From Objects for the Neighbour to Objects and the Factory: the one and only – well, actually second – exhibition initiated by a group of designers and presented at Passagen, the side programme of imm Cologne.

This year Karoline Fesser, Kai Linke and Thomas Schnur invited another set of designers, who they “appreciate for their work ethics”, to join them, together with photographer Sven Lützenkirchen

One of the surprises in the show was Elisa Strozyk’s Ceramic Table series. The designers contacted Elisa, who has been working with veneer for half a decade, to ask if she would be interested in developing a new product specially for the exhibition. It gave her the perfect opportunity to get in touch with a ceramic workshop located near her apartment in Berlin that she  has always considered working with.

For his K Table, Kai Linke approached a structural steelwork factory, and used their existing produce to make side tables. This appreciation of what already exists is taken further with Thomas Schnur’s interpretation of a bistro table. The waste generated in creating his Construct Table led to a collaboration with Samuel Treindl, who used the leftover material to create his Construct Table Shelf.

Daniel Lorch’s Moorea table lamp, supported by Philips, uses super-skinny layers of organic molecules called OLEDs, which give out light when they’re activated by an electric current. The link here may well be a company rather than a factory, but the lamp speaks for itself regardless.

The strongest reference to factories was seen in Sven Lützenkirchen’s offering. The photographer took shots of factory landscapes, and then cropped and mirrored them. The result is a series of abstract images – at once contemporary, figurative and manipulated – that reminds you of a Rorschach test. It would have been great if the images represented the factories used by each of the designers in the show, but they didn’t. Regardless of that, however, they did add a second imaginative layer to the product-related work in the space.

It can be safely said that you are guaranteed to find design objects for everyday use in Cologne. But the ones found at ‘Object and the Factory’ are all related to each designer’s individual interpretation of the factory. Some of them are literal realisations, others a symbolic reference. Thomas Schnur explains that the exhibition’s intention was to make a selected presentation of ambitious designers, and Karoline Fesser adds that they are already debating next year’s theme. Because that’s what they think imm is missing: presentation possibilities of the individual designer, not just the company.

Photos Matylda Krzykowski