Hublot Design Prize 2016
Gisbert L. Brunner has been writing about watches since 1981. He has published more than 20 books on the subject.
The Hublot Design Prize may not yet be a tradition; in my view it needs to have been held at least three times for that accolade. But the Geneva-based luxury watch manufacturer is well on the way to establishing just such a tradition because the 2016 event showcasing the work of young designers marked its second year on the calendar.
The idea was a joint effort by Jean-Claude Biver, who presides over the Hublot board, Ricardo Guadalupe, the Hublot CEO and Pierre Keller, the former director of the École cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) and president of the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (CAC). It was created in 2015 in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the launch of its iconic Big Bang model.
And Hublot didn’t scrimp on the prize money this year either. As CHF100,000 is a significant sum of money and not to be sniffed it, the organisers decided to rule out an open application process. Hublot and the jury, led by Pierre Keller, were truly overwhelmed by the number of portfolios they received.
And speaking of the jury, the 2016 line-up, like last year’s, consisted of:
- Marva Griffin Wilshire, founder and curator of the Salone Satellite and Head of International Press at the Salone del Mobile Milano (Milan Furniture Fair), the section of this fair dedicated to showcasing designers aged under 35
- Ronan Bouroullec, born in Brittany and one of France’s most promising industrial designers
- Lapo Elkann, entrepreneur and co-founder of Italia Independent Group and Garage Italia Customs. Designer, creator, style icon, he has been a partner of Hublot’s with Italia Independent since 2015
Professor Dr. Peter Zec, the founder and president of the Red Dot Design Award, which in 2015 celebrated its 25th anniversary, asked to be left off the jury
Simon de Pury, from Switzerland, was due to take his place. But as the co-founder of the auctioneers Phillips de Pury & Company, a key figure on the international art market, was tied up, his wife, Michaela de Pury, a well-respected art historian, expert and auctioneer, took up his place on this year’s jury.
Just like last year, each juror puts forward five candidates. The jury then whittled the list of candidates down to eight finalists who were given the opportunity to show their creations at the Hublot Manufacture itself on September 10.
Melanie Georgacopoulos, born 1979
A Royal College of Art graduate, a Greco-French jewellery designer, whose studies at the Mokume Institute in Athens (Goldsmithery) and at the Edinburgh College of Art (Sculpture) created the style of her work.
Her signature style is a combination of metal and pearls that she sculpts in an innovative fashion.
Christophe Guberan, born 1985
An ECAL graduate, an industrial designer, he has developed between Switzerland and the United States and has been working with MIT since 2014.Winning prizes from the Leenaards Foundation and the IKEA Foundation in 2013, his work was honoured by Creative Applications in 2012.
His signature style is the experimentation and observation of different materials, such as paper, and their interactions.
Sebastian Herkner, born 1981
Graduated from The University of Art and Design in Offenbach. In 2006, he set up his own studio in London after working with Stella McCartney. His work won the German Design Award in 2011 and the EDIDA Award in 2015. In 2016, he was guest of honour at the imm International Interiors Show in Cologne.
His signature style is enhancing function, material, details and colours, and fostering their interaction.
Yota Kakuda, born 1979
Graduated from The Royal College of Art. He has collaborated with the Shin, Tomoko Azumi and Ross Lovegrove design studios. He worked for the Japanese label MUJI before founding Yota Kakuda Design in 2011. A multiple award-winner, he won the iF Design Award in 2015 and the Good Design Award in 2014.
His signature style is his passion for the elegance of everyday objects. As a collector of antique objects, he applies today’s perspective to yesterday’s techniques or objects with a disconcerting simplicity.
Ifeanyi Oganwu, born 1979
This Nigerian-born designer and architect lives and works in London. He studied Architecture at The Illinois Institute of Technology, The Architectural Association in London and Columbia University. He has collaborated with the offices of John Ronan, Zaha Hadid, Hussein Chalayan and Adams Kara Taylor and in 2008 he founded Expand Design.
His signature style is the continuous search for the correlation between history, basic materials and new production techniques.
Felipe Ribon, born 1982
He originally studied Nuclear Physics, then graduated from ENSCI-Les Ateliers. This Franco-Colombian designer has collaborated with the Bouroullec Studio. He continued his studies at the Villa Medici and now studies at the Villa Kujoyama in Japan. In 2009 he won the Design Parade Audience Prize, the Best of the Best Red Dot Design Award and the Paris Grand Prix de la Création. In 2015, as part of a duo, he won the 16th Liliane Bettencourt Prize.
His signature style is formal and technological expertise and an almost spiritual willingness to experiment in his search for wellbeing.
Julie Richoz, born 1990
An ECAL graduate, this Franco-Swiss artist began her career with the Pierre Charpin Studio before opening her own design studio in 2012. The winner of the Grand Prix at the Design Parade in 2012, she received a Swiss Design Award in 2015.
Her signature style is playing with perceptions of space, emptiness, fullness and depth.
Keita Suzuki, born 1982
A Tama Art University graduate, he created the Product Design Center and opened The Shop in 2012. His work has won many prizes such as the iF Design Award, the Red Dot Design Award and the Good Design Award.
His signature style is a minimalist and existential design deeply imbued with traditional Japanese aestheticism.
As Pierre Keller explained when he revealed this year’s winner, the jury found it extremely difficult to come to a decision due to the extremely high level of professionalism displayed by all eight finalists and the extraordinary quality of their work. The paramount criteria guiding the jury’s choice were the innovation, creativity and originality of the projects presented; the choice of materials and the quality of execution; the viability and sustainability of the projects and the utility and value of the creations.
Whereas BIG-GAME and Daniel Rybakken had shared the award and the prize-money in 2015, this year, Christophe Guberan received a cheque for CHF100,000 from Ricardo Guadalupe for himself alone.
“There could and would only be one winner this year,” Lapo Elkann explained in the course of the award ceremony, partly, perhaps, because non-juror Peter Zec had made his dissatisfaction in Tokyo known a year earlier. “A jury that can’t settle on a single winner isn’t really much of a jury.”
But ultimately all the finalists of the 2016 Hublot Design Prize end up winners one way or another.