Top 5 highlights of the Designers’ Open (#do16)


I promised you I’d write in detail about my picks from the Designers’ Open (DO). So here goes!

As you might already know, we were invited to ‘host’ a Danish blogger during the event in Leipzig, to keep him company and show him the city, the Designers’ Open itself and its spots. So, my first post after the event was a guide to everything that we did outside the Kongresshalle – the Designers’ Open venue.

But the fair wasn’t any less interesting.

Of course, any exhibition with many focus areas is not meant to please every visitor 100%. Its mix and diversity make it attractive to a broader public.

In addition, the DO is not merely a high-end design fair. It is also a market, with handmade products and affordable things to buy.

I went there not searching for anything very specific – but for products with a strong signature or authenticity, coherent collections, innovation, holistic concepts, inclusive purposes, and even those very simple, genius ideas that come by every once in a while.

As expected, not everything I saw at the DO caught my attention. But I did discover some things really worth sharing.

My Designers’ Open selection

I personally believe that the strengths of the DO are mostly in some of its sections, namely:

1) The ‘Green Product Award’

This section is pretty well curated. You can find beautiful design along with material developments, product innovation, and, as the name promises, green solutions. It is the most international section of the fair, and a real highlight.

2) The universities

Most of the time they are not presenting a “finished” project of their students. After all, students are students, and they are mostly not “ready”. But they have the freedom to experiment, to discover themselves, to think outside the box.

I was once a student, and I know how important feedback is (actually, it is always important) and how necessary the interface of the universities with the community is. On the other hand, it is a great chance for children and teens to get to know what these students learn and do – it is a first inducement for them to dream about it.

3) Kids’ Corner

Since we are now talking about children… how great is it to actually be able to buy something for them that has a different value? As in different from the massified market, and developed to enhance their talents, creativity, sensibility, etc.

The Kids’ Corner is very sweet and shows that there is a whole world of design developments (i.e. activities and final products) that try to address children’s needs in different ways.

Designers' Open: Buchkinder Leipzig e.V.
Buchkinder Leipzig e.V. | Photo: Stefan Hopf

4) Home design

What I am referring to here as “home design” is a mix of furniture design, cookware and home decor items. This broad genre also includes the many exhibitors of the Grassimesse (at the Grassi Museum), which had a beautiful curation of furniture projects, tableware, silverware and decor items.

Designers' Open: Atelier Berthold Hoffmann
Atelier Berthold Hoffmann | Photo: Stefan Hopf

5) Jewellery

The jewellery stands were dispersed in the fair within the DO/Fashion section. But they deserve a separate category in this article. Many designers were showcasing original work, beautifully designed and of high quality.

I was genuinely in love with two brands: Stadtelster (which was in the community stand of Kiss&Tell) and Maugold. They are opposites in design, but both equally beautiful.

Designers' Open: Stadtelster
Marina Renault and Jessica Herber (left), the designer behind Stadtelster | Photo: Stefan Hopf

Jessica Herber, behind the delicate brand Stadtelster, has chosen the idyllic Weimar over big city life. The classical yet modern Weimar fits perfectly to her work: light, harmonious, romantic; but also modern, minimal and geometric.

Designers' Open: Maugold
Maugold | Photo: Marina Renault

Maugold comes from Berlin. The engineer and designer, Malgorzata Jakonwska, works with industrial materials: metal nuts and washers, which she assembles and transforms into beautiful bracelets, necklaces and rings. These are elegant statements, and her work is a perfect example of how creativity can overcome constraints of traditional materials, forms and genres. It is modern, urban, hybrid and bold – like Berlin itself.

Wrapping up

One of the best things of the Designers’ Open is the possibility to talk to designers, to get to know “who made my…”, to support great work and find inspiration. The event was full and the public very interested.

More than a perfectly curated exhibit, the DO is an open space and market: It also welcomes small designers and the general public, and enriches our yearly calendar in Leipzig.

PS: We were there as an invited blog by the joint initiative of SimplySaxony, Kiss&Tell Communication and the fair itself.

Someone always in transit and dialogue between Brazil and Germany, market and academia, dream and reality. A freelance designer, marketing and branding expert, who came to Leipzig to do her PhD. in Global Studies and hasn't left.

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