Thanks to their lamellar construction, the two S-shaped elements of the screen can be pushed into one another to form a variety of optical and spatial structures. Depending on the level of overlap, the screen becomes more or less transparent or opaque.

Appreciation of the winner
by Peter Nickl – Chamber of Crafts for Munich and Upper Bavaria

One of the three Bavarian State Prizes for Young Designers has been awarded to an entry in the applied crafts category. This recognition has been denied to craftsmanship for a long time due to the all-encompassing euphoria around design. Design and crafted forms are based on different prerequisites but today they are on an equal footing.

Before coming to the State Prize presented to Ulrich Gahner, an apprentice carpenter, allow me make a few statements regarding the criteria for selection. Craftsmanship can be viewed from diverse perspectives. One of them views individualized crafted pieces as the expression of the designer’s signature, distinctive, and not aimed at being repeated, that is, craftsmanship that creates unique pieces. Some of the best examples are artistic tapestries, pieces of jewelry and book covers.

In addition, there is the form of craftsmanship that results from profession-specific assignments aimed at being repeated or produced serially, for example, a chair manufactured by a carpenter, a dish created by a potter, or cutlery made by a silversmith. The handcrafted series differs from the industrial series in that each piece has been processed individually and the fact that the finished pieces show traces of being handcrafted, but most of all in that the pieces show how the craftsperson has dealt with special details. This is the form of designing craftsmanship that the jury was looking for when awarding the State Prize.

Ulrich Gahner was presented with the Bavarian State Prize for a screen he designed and built. Modern screens no longer serve their original function, namely, a means of protection against the wind or curious eyes. Today, most screens are not set up for this purpose but rather are used as room dividers or other interior design elements.

The manufacturing of the screen was not the result of a special assignment, but a task Gahner selected himself. In the Düsseldorf area, young carpenters have banded together to form a design task force, an undertaking that was supported generously by the area’s master carpenters.

The jury was impressed by the simplicity with which the design task was solved. The room divider is made up of two identical curved parts composed of form-bonded S-shaped lamellae. The curved form originates from the use of this technique of craftsmanship (form-bonding). The stability and statics of the screen become possible because the lamellae can be pushed into one another in an alternating manner. This is the simplest method of bonding, similar to intertwining one’s fingers.

Both design elements – form-bonding and intertwining – result in a varied play of forms that can be used purposefully depending on the location. The two parts of the screen can be placed one behind the other, closing the screen and taking up little space – or they can be pulled apart and formed into a lavish object that creates transparency and permeability and takes up more space. One of the curves in the S-shape hides an area, while the other curve leads to the outside and forms a barrier. The screen has been awarded the State Prize not only for its construction and material-compatible processing, but also for the designer’s investigation of spatiality which particularly convinced the jury.

Ulrich Grahner

The work was suggested by the Bayerischer Handwerkstag