The material itself should inspire the design. Sixteen aspiring designers started their work, full of dedication and enthusiasm. The project relied on a close collaboration with a network of businesses in order to demonstrate how concrete can be used in an experimental and conceptual manner for developing new furniture products and interior design elements. For the third time, the interior design degree course at Mainz University of Applied Sciences organized a term project entitled “Material as an Impetus to Design” in close cooperation with industry partners. In previous years, students had dealt with fiberglass and mineral materials. The most recent project concentrated on concrete.


The Freiburg-based business Villa Rocca was attracted as the main partner – it has earned an international reputation for its premium quality concrete products. The business benefits from a wealth of expertise in producing concrete objects – from small accessories to large façade and interior design elements.  The first presentation of the design concepts showed that lighting was to play a key role together with concrete in two of the concepts developed. It was thus necessary to also consult a lighting engineer who became a member of the joint team.




The student teams designed and produced outdoor lighting objects, rollable floor coverings, wall panels with integrated LED luminaires, masonry blocks that provide space for planting, seating furniture, heaters and even a hi-fi system consisting of concrete. The fact that the designed objects were produced as planned triggered a big learning process among the designers because they realized, at this stage, the huge effort in terms of logistics and workmanship that was needed to implement their design ideas. The mold-making process, which was very complex at someof its stages, is a particularly striking example because the work to be done was initially underestimated. Positive molds were milled and ground for days on end, sophisticated forms were built and several trial castings produced. However, this big effort truly paid off as soon as the molds were removed and the designers looked at the fi nished objects. The particular features of each casting process became apparent – the result of a long development process becomes visible only at the very end.





The cooperation between the university and the industry partners laid the foundation for the success of this project and created a winwin situation for all parties involved. The students provided new inspiration to the businesses by conducting their material experiments and conceiving their design ideas. On the other hand, they were directly involved in the realistic development process of their products.

The project “Material als Design Impuls” received the award of Best Product Design 2011 of all 27 exhibiting internation Design Schools at the IMM in Cologne.


Angela Belling, Tiffany Böhme, Marlen Boller, Anna Datskovskaya, Bogdan Dowlaszewicz, Stefanie Hägele, Thore Höferer, Evelyn Kurpas, Susanne Mangold, Katja Metz, Stefanie Roßley, Anna Seibel, Lena Sobotta, Elena Sytko, Johannes Wenzel, Petra Zivnicek


Prof. Bernd Benninghoff


Katharina Dubno (Photography+Post production)

Joscha Brück (Light)

Bernd Benninghoff (Documentation)


Prof. Bernd Benninghoff


Sabine Benninghoff


Villa Rocca / Christian Egenter

Dyckerhoff AG / Christian Bechtoldt

KauPo / Patrick Plankenhorn

dieleuchten.com / Konrad Wallmeier



project by FH Mainz-Gestaltung

University of Applied Sciences for design

The former ‘Camouflageclub’ in the basement of the ‘Hotel Monte Christo’ became a highly atmospheric space for interaction: ‘Interactive Kölsch‘.

In context of the exhibition ‘Bitte Stören‘ the students displayed their visions of spatial communication on basis of the rooms of the Hotel Monte Christo. In the basement of the former Camouflageclub in the hotel the visitor could find an interactive light installation. 1600 individually controllable LED lights transformed the basement into a stunning spatial experience. The visitors were able to influence the installation via their Kölsch consumption. When buying a drink they were handed over a beer mat which had a pattern, a so called marker, printed on the back side. Different markers were available for the visitors – the first one labelled with ‘blue’, the second one with ‘pink’. With these beer mats the installation could be controlled and influenced in the corresponding colours via an ‘interactive-table’ which was especially designed for this installation. A camera which was installed in the the base of the table recognized the marker through the overlying acrylic glass pane. This camera transmitted information like quantity and position of the particular markers on the plain to a connected computer.


The system

The light installation ‘Interactive Kölsch‘ consists of 32 chains with 50 RGB-LEDs each and is controlled by the interplay of several software programmes.

The interaction

As a matter of principle a prevailing mood-video is displayed on the LED chains when there is no user interaction. There are two kinds of beer mats available for the user, blue and pink. By placing a beer mat on the interactive-desk a light spot in the according colour of the beer mat appears on the chains. The visitors can act by moving the beer mats. The more beer mats are placed on the table the more the prevailing mood-video darkens down to bring forward the interaction of the user.

Following interactions are possible with the beer mats:

Moving around

The change of position on the table will be displayed as a change of position on the LED chains. The square form of the interaction table refers to the square form of the floor plan of the room and thus to the LED chains.

Size changes

By turning the beer mat the corresponding coloured spot changes its size beginning with one pixel on the LED chains and going up to about 15.


Two different coloured beer mats trigger a purple colour explosion (colour mix of pink and blue) on the installation when colliding with one another. Therefore the beer mats have to clash with a certain minimum speed.

Room-spanning animation

By moving the beer mat to the according part on the border of the table light impulses can be sent to the front part of the basement.

Special beer mats with special videos

18 individual videos were designed to change the colouring of the whole installation. They replace the prevailing mood-video as well as disable the visitors interaction for 30 seconds and can only be activated by the students with their special beer mats.


Located inside of the interactive table there is a high-resolution camera which sends the pictures to ‘reacTIVision’. This software evaluates the marker on the back of the beer mats and sends the information to ‘Processing’. Thus position, rotation and further parameters of every beer mat are available in real time to be used by ‘Processing’.

Design Team:
Anja Nolde, Bettina Grempels, Delia Katharina Winter ,Eva-Marie, Christiane Riedel, Ina Ann Christin Witte, Ivana Planinc, Jeanine Gerardy, Katharina Bahne, Mailin Lemke, Maria Stroinski, Marieme Diene, Sascha Sommer, Simon-Christian Hargittay, Verena Schröder
Project Management:
Prof. Klaus Teltenkötter
Prof. Bernd Benninghoff
Prof. Clemens Tropp
Prof. Holger Reckter
Prof. Elmar Konrad

The material itself should inspire the design.

Sixteen aspiring designers started their work,

full of dedication and enthusiasm. The project

relied on a close collaboration with a network

of businesses in order to demonstrate how

concrete can be used in an experimental and

conceptual manner for developing new furniture

products and interior design elements.