“Combining applied design, art and craftsmanship in a unique way – that sums up Leipzig’s Grassimesse art and design fair for me. I’m so pleased to be asked to show my work here this year.” Designer Andreas Mikutta is delighted to be one of the 68 artists from across Europe and Asia who will be exhibiting at Grassimesse in 2014. A high-calibre jury of experts chose him out of around 250 applicants. Grassimesse is recognised as one of the leading international sales fairs for applied art and design and takes place in Leipzig on the last weekend in October every year. Sabine Epple is project manager at the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts, which organises the event. “We look for artistic quality in design and execution, an independent approach to work and enthusiasm for experimentation,” she says. “We show trends and innovations in fashion, textiles, jewellery, accessories, ceramics, porcelain and more.” This year, for the first time, Grassimesse is turning its attention to designing for children and will focus on creative and well-designed products for youngsters.

Good design should be fun

Andreas Mikutta’s work fits the theme perfectly. His “trolley” is one of the pieces to be presented at the fair – a small wheeled cart made of wood, featuring crisp design and a mini towing bar. It looks a bit like a giraffe and thus resembles a child’s toy. “It’s a charming side effect,” admits the 33-year-old. The designer and young father believes that design needs to be simple, relevant and focused, and have a certain self-explanatory quality. “I think using objects should be fun,” says Mikutta, who comes from Bavaria. Being able to take part in Grassimesse is important to him, he says, primarily because the fair brings together art and craftsmanship. The two disciplines are harmoniously united in the furniture items made by Mikutta, a skilled carpenter who studied at the small and exclusive design school in the Saxon town of Schneeberg after completing his vocational training.

Grassimesse: a catalyst for design talent

“Grassimesse often acts as a catalyst for the careers of young artists,” says Sabine Epple. She attributes it partly to the museum environment and the strong heritage of the fair. Grassimesse was established in 1920 as an alternative to the conventional fairs that presented commercial, mass-produced goods. “Even in those days, participating in Grassimesse was like a seal of approval. It wasn’t possible to stage the fair during the GDR era, but we made a fresh start in 1995 with our first Christmas trade fair. Grassimesse was re-established under its own name in 1997,” explains the art historian. The event has grown steadily since then and is rapidly regaining the reputation of its early years. Leipzig is set to become a veritable design mecca this autumn, as Grassimesse will take place alongside the Designers’ Open festival, which developed as an offshoot of Grassimesse in 2005. Tens of thousands of design enthusiasts from all over the world are expected to make their way to Saxony.