A table for Aachen

regional, sustainable, inclusive, creative

Regional, sustainable, inclusive, creative

Under this credo, Lebenshilfe e.V., the Demonstrationsfabrik GmbH, the Design Department of the Aachen University of Applied Sciences and Mathes have set themselves a goal: to together develop a table for Aachen.

A table for Aachen _ regional, sustainable, inclusive, creative

It is indeed a heartfelt project that Thomas Mathes developed and implemented together with Lebenshilfe Aachen, Demonstrationsfabrik GmbH and Professor Matthias Rexforth from Aachen University of Applied Sciences (FH Aachen) during the Corona pandemic. At the FH Aachen, at the initiative of Thomas Mathes and Prof. Rexforth, the contest was called “Table and Ware” with a subsequent contest for the bachelor students of the product design department in May 2021, which was about the conception and production of a table plus accessories suitable for series production. Nothing less than the redesign of a table under the aspect of home office or co-working was the task the students set themselves. 23 design models in total were submitted, 16 of them prototyped tables and 7 models from the field of accessories – conceived and manufactured under the difficult conditions of the Corona time.

The 1st place went to the Eloan table by Marie Hemmers. The office table of the freshly graduated product designer is designed for home office and office alike and is characterized by an elegant leg construction as well as the seemingly floating table top. Clever add-ons allow a wide range of uses for the table – as a conference table, as a classic desk for home office as well as a workbench with acoustic partitions in an open-plan office.

The jury was also impressed by TISH, a concept and design by Jana Kappel. With TISH, a compact and modern desk made of wood and steel, she won second place in the competition and, like Marie Hemmers, received a license agreement for her design from Mathes GmbH.

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Together around the table

But even more than the result, Thomas Mathes focused on the cooperation of all the players involved, and in particular on the cooperation with the Lebenshilfe workshops.

This led to the following idea: Can local partners work together to create a socially responsible, valuable and sustainable product that can be seen as an impulse generator beyond the borders of the city of Aachen? A product that both creates a relevant demand in the market and is produced at marketable prices. Implemented in an inclusive project in cooperative partnership. The collaboration with the FH Aachen, the Lebenshilfe e.V., the Demonstrationsfabrik GmbH and the Mathes Einrichtungshaus shows a way of how multidisciplinary cooperation in furniture design can look like in terms of inclusion and sustainability.

Social competence in a societal as well as in a creative context

The involvement of Lebenshilfe Aachen employees and their workshop managers made the work process possible in applied, practical inclusion. Together, they looked at how ideas and realization could be combined. This direct exchange met with a great deal of curiosity and made the diversity of life clear to everyone involved. The designers created their projects for and with the people. All the tables that were created reflected life in a professional and acute way. With the Demonstrationsfabrik GmbH, the project had a partner from metal manufacturing at its side, whose expertise includes high-tech manufacturing processes. In terms of wood technology, Lebenshilfe was present with its expertise from the workshops both in the competition and later in the jury.

In this project, the focus is on social responsibility, sustainability and regionality. The “Table for Aachen” succeeded in what all partners had set out to do at the beginning. The winning models, which can now be seen and purchased in our exhibition, show that good, young design can be produced locally, serially and in an inclusive workshop – and at competitive prices. The project is meant to give impulses and to encourage and inspire others to develop their own ideas on inclusion. An inclusive society can be designed economically and sustainably – for the benefit of all. You just have to give it a try.

„Table + Ware“ – a (homeoffice) table for Aachen

Can design change the world? A difficult question with a very complex answer that we cannot answer here. But one thing is certain: good design can make the world a better place. However, it does not only require an innovative idea, just as important is a socially responsible and sustainable realization of the product. How this can be accomplished is shown by the contest “Table and Ware” at the University of Applied Sciences Aachen and the resulting project “Table for Aachen”, which is a cooperation between the University of Applied Sciences Aachen, Demonstrationsfabrik GmbH, Lebenshilfe e.V. and Mathes Einrichtungshaus. The aim of the contest was to create a product suitable for large scale production, which would be designed, developed and produced in Aachen. As part of the “Table for Aachen” project, the winning projects are now part of our exhibition and will go into series production.

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