Focus Open 2018

Baden-Württemberg International Design Award


Competition as a means of advancement
Focus Open invites companies and design agencies from all over the world to submit their most innovative product and concept solutions and enter its competition for outstanding and forward-thinking design. The Baden-Württemberg International Design Award is a permanent feature of the German and international competition scene. Held under the Focus Open label, it enjoys high standing among companies and design agencies alike.
Because of its non-commercial orientation, the contest fulfils its mandate to promote design and enables even the smallest companies to take part. For the prizewinners and those honoured with distinctions, the Focus Gold, Focus Silver and Focus Special Mention awards constitute an effective tool for strengthening their brand, not just in terms of its external impact on the market but internally as well, within the winning companies and the collaborations between design agencies and their clients.

Participants and awards 
This year too, the Focus Open jury evaluated entries submitted in 18 different categories. The product innovations came from Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Slovakia. The jury selected a total of 59 prizewinners from among all the entries submitted. The premium Focus Gold accolade for outstanding design was awarded to 18 products. Fifteen entries received the Focus Silver for above-average design achievements, while the Focus Special Mention distinction was presented to 26 products for their innovativeness.
Participants could allocate their entries to the following categories:
  • Production, assembly, logistics
  • Medicine, rehabilitation, geriatric medicine
  • Bathrooms, sanitaryware, wellness
  • Kitchen, household
  • Tableware and kitchenware
  • Home interiors
  • Contract interiors
  • Ambience, lifestyle
  • Lighting
  • Media, audio, optical equipment
  • Leisure, outdoor
  • Sport
  • Children, family
  • Building technology
  • Public design
  • Transport, traffic
  • Design studies
  • Sustainability

A fair jury, a fair assessment
One special feature of the Focus Open competition is that no pre-selection of the entries is made prior to the judging. Every single product submitted is presented to the jury for assessment. In order to ensure a fair evaluation, the jurors agree not to submit any products whose development they were involved with. Almost without exception, the assessment of the entries was conducted on the basis of the original product. The judging comprised several rounds and gave rise to some lively discussions. The jury line-up and its combined experience from a wide range of different sectors and product categories helped ensure fair and competent assessments from a variety of very different perspectives.

The entries were evaluated by the following experts in the course of a two-day judging session:
Christoph Behling, Christoph Behling Design, United Kingdom
Anita Leitmeyr, Tribecraft AG, Switzerland
Prof. Ulrike Rahe, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Caspar Schmitz, dreikant GbR, Germany
Thomas Starczewski, designship, Germany
Prof. Birgit Weller, Hochschule für Technik u. Wirtschaft (HTW) Berlin, Germany 

The jurors based their assessment on the following design criteria:
design quality, functionality, innovativeness, ergonomics, interface design, product typography, ecology, sustainability, perceived value, look and feel, emotionality, brand fit.

A valuable distinction for the prizewinners
The non-commercial nature of the competition and the moderate participation fees give even very small and emerging companies the opportunity to enter their innovative products and compete at international level. The competition pursues the declared aim of highlighting tendencies in design, uncovering totally new solutions and, most importantly of all, promoting and assisting the annual prizewinners with the marketing of their innovations. The awards are particularly beneficial for brand communications: the Focus Gold, Focus Silver and Focus Special Mention labels are a mark of quality and a valuable tool for distinguishing products within the brand profile. In addition, a wide range of other measures help generate publicity and awareness: the festive award ceremony, the exhibition at the MIK (Museum, Information, Art) in Ludwigsburg, which lasts several weeks, as well as the extensive online presentation and premium exhibition catalogue that is distributed all over the world.
Being honoured with a design award sends a signal that the submitted work is held in high esteem by carefully selected experts. It is a signal that can have a positive impact within big companies too, and represents an important endorsement for all those involved with the development process. It can boost both motivation and identification with the company and its products and help reinforce confidence in the collaboration between designers and companies.

MIK, Museum Information Kunst
Eberhardstraße 1
D-71634 Ludwigsburg

13 October to 25 November 2018
daily 10.00 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays 10.00 a.m. to 9 p.m.
except public holiday 1 November

Sunday, 14 October, 4 p.m.
Sunday, 04 November, 4 p.m.
Thursday, 22 November, 6.30 p.m.

Admission to the exhibition and guided tours is free.

Production, assembly, logistics

Tarvos 60
Snatch Block

Rotzler Holding GmbH + Co. KG
D-79585 Steinen

Defortec GmbH
D-72135 Dettenhausen

Especially in emergency recovery operations, snatch blocks are highly sought-after – if the direction of pull has to be changed, for instance, or the winch being used doesn’t provide sufficient pulling force. This snatch block doubles the performance of a winch on the spot. However, the weight of the snatch block, which measures up to 650 millimetres, plays a key role in ensuring the necessary flexibility. As a result, the two side panels are made of die-cast aluminium, while various recesses and apertures further reduce the mass. The dynamic design visualises the direction of the forces and provides sufficient protection for the more sensitive components under tough everyday conditions.

A highly integrated product that has been thought through right down to the last detail and clearly reflects its robustness in its design language. The design establishes a direct link with that of the manufacturer’s winches and develops it in a specific direction. The snatch block thus proves that even equipment intended for extreme fields of operation can be optimised by design.

Medicine, rehabilitation, geriatric medicine

Prophyflex 4
Dental air polisher

Kavo Dental GmbH
D-88400 Biberach

D-88400 Biberach

Regular professional cleaning of the teeth and gums is an essential part of preventive healthcare. The newly designed air polishing device is used to clean the teeth above the gingival margin as well as any periodontal pockets that may be present and ensures more effective treatment of the latter thanks to its very thin tip. The universally usable device has three cleaning intensities and produces less powder haze than is generally the case.
Two grip sleeves in different lengths make it easy to adapt the polisher to individual ergonomic needs, while the gap-free surfaces and large radii improve hygiene. The entire device can be taken apart and sterilised.

A very innovative dental appliance that is excellently balanced, sits perfectly in the hand and is suitable even for long work days. The seamless transitions between the individual parts are exemplary and the fresh colours are nothing less than striking in the field of dental medicine. 

Tableware and kitchenware

Nordic Kitchen
Thermal cafetière 

Eva Solo A/S
DK-2760 Måløv

Tools Design
DK-2400 Copenhagen

The latest member of Eva Solo’s Nordic Kitchen family is a masterpiece of simplicity and features the same attractive mix of materials as the thermos jug. The brushed stainless steel cafetière is based on the same principle as its familiar glass counterparts: the ground coffee is placed directly in the pot, which is then filled with hot water. Next, the stainless steel plunger is fitted in place and pushed down after several minutes. The coffee is now ready to serve from the drip-free spout. The wooden handle is pleasant to the touch and forms a deliberate contrast with the cylindrical stainless steel body of the pot. But this cafetière comes with an additional bonus that is not to be underestimated: thanks to its insulating effect, the coffee stays hot for longer.

A product that is as attractive to touch as it is to look at. What’s more, it’s made to last – thanks to materials designed for longevity. The clear-cut spout prevents drips, the wooden handle is easy to grip and the pot cuts a slender figure despite its double-walled construction. 

Home interiors

Shelving system

Tojo Möbel GmbH
D-73614 Schorndorf

Bastian Prieler
D-32756 Detmold

The variable shelving system consists of just three basic and add-on elements in different heights and can be adapted to any room footprint. Depending on requirements, it can be used as a solitary unit, sideboard or room divider, or even to fill an entire wall. The untreated edges of the white-coated MDF base and side elements add surprising accentuation without disrupting the furniture’s neat and tidy look. Assembly requires minimal effort and neither connectors nor tools are necessary.

A simply constructed but compelling furniture system with a captivatingly simple connection principle. The profile used to join the individual elements doubles as the hallmark of the design. Although all the individual parts are only slotted together, the resulting furniture is extremely stable and rigid and can be varied to suit requirements in next to no time. 

Home interiors

Chair series

Wagner Topstar GmbH
D-86863 Langenneufnach

Id Aid GmbH
D-70176 Stuttgart

Consisting of a chair, a bar stool and a second, smaller stool, the product family picks up on the classic archetype of the tavern chair but gives its appearance and functionality an attractive contemporary twist. The backrest and seat consist of a single plastic shell and are the structural linchpin of the design. Equipped with the invisibly integrated and patented Dondola joint, which decouples the rigid connection between the seat and base, the pan encourages minor movements and thus helps prevent back problems.
Thanks to the various colour options, the family of chairs is compatible with virtually any interior style. Different material combinations are also available: when equipped with metal legs, for instance, the chairs can even be used outdoors.

Intended for large-scale production, the family of chairs owes its calm and highly distinctive character to its graphic contours and the combination of wood and plastic. Despite the absence of padding, the furniture is surprisingly comfortable – largely due to the responsive seat. Closer inspection reveals just how sophisticated pared-down design can be. 

Contract interiors

USM Haller E
Furniture system

USM U. Schärer Söhne AG
CH-3110 Münsingen

Paul Schärer, Prof. Fritz Haller, Alexander Schärer, Dr. Thomas Dienes

Even classics are adapting to contemporary requirements – as demonstrated by the legendary USM Haller furniture system, which is now available in electrified form. As well as dimmable lighting elements, USB chargers can now be built into the system’s tubular frame too. And thanks to newly designed ball joints, tubes and special connectors, no cables are required to provide the furniture with 24 volts of electricity; the power supply is thus completely invisible. As a result, the furniture system doesn’t look any different than before, despite its enhanced functionality. The LED elements can be used to illuminate drawer interiors, provide orientation or cast indirect light on the wall. The power adapter is located under the furniture, from where the energy flows straight into the structure.

An outstanding example of the evolutionary development and modernisation of a tried and trusted product system. Thanks to the wireless power supply, the iconic design remains unaffected despite the system’s additional functions. What’s more, the absence of cables simplifies assembly and usage.

Contract interiors

Multifunctional module

wd3 GmbH
D-70174 Stuttgart


It’s actually just a simple solid, a rectangular cuboid, even if the handle openings on every surface and laser-textured finish indicate that it’s far more than just a box. In fact, it’s this very simplicity that makes the 1.4-kilogram brick suitable for an almost infinite variety of uses, for instance as a mobile seat in offices and nurseries, a spontaneous shelf or an impromptu conference table. That’s because the blocks can be added together to create bigger units – and subtracted again just as easily. Backrests, shelf trays and belt connectors make the modules even more flexible. Made of expanded polypropylene, the elements are completely recyclable, easy to clean, odourless and even available with a Class B1 fire rating.

It’s astonishing to see what possibilities reduction can result in. Thanks to its simplicity, the Xbrick can be used in a wide variety of ways, either on its own or in combination with others of its species. The material is soft and warming to the touch and the textured finish adds a hint of dynamic sophistication to the simple shape. 

Ambience, lifestyle

Eyewear frame

Rolf Spectacles
A-6671 Weißenbach a. Lech

Marija Iljazovic

Once again, Rolf Spectacles is setting new standards with this eyeglass frame: smart yet casual, it’s light as a feather despite the big, almost angular lenses and made of pure wood without so much as a single screw. It’s a good 10 years since the still-young company launched its first spectacles with a wood-only hinge. Since then, a lot of development and fine-tuning has taken place: the new Flexlock hinge is a clever symbiosis of highly compressed wood and natural rubber that likewise dispenses with screws, requires zero maintenance and springs back into place from any direction.
Every pair of spectacles is handmade at the company’s Tyrol location. Thanks to the combination of different types of wood, each and every model is an individual one-off with a unique grain pattern and colouring.

Even when it comes to spectacle frames, the possibilities for new features are seemingly endless. In this case the hinges play a particularly important role and are made entirely of wood, which is both pleasant to the touch and weighs very little. An O-ring ensures a robust and malleable connection between the frame and earpieces, which makes the understated spectacles unusually hardwearing. 


Salt & Pepper
Table lamp

Tobias Grau GmbH
D-25462 Rellingen

Tobias Grau

Because the energy for the five-watt LED module in the umbrella-shaped head comes from the integrated battery, the handy little lamp can be used anywhere – without a power cable or electric socket. Depending on the light output selected, it has a runtime of between four and 15 hours and is dimmed by means of a pushbutton on the top of the shade. As with traditional halogen light sources, the colour temperature changes with the brightness of the light: from 2,700 kelvin at the maximum output of 450 lumen to a particularly warm 2,200 kelvin when fully dimmed.

The luminaire’s double-cone shape resembles a mushroom and intuitively indicates its mobile character. Besides being pleasantly lightweight, the lamp illuminates the surface it stands on with very balanced, glare-free indirect light. 


Pendant light

Sattler GmbH
D-73035 Göppingen

D-73760 Ostfildern

Despite being attached to nothing but an asymmetrically positioned power cable, the slender, rod-shaped luminaire floats in space in perfect equilibrium. That’s partly due to the precise distribution of weight inside the luminaire, and partly to the fact that it can be adjusted from a horizontal to a tilted position by turning the knurled nuts on the ends of the aluminium profile. A built-in sensor permits touch-free dimming of the integrated light-emitting diodes, which produce a meticulously defined beam angle. The luminaire is available with an understated brushed finish, as well as in a polished version and various anodised colours.

Its filigree appearance isn’t the only surprising feature of this luminaire: thanks to its asymmetrical suspension, it performs a permanent and adjustable balancing act. As a result, several luminaires can be positioned to produce the same kind of playful effect as a mobile.

Media, audio, optical equipment


d&b Audiotechnik GmbH
D-71522 Backnang   

Mathias Christner, Frank Bothe,
Michael Eckstein, Fritz W. Wurster

The loudspeakers are part of the SL Series, an audio system for professional users that is just as suitable for mobile indoor and outdoor applications as it is for permanent installation. The system delivers precise directivity behaviour over the entire operating range and lowers the sound level to the side and back in order to reduce acoustic emissions outside the audience zone.
The two loudspeaker models, which have different horizontal dispersion patterns, are used in large-format line arrays. The ergonomic handles and a new rigging procedure simplify handling and speed up the setup process. The SL-SUB subwoofer is designed for flying rather than ground stacks.

The design of the addable loudspeakers is characterised by a high degree of functionality, extreme reduction and meticulously conceived details. The convenient handles, neat and tidy back views and smooth, sedate fronts with the subtly integrated brand icon deserve special mention.

Media, audio, optical equipment

Brain Music
EEG headset

NL-5656 AE Eindhoven

GBO Innovation Makers
NL-5706 ST Helmond

This headset uses the principle of the electroencephalogram (EEG) to capture emotional and cognitive processes that take place in the frontal areas of the brain in real time. Instead of being individually attached to the scalp, the necessary electrodes are integrated into the headset, which greatly simplifies usage. The device has been reduced to the absolute minimum and designed for comfort, and is ultimately intended to make EEG technology accessible to non-medical fields of application. The wearer of the wireless headset can listen to sounds or music through the integrated headphones. The device is the result of a ten-year development phase and currently still at the prototype stage.

A truly trailblazing product with an exemplary design that makes a valuable contribution towards promoting acceptance of EEG technology. Unlike medical EEG sensors, the headset doesn’t have a disconcerting effect on the wearer. The haptic differentiation between the hard materials on the outer side and the softness of the surface that comes into contact with the head is an interesting hallmark of the design.

Leisure, outdoor

Add-on drive for wheelchairs

Alber GmbH
D-72461 Albstadt

Design Gen
D-81373 München 

It’s not just cyclists who are benefitting from the progress in electric powertrain technology – people with physical limitations stand to gain as well. The integrated rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the electric motor built into the robust drive wheel, disc brakes and the little LED headlight are consistent with state-of-the-art e-bike technology and add up to a compact powertrain that can be combined with almost any wheelchair. An adapter fixed to the chassis of the wheelchair means the add-on drive can be attached or detached depending on requirements, allowing a vehicle with a top speed of 20 kilometres an hour to be turned back into a manoeuvrable manual wheelchair in next to no time. An app connects the E-Pilot with the smartphone, which then doubles as a route planner. The directions are displayed on an interface attached to the handlebars, as are the range and battery status.

A magnificent thing. Unaided and with minimal effort, the user can transform his wheelchair into a nimble electric vehicle that even works on gravel. The design conveys mobility and activity; the integration of the battery and other components is impressive, as are the functional details. A product that permits new freedoms and doesn’t stigmatise the user. 


M99 Mini
E-bike lighting system

Supernova Design GmbH & Co. KG
D-79194 Gundelfingen 

Marcus Wallmeyer 

There’s something very appealing about off-road biking at night – provided there’s enough light to ensure the rider’s safety. This compact headlight has been specially designed for power-assisted mountain bikes. Its 10 high-performance LEDs can be switched from a homogeneous low beam with an output of 450 lumens to a high beam with 1,250 lumens, which is ideal for off-road conditions and even illuminates obstacles higher up. Both modes have been approved as road-legal under German vehicle licensing regulations. The aluminium housing keeps the LEDs within the optimal temperature range and thus ensures their longevity. The entire headlight weighs just 125 grams and is equipped for different operating voltages. The matching rear light is visible from a distance of up to 900 metres.

With this compact headlight, even night-time expeditions on challenging trails are feasible. The pushbutton switch can be integrated into the brake levers, is intuitive to use and is backlit in blue when the high beam is activated.

Children, family

Grasping toy

Naef Spiele AG
CH-4800 Zofingen 

Heiko Hillig
CH-4314 Zeiningen 

Babies are curious little people and love to explore anything they can get their hands on – preferably by putting it in their mouth! That’s why the European safety standards for grasping toys are extremely strict – which unfortunately means they limit designers’ creative scope as well. This product nevertheless manages to achieve a successful synthesis of sensuous materials, intriguing forms and safe handling for its tiny users. The spherical handle and immovably attached outer shape of the toy are made of untreated maple. The inner ball is made of polished maple and securely fixed to the white polyester cord with two stoppers; it rattles gently when the baby shakes the toy.

This small but sophisticated grasping toy features very appealing materials with attractive haptic qualities which, together with the shapes, colours and acoustics, are guaranteed to stimulate the senses. As a result, the ring’s appeal isn’t limited to babies; parents will also appreciate the toy’s well-conceived and safe design. 

Public Design

Road salt depot

Bundesrepublik Deutschland,
Staatliches Hochbauamt Ulm
D-89073 Ulm

Vautz Mang Architekten BDA
D-70180 Stuttgart

Because of its aggressive corrosive properties, road salt is a particularly challenging material to store. As a result, as few metal elements as possible were used in the construction of this dedicated depot. Instead, anything that comes into contact with the salt is made of wood — including the structural frame and roof as well as the actual storage area. Exterior lesenes made of reinforced concrete absorb the horizontal loads of the mighty sloping walls on the inside. Every element of the building is void-free and open so that corrosion damage can be diagnosed quickly. So that the salt can be delivered by trucks with large-capacity tippers, the hall has vertical clearance of nine metres and can be filled to a maximum height of seven metres. Good ventilation prevents condensation inside the building, which is naturally lit thanks to the generous use of corrugated plastic elements.

Although the salt depot is a purely functional building, both the overall effect and the individual details of the design are surprisingly aesthetic. The materials, capacity and well-lit interior all speak in favour of a building that has not only been made to last but enhances the public space as well.


Electric scooter

BrakeForceOne GmbH
D-72074 Tübingen

Robert Bosch GmbH, UX-Abteilung
Simone Bosatelli, Adriaan van Eyndhoven 

The famous last mile between the car park, station or bus stop and the traveller’s final destination is mostly covered on foot — largely due to a lack of alternatives. This electric scooter could well provide support for micromobility in urban areas. Made of fibre-reinforced plastics, it is based on much the same principle as a pedelec: acceleration sensors register the kicking movements of the user, who receives assistance from an electric motor. The big hubless wheels make the ride more comfortable, hydraulic disc brakes ensure rapid deceleration, and last but not least the scooter folds up for easy transport. The clean, understated design benefits from a crystal-clear interface and the fact that all the wiring is invisible inside the frame.

The scooter provides a captivating solution for the many short-distance journeys that are necessary on a normal day. The exemplary integration of the individual components is one of the most impressive aspects of this meticulous design. Attractive solutions have also been found for the transitions, the hubless wheels and the controls, including the folding option. 

Design Studies

Pocket Rocket
Lightweight electric motorcycle

SOL Motors GmbH
D-70178 Stuttgart

Manuel Meßmer
D-70199 Stuttgart 

Electric powertrains are permitting new forms of urban mobility and vehicle concepts that are totally unfettered by traditional systems that rely on combustion engines. The Pocket Rocket is a prime example: it exhibits few similarities with conventional motorcycles and takes an autonomousdesign approach with an eye-catching top tube as its defining element. The tube — like the rest of the frame — is made of aluminium and also accommodates the rechargeable lithium-ion battery, the control electronics and the lighting system. Weighing in at just 50 kilograms, the two-wheeler with a hub motor in its back wheel has been reduced to the essential functions. Besides being extremely agile, the motorcycle can reach speeds of 45 to 85 kilometres per hour depending on classification and motor capacity. Designed as both a one- and two-seater, it has a range of 60 to 80 kilometres, which is more than sufficient for getting around town. Smartphone-based authentication means sharing and rental concepts are also feasible.

While the design is certainly polarising at emotional level, it uses the freedoms and possibilities inherentin the electric powertrain as the basis for an utterly different concept. Because its reduced geometry and complexity set it totally apart from familiar models, the motorcycle can be seen as promoting a completely new interpretation of mobility that involves a great deal of fun.