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KAHLA wins the German Federal Ecodesign Award 2020

Redaktion PSI Journal

Published on 07.12.2020

In partnership with designer Susann Paduch, KAHLA, the porcelain manufacturer from the locality of the same name in Thuringia, has won the German Federal Ecodesign Award 2020. Its “Lücke” dishware gained the upper hand in the category Concept. “Outstandingly designed, environmentally compatible and pioneering” are the concepts distinguished by the German Federal Ecodesign Award on 30 November 2020. The award is known as the highest state distinction for ecological design in Germany. On this subject, and in collaboration with the porcelain brand KAHLA, designer Susann Paduch developed an environmentally conscious dishware concept for the pop-up restaurant  LÜCKE in Weimar, which also became the submission’s namegiver. The artistic employee at the Material and Environment professorship at the Bauhaus University Weimar chose as her basis the dishware series Update by KAHLA-designer Prof Barbara Schmidt.

Due to its form design, the Update porcelain range is already highly sustainable and therefore the perfect choice for the artistic project by Susann Paduch. The Update series is based on a handful of multi-functional items: a plate is simultaneously a lid, a coaster, a saucer and a chopping board. Classic products were dispensed with – saucers, for example, which only serve one purpose, or coffee pots, which are no longer in use in modern households. Sustainability therefore lies, initially, in the reduction of necessary equipment. That is not only ecological, but economical. Moreover, porcelain from KAHLA is produced energy-efficiently according to strict “KAHLA pro Öko” guidelines in Thuringia. Hard porcelain is the densest and hardest ceramic, fulfilling the highest gastronomic standards and promising life-long usage with no quality impairment.

During the firing process of the sensitive material, optical flaws may arise; for example, little black dots due to burnt-out particles in the air that drop onto the porcelain and adhere to the glaze. “The dishware’s functionality is not impaired as a result. Nevertheless, consumers are bothered by these little dots, which is why affected porcelain parts are picked out. They are then sold at a reduced price as B-ware or, if affected badly, destroyed,” reports Sheila Rietscher, Director Brand & Strategy at Porzellanmanufaktur Kahla/Thüringen GmbH. Designer Susann Paduch adds: “I describe these defects as phenomena, which I first wanted to classify. I examined and marked every dishware component with a label that indicates the type of phenomenon, its origin and its frequency within the dishware set as a whole. The labels are permanently fired into the glaze as decoration. Via the information on the labels, users receive insider knowledge. They gain awareness and appreciation for the living, natural material and its complex manufacture.”

Thus arose the LÜCKE collection for the temporary gastronomy concept of the same name in Thuringia’s city of culture. For three months in summer 2019, LÜCKE filled a gap in an ensemble of monuments in Weimar’s city centre. Building, interior and exterior were designed out of old construction timber for fences and roof trusses, lorry chassis, and demolished windows. The dishware takes up the notion of re-utilisation, so to speak. KAHLA donated 524 dishware items, which delighted numerous diners.

On Monday, 30 November Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, parliamentary state secretary at the German Federal Environment Ministry, and Prof Dr. Dirk Messner, chairman of the German Environment Agency, honoured this year’s prize-winners via video link. The video can be viewed on the homepage of the Bundespreis Ecodesign, Environment Ministry, and German Environment Agency: The exhibits will be on show in a catalogue and a touring museum exhibition.