Who Knew that Foam Could Be So Exciting

21 Oct

Back in May, the SWR Television accompanied Mark and I on two days of filming our project The Tailorettes of Ulm (German: Die Schneiderlinge von Ulm). We had a lot of fun with the film crew because we know them personally from when I worked for SWR. We were so proud of the tv report when it was aired. Here it is for those who missed it:

Now this is where it all gets a bit crazy… On the evening it aired, it was seen by a chairman of the Board of Foam and Polyurethane. For the last 15 years, this board has presented an annual award for the Innovative Use of Polyurethane… and was now announcing a new award for the Innovative Use of Foam! Seeing as Mark’s puppets are created from foam, the board immediately got in touch with us to tell us about the award competition.

We were thrilled! I mean, really, what are the odds?!

So Mark and I applied for the award in the field Design / Creative Use, and in June 2011 received the exciting news that we had won!!! So in early October, we filled the car with puppets and drove north to Wolfsburg to the Awards Ceremony.

Mark with his puppets at the AutoUni

The only disgraceful problem was that in my panic and excitement, I had forgotten to take a shower in the morning, so I arrived in Wolfsburg rather smelly. After testing all equipment at the conference center, we had four hours to kill and explored Wolfsburg – desperately looking for a shower. We discovered the city has a ridiculous amount on offer: a high wire forest, a water ski park, a Colombian clubhouse (what’s that all about?), skating ring, and a Swimming Pool Adventure Park… But no bloody shower. We briefly tried to convince the Swimming Pool Adventure Park to let me in just to wash, but the second problem was that I didn’t have a towel. I told them I could dry myself off with a t-shirt but they weren’t convinced.

Rejectedly, we drove back to the conference center and halfheartedly asked the lady at the desk if she knew of a shower. She looked us over suspiciously and (rather sensibly) asked us who the hell we were. Smellily, and somewhat ashamed, we replied, “We’re winners at tonight’s ceremony.”

“Oh, that’s alright then! Follow me please,” and she led us to room complete with five showers. Apparently smelly award winners is a common problem. Who knew!

Here’s us being clean and posh with the sign of the evening:

Mark, Ritti and Polyurethane

The awards ceremony was quite the experience because, in our line of work, it’s obviously not often that we’re surrounded by so many suits. And in their line of work, it’s obviously not often that they have artists among them! The awards coordinator gave it to us straight: “Your presentation is last because you’re the exciting bit of the evening.” Everyone was lovely to us and Mark and I had a great time cheering for the winners of the other categories.

Before Mark and I moved in together, I never gave foam a second thought. Honestly, who does? Now the apartment is slowly but surely being taken over by foam puppets and we fly to Holland to get students to think about their roots by making them talk to a foam potato – and now, here I am, surrounded by people who work with foam to make the world a better place! I was naturally quite intrigued to hear all about it.

So let me just say this: foam is everywhere. It’s a pretty cool material that can be used for just about anything you can think of. The winners of the other categories had it all: sofas whose shape you can change depending on how many guests you have, pop-up chairs for when the bus is late… My favourite was a bathtub that promises babies the bath of their lives. Fully recyclable, warm to the touch and bright pink. Watch out for “Baby Shower Base Lena”, she hits the market sometime in 2012. We took one home in case we have a sudden baby that needs washing.

Everything about the winners right here – and pictures of their creations: http://www.fsk-vsv.de/hochschulen-innovationspreis/ausgezeichnete-produkte-aus-schaumkunststoffen.html

Here’s Mark giving a speech about his work with foam, holding Ochoa from Children of Roots:

Mark, Ochoa and Polyurethane

There was a glorious rock ‘n roll moment when Mark received his award, boldly held it over his head and at the top of his lungs shouted: “YEAH!!!!” It was so unexpected that everyone in the room burst into laughter and began cheering. The other award winners whistled! What a star.

Here the official picture of the Winners of Innovative Use of Foam & Polyurethane 2011:

Some more pictures of 15 years of polyurethane awards and brilliant creations:  http://www.fsk-vsv.de/hochschulen-innovationspreis/bildergalerien.html

Cheeky Ochoa stayed centerstage throughout all the other speeches:

Ochoa the Star

Tomorrow, I’ll upload a short film on our film website www.goldenpotato.net that I made especially for the awards ceremony. It’s a pretty film with beautiful footage from our film The Tailorettes of Ulm and behind the scenes material, so please watch out for it online!

In the meantime, I leave you with a picture of Mark’s latest creation, which he’s been working on quietly while I wrote this post. It’s the Incredible NerdBird!

NerdBird by Mark Klawikowski


9 Responses to “Who Knew that Foam Could Be So Exciting”

  1. *** October 21, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    loooooooooooool…… Shower in the pool?!?

    • rittisoncco October 26, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      I’d love a road sign that says “Caution: Award Winners May Bathe In Your Pool”. Come to think of it, I wonder if the Oscars offers showers?

  2. Andreas Usenbenz October 21, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    congratulations 😉

    • rittisoncco October 21, 2011 at 11:17 am #

      Thank you very much! Congratulations on the beautiful music in the SWR report!

  3. Gerhard October 22, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    That`s an amazing story. Being creative and refreshing different is the recipe for artists. To use foam seems logical afterwards when you tried different things. But it`s the experience and talent that makes it smart to choose exactly this kind of material and make these nice personalities out of it. The puppets as the result of Mark`s art did surprise positively the viewers of the Tailorettes where they are the actors in the movie. How funny that viewing it from a different prospective (foam industry) the artist is surprised as well winning an award just because using this material for his puppets. Normally you would think that nobody would recognize this (except the chairman of foam and polyurethane). The jury probably never had something like this before. That must have been rewarding for the second time after all the hours both of you have spent for that project (that was the YEAH!!!). Maybe this is the initiative that it becomes a business idea…
    And it`s good that you`re thinking ahead by having the Baby Shower Base Lena now at home. You never know.

  4. Melanie Mulhall October 25, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    Congratulations on finally finding a shower . . . and on the award.

    Your post left me feeling I’d just been exposed to something a little too surreal to be nonfiction and a little too implausable to be fiction. This story of yours is proof that we cannot make up anything as silly, imaginative, rewarding, instructive, and just plain fun as life itself.

    Melanie Mulhall

    • rittisoncco October 26, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Thank you, Melanie, for finding your way to my blog! Your words delighted me. I swear everything I wrote actually happened! I just wish I had taken a picture of the showers… It was indeed a fantastic -yet intensely bizarre- evening, and I’m glad that feeling came across. Thank you for what you wrote, and I hope you come back for more!

  5. purple harem October 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

    NerdBird!! can’t wait!
    I LOVE LOVE reading your adventures!!!
    talented artists unite!
    awesome how Mark claimed his award! You two clean up quite beautifullly! 🙂
    Im excited to read more wonderful heart-warming tales!
    Love you!


  1. Travelling around Europe in a caravan of ideas « Rit'i Sonq'o: A Writer's Journey - May 27, 2012

    […] famous! Last year we won an award for the puppets in our film The Tailorettes of Ulm (read about it here) – and since then, he has received several lucrative offers to create puppets for Big […]

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