European design students put their visions of future blinds to a vote on VELUX community award site


As part of the VELUX International Design Award competition, design students from all over Europe are submitting visual input to three different challenges preceding the delivery of their final solutions on March 31. The challenges' focus on the students' sources of inspiration and visions of the future of blinds for roof windows – elements, which will shape and define their final submissions.

Design students all over Europe are currently working on their submissions for the 2014 VELUX International Design Award competition. As part of the process, the contestants have the opportunity to take part in a series of challenges at an online community site (, where they can share images of objects and concepts that inspire their design process as well as their reflections on their chosen materials and the final product they aim to create. The online community ultimately selects the winning team via a democratic voting system, where the contestants collect votes by sharing their images on social networking sites.

Organic inspiration and technological solutions
Many of the contributors to the first community challenge have found inspiration in both nature and technology – particularly in nature's interplay of light and shadow and the ways in which technology can be used to further emphasise this balance.

With participants from more than 20 European countries, sources of inspiration are diverse, ranging from images of leaves and animals to technological innovations and graphic renditions. Linda Hechmann Lagoni, Manager of Concepts and Innovation Support at VELUX, who is in charge of overseeing the innovation process and concept development as well as finding new business development opportunities at the VELUX Group, comments on trends in the community contributions:

"When the design students visualise their sources of inspiration for this project, we can clearly see that many of them have drawn inspiration from nature. I notice the tendency to make use of morphology and natural structures and forms as well as organic shapes and materials like leaves, wood, and flower petals. We also see tendencies that exploit new technology, and a blend of both 2D and 3D design work."

The work of Bob Jaap de Boer, from the design school at The Hague University of Applied Sciences (De Haagse Hogeschool) in the Netherlands, has been driven by a quest for design solutions that mimic nature – and a focus on utilising the latest technologies to execute their innovative, poetic vision.

"My overall inspiration comes from leaves during three seasons: spring, summer and fall," explains Bob Jaap de Boer. "Each season offers its own unique set of colours and shades. I find inspiration in a lot of different things, but for this nature seemed the obvious choice. The way that leaves filter sunlight reminds me of window coverings, and I felt it natural to try to combine the two. Nature always seems to have a solution for a problem, and with the inclusion of new technologies we are better equipped to incorporate these solutions in our lives."

The work of Charlotte Raffin from Olivier de Serres in Paris, France has primarily been driven by evolving technologies. Her concept focuses on the importance of combining the functionality of VELUX blinds with a further technological aspect to contribute to the future of blinds design.

"I found our inspiration in a flexible and durable material made from metal and LED technology called Mediamesh," explains Charlotte Raffin. "This material is often wrapped around buildings, where it can display images via LEDs without disrupting the view from the interior of the building. With this technology, it is possible to develop blinds that bring the same external possibilities into the room, establishing a certain level of light inside throughout the day. This way, you will always be able to have the exact type and amount of light you wish, giving roof window blinds a whole new dimension."

Applicable design and innovation
Peter Zec, one of the jury members for the VELUX International Design Award, is also the founder of the prestigious red dot design award. With a long history of working with design awards, he is looking forward to seeing innovative ideas, but also stresses the importance of thinking about functionality.

"My favourite thing about design awards is that there are always fresh works that stay in my memory. I hope to see a selection of restrained creations and also flashy, extraordinary designs," Zec says. Asked what he imagines to be the most challenging aspect of designing and developing coverings for roof windows, Zec continues, "It may be very challenging to find a composition of adequate material and good design. There are so many individual needs regarding a window covering: the appearance has to fit into different interiors and, additionally, the material must not fade in sunlight or suffer in high temperatures." In short, "the function and the design have to go hand in hand," says Zec, concluding: "My advice to every participant is to be courageous, think outside the box if necessary – but always be true to yourself."

In addition to fulfilling form and function successful designs must, of course, also meet production requirements. At VELUX, the innovation and idea generation process is closely linked with the production unit to continually ensure that new products are feasible both in terms of production and how they are used. As Linda Hechmann Lagoni explains, "Overall, there are many interesting and exciting elements in these contributions. It is always important to remember that the key to a successful blind not only comes down to the design or the material. It is equally important that the design can be produced on a large scale. It will be fascinating to observe the process from these first visual inspirations to the final design, and I look forward to following the contributions."