The co-founder of UNStudio is committed to design with ‘experiential qualities’

Dutch architect Ben van Berkel, co-founder of the renowned UNStudio and now an established presence at the Archiproducts Design Awards, is also on the jury for the 2021 edition of the Awards celebrating excellence in international design.

There are just a few days to go until the application deadline (brands have until 10 September to submit their products), but the conversations with this year’s jury members continue.

We asked Ben van Berkel some questions about what he expects from the products he will be judging and his vision of post-pandemic contemporary design.

 

Interview with Ben van Berkel, member of the 2021 Archiproducts Design Awards jury

What do you expect from the entries and what characteristics should the winning products have?
I hope to see ambitious, original and innovative ideas relevant on a social, human and sustainable level.

 

How should contemporary design evolve to meet the needs of the community?
The way we consume today is very different from even 15 years ago, so contemporary product design should understand, reflect upon and respond to today’s needs. However, products should also be more than just standalone objects. Design should consider where the object will be used and allow for experiential qualities.

 

In the post-pandemic era, how can design define a ‘new normal’?
If design responds to people’s needs, it mostly does not define a new normal – at least initially. On the whole it tends to help reshape habits. Or it can change the way we do things. Only in a very few cases does it provide us with what we didn’t know we needed and can’t live without. That’s when design becomes exceptional.

 

How do you think the pandemic has affected design?
The pandemic has not had time to influence good product design, because good design takes time to go from the development of a concept to production. SO we can’t see the impact yet. That is all yet to come...

 

 

About Ben van Berkel

Ben van Berkel studied architecture at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and the Architectural Association in London, receiving his AA Diploma with Honours in 1987.
He founded  UNStudio with Caroline Bos in 1988. Based in Amsterdam, the office quickly became one of the best known and most respected international architectural practices.

Numerous UNStudio projects have been built around the world including the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart; Arnhem Central Station in the Netherlands; the mixed-use development of Raffles City in Hangzhou; the Canaletto Tower in London; a private residence in New York State; the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

Current projects include the mixed-use development of Southbank in Melbourne; ‘Four‘ – a large-scale mixed-use project in Frankfurt; the Wasl Tower in Dubai.

In 2018 Ben van Berkel founded UNSense, an Arch Tech company that designs and integrates human-centred technology solutions for the built environment.

Ben van Berkel has lectured and taught at numerous architecture schools around the world. From 2011 to 2018, he held the Kenzo Tange Visiting Professorship at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he led a study on health and architecture. In 2017, Ben van Berkel gave a TEDx presentation on health and architecture. In addition, he is a member of the Taskforce Team / Advisory Board Construction Industry for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

 

Entries for the 2021 edition of the award are open!

 

Each brand can nominate from 1 to 5 products, from Furniture to Lighting to Contract to Building.

The deadline for participation is September 10, 2021.

 

APPLY NOW!

©Inga Powilleit_Alessi

©Inga Powilleit_Alessi

©Inga Powilleit_Alessi

©Inga Powilleit_Alessi

©Prooff - Workspace furniture - SitTable - design by Ben van Berkel - UNStudio

©Prooff – Workspace furniture – SitTable – design by Ben van Berkel – UNStudio

©Prooff - Workspace furniture - SitTable - design by Ben van Berkel – UNStudio

©Prooff – Workspace furniture – SitTable – design by Ben van Berkel – UNStudio

© Christian Richters_Mobius House

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©Hufton+Crow_Arnhem Station

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©Jin Xing_Raffles City

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©UNStudio – Booking HQ

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©UNStudio – JetBrains_St Petersburg

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©UNStudio – Soliscape project