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Sponsored by Swissnex

The three Swiss design studios—Mikafi, Paula Cermeño León, and YVY—represent innovative design practices emerging from Switzerland. Recognized for their pioneering attitude to design, the brands have circular economic values at the forefront of their creative processes.

Through their participation in the 2022 Swiss Design Accelerator—a collaboration between Swissnex in San Francisco and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia—the designers gained international visibility and the opportunity to build meaningful connections with relevant players from the Bay Area design industry.


Revolutionizing Coffee Consumption

Marius Disler and Claudio Vögtli, founders of Mikafi.
Photo: Myleen Mollero.

Mikafi revolutionizes the way we consume coffee—with coffee that, for the first time ever, can be created and roasted online or on-site in a coffee shop. Behind this idea stands the belief that in a world where sustainability, personalization, and quality experiences are becoming more and more important, coffee roasting must be rethought.

That is why the team of five business enthusiasts/engineers/designers built a well-synchronized coffee roasting ecosystem, containing an electric tabletop roasting machine and a digital platform to manage coffee from farm to cup. The fully automated roasting service enables coffee-selling businesses to serve the next generation of creative and sensuous coffee experiences with unique and ultimate fresh coffee.

Tons of Tech Behind Every Roast
From green beans to a cup of coffee—Mikafi’s tabletop mini-roasting machine, called MCR 1, is the first of its kind and the result of a two-year design process. The idea behind its design is to unveil the roasting process of the coffee, while hiding all the technically necessary components under a perforated surface.

Mikafi’s team and a detail of the MCR 1 tabletop mini-roasting machine. Photos: Ernst Kehrli.

Without demanding any prior knowledge, different tastes and creations of coffee can be roasted on demand, thereby reducing overproduction and waste. Furthermore, the concept is thought to not only foster a fairer and more direct trade between the coffee farmer and brewer, but also to strengthen the taste experience of the consumer.

Paula Cermeño León

Shaping Industrial Design With Biodiversity and Circularity

Designer Paula Cermeño León.
Photo: Myleen Hollero.

Paula Cermeño León is an industrial designer who showcases the value of plants and biodiversity by developing products and material experimentation, notably in the fields of skincare and well-being. She combines her design skills, which she developed during her studies with expertise from professionals working with plants in Switzerland and Peru.

Broad Variety of Eco-Based Products
Among Cermeño León’s designs is her Refined Remedies collection of medicinal products for minor wounds and menstrual pain, which are infused with plant extracts and present a contemporary take on herbal remedies. Other self-care items by the industrial designer are the face mask set from her Herbier Project, which is made from plant fibers that can be distributed dry and rehydrated when ready to use.

The selection of eco-based products by Cermeño León includes a biodegradable packaging for Palo Santo incense, developed for Peruvian brand Misha Rastrera. Instead of using plastic film packaging, Cermeño León uses surplus corn husks produced during farming to make packaging that is sustainable and compostable.

From left: Samples from the Refined Remedies Collection (Photo: Jagoda Wisniewska); the Herbier Project (Photo: Jagoda Wisniewska); Palo Santo packaging (Photo: Paula Cermeño León).

As part of Cermeño León’s academic work, the magazine Biosdesigned, in partnership with Cumulus Association, recently published her article on “Retracing the relations between plants and our wellbeing through product design.”


Creating Statement Leather Pieces

Designer Yvonne Reichmuth.
Photo: Myleen Hollero.

YVY is a Zurich-based fashion label founded in 2015 by designer Yvonne Reichmuth, designing and manufacturing statement leather pieces. Its collection ranges from hand-made leather accessories such as wallets, belts, jewelry, and bags to body harnesses and clothing.

Away from mass production, YVY has developed its own nontraditional strategies to stand out. Instead of releasing seasonal collections, it creates carry-over pieces that aim to reduce material waste and allow designs to be continuously refined.

The specialization combined with a clear aesthetic made YVY instantly distinguishable and resulted in a high recognition. Its pieces are sought after for their uncompromising design and their ability to turn any outfit into a showstopper.

YVY has quickly become a coveted brand for A-List celebrities and fashion forward women and men alike. The label has been spotted on Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Kristen Stewart, and Camila Cabello, among others. Moreover, YVY has been invited to show at fashion weeks and galleries in Paris, Milan, NY, London, Dubai, Beijing, and Zurich.

Traditional Craftsmanship Meets Innovation
Creating timeless designs where traditional craftsmanship meets innovation, YVY is blurring the lines of traditional leather accessories and clothing. Every piece is hand-made out of the finest Italian leather and brought to life in Yvonne’s studio in the heart of Zurich and by artisans of her production partner in Tuscany, Italy.

Samples from the YVY Collection. Photos: Yvonne Reichmuth.

YVY stands for durability, fair conditions, and transparency throughout the entire manufacturing process. With compassion for living beings, all the leather used is a by-product from the food industry. The majority of the leather is vegetable-tanned, a century-old tradition based on the use of natural tannin extracts. This means only natural oils and dyes are used, providing a safe process for the workers and the environment.

The Swiss Design Accelerator

Photo: Myleen Hollero.

The Swiss Design Accelerator program is a result of collaboration between the Swiss Art Council Pro Helvetia, under the label Design Switzerland, and Swissnex in San Francisco, an initiative by Switzerland's State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation, connecting “Switzerland, North America and the world in science, education, innovation and the arts.”

The program, the atmosphere of the area and the inspiring people I met during this week will definitely leave an impact on my future strategy.” —Yvonne Reichmuth, Founder of YVY

The program ran from November 7–13, 2022, and was held at Swissnex’s space at Pier 17 in San Francisco. The goal of the 7-day program was to introduce the selected Swiss designers to the US market, connect them to key industry experts and create new business opportunities in the Bay Area. ca

Sophia Burri is a communications associate at Swissnex, San Francisco. Swissnex is an initiative of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation (SERI), managed in cooperation with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) as an annex of the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco.


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