This year’s emerging designers work with the human body from head to toe – literally. From custom-made sneakers designed and manufactured while you wait to furniture and objects that incorporate human hair, products re-examine traditional manufacturing processes and encourage users to reconsider their relationships with everyday objects.

Samy Rio produces objects that explore the juxtapositions between craftsmanship and industry, and traditions and new tools. In doing so, the designer questions the way products are made.

While a valet stand can be seen as a remnant from another era, Robert Hahn reinterprets the product with Tordu. Putting an innovative spin on the traditional technique of steaming and bending solid wood, the German designer twists flat wooden profiles instead. The resulting torsion becomes a functional part of the frame structure.

In both Thomas Schnur’s 21 Common Things exhibition at Passagen and the accompanying book, the designer reflects on the universality of everyday objects that transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries, such as a watering can or plastic bag.

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Philipp Weber uses ancestral knowledge to question what possibilities lie beneath the earth’s surface. In From Below, Weber deconstructs the coal-mining process by creating a miniature coking plant. Examining the manufacturing methods that have become part of our heritage, the designer considers the impact of humans on the fate of the planet.

Rahel Armbröster and Nathalie Sterzenbach draw inspiration for their ‘breathing door’ from pine trees, whose cones open in sunlight and close during rainfall. Domestic sensors and elements on the door regulate the room’s climate and temperature, and can be controlled by a smartphone app.

David Ciernicki developed a cunning connection system that allows furniture to be assembled, disassembled or modified at the drop of a hat. Called Major Tom, the space-saving, collapsible modules can be used in any which way.

A homage to the pre-digital era and a call for more interactivity in daily life, Vera Aldejohann’s Goldwaage works like a set of mechanical balance scales. If an item of clothing is removed from one side, the other lifts or drops. The design forces users to take action and examine the weight of their choices.

For The Colour of Hair, London-based Martijn Rigters and Fabio Hendry use human hair as an unlikely material to create patterns on custom-made stools, tables and other objects. Recycling hair from local salons, Rigters and Hendry transform cuttings into a sustainable, resistant ink, carbonizing keratin into hardened aluminium.

Leon Kucharski’s Temaki sneaker is quickly tailored to a customer’s foot before on the spot. In a performative act of production, the shoe’s design, manufacture, materials and tools determine the particularities of the result. The customer is able to witness the path the shoe takes before its first steps. 

Part of the Neue Türen presentation at IMM, a door by Anna-Lena Wolfrum utilizes materials and techniques from the motor and aerospace industries. Output features a wavelike door leaf constructed from wellboard and PUxx, an ecological material that’s both soft, durable and lightweight.

Check out KitchenLab for more from Frame at IMM Cologne.