NextGen is a contest sponsored by the over two hundred year old Bavarian crystal maker, Nachtmann. An idea that was not intended to be repeated now defines the company as a leader in design- inspired and fueled by youth.
In 2007, Stephanie Kubanek, designer and professor at Parsons School, New York, met Maximilian Riedel, owner of the Riedel crystal company with an idea for a student collaboration. The NextGen contest was born shortly after. “It has become far bigger than a contest; it is now a category at Nachtman,” says Stefanie, explaining that she personally accompanies the finalists who are flown to Germany to develop their ideas into a functioning collection- with the aid of expert technicians and product developers.
“Maybe I have a romantic streak because I pictured a wedding scene with rose petals falling and scattering over a bed.” This was the guiding principal Pratt Institute student, Alvaro Uribe, used when he designed, PETALS, a crystal collection that won the 2011 NextGen award. In Tokyo, Yumi Abe was inspired by the quiet Kiyosumi Garden, exploring negative space to come up with HIKARI, the 2013 winner of the international contest.
SPHERE, designed by 2014 winner, Roman Kvita, has gone on to win numerous international design awards and it is one of Nachtmann’s international best sellers. Not bad for a debut collection at a company that has been around for over two centuries. Our favourites are QUARTZ designed by Catherine Merrick and a SLICE from The Big Apple by Viktoriya Braginsky.
“I call myself a designer, but I really see myself as an enabler-someone who makes things happen. To me, creativity is the result of a collection of different processes completed by different people with complementary skills. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace collaboration and to reject barriers and borders,” says Stefanie. We think this is pretty good advice.