers are relying on cool, muted tones, a clean design language and a minimalism involving only the essentials. This new simplicity includes an emphasis on fine and elegant structural elements and honest, subtly designed material surfaces. The times call for a sense of understatement as opposed to exuberant gestures. There are signs of a departure from a postmodern “anything goes” and a return to the design values of the classic modern, a “back to Bauhaus”.

French architect Jean Nouvel demonstrates this in his choice of monochromatic, reflective steel fronts for the Reflect kitchen for Reform. Combined with matt, reflective surfaces, they have an extremely subtle effect. The BU Series from Foshan Blue Sanitary Ware Co., Ltd. is a range of bathroom objects that include a structural framework for a glass shower cabin as well as handles and holders. Their presence is almost ephemeral. REFLEX² Floor from serien Raumleuchten is a minimalist floor lamp consisting of a fine framework structure which creates an intense ambience in the space where it stands.


Homo movens 
Humans are born to move. They have high demands for mobility which have risen even further with Covid-19. Be it a working world that strongly values flexibility, remote working that bypasses the winter months with sunny southern-European climes or working from home by transforming the dining table into a desk and the living room into a nursery during the day. Life has become more adaptable, including and especially within a person’s own four walls. It is a trend that is also making objects of design more hybrid. Functions are being merged with each other, stationary is turning into mobile. Set-up and dismantling can be accomplished faster and more easily, while the designs of objects are becoming more universal and adaptable for different contexts.

Zero from Alegre Design is a modular space management system that can be constructed without any complicated tools. It functions as a shelf, desk or wardrobe, whether in an office, shop, living room, bedroom or nursery. Bavul by Lea Aviani for prostoria is a multifunctional upholstered object that can serve as a simple couch or bed with a high level of comfort. qu, a battery-operated outdoor light from, makes balmy summer nights (and other nights) last longer with a pleasant, warm light. It can be attached to a wall, tree or veranda or balcony ceiling in a matter of seconds.


Material innovation 
Innovation in materials is a key driver of design. It can overcome previous limits, help create new forms and objects, minimise carbon emissions and therefore soften the climate crisis, all while improving the users’ well-being. Sustainable approaches include using organic raw materials such as wood, which traps carbon dioxide during its growth process, or reusing locally available materials as a base material for new objects of design. The PEEL lounge chair from VANK is a striking example of this, with its seat shell being made from reused wood scraps. The innovative micro-mesh technology lets waviness be integrated into the production process.

All of the “Best of Best” winners’ projects can be found here.


The German Design Council
The German Design Council has operated as one of the world’s leading centres of expertise in communication and knowledge transfer within design, branding and innovation since 1953. 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.


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