70 Years German Design Council

Past - Present - Future

»Creating Community« Third German Design Debate

For 70 years now, the Frankfurt-based German Design Council Foundation has been contributing to communication, knowledge transfer, networking and promotion in all areas of the design process. Countless initiatives, concepts and formats have been created worldwide that connect design with business, science, culture and politics.

The Third German Design Debate


The event will be attended by collectives and personalities who are bringing about social and economic change through their work. They will reflect on the core areas with which the German Design Council has been concerned since its foundation - economy, culture, science and education - and present their visions for a livable and fairer future. Cross-disciplinary work, the bundling of many competences and the constant growth of networks are examples of the paradigm shift that can be observed over the last few years: solutions, concepts and products that are created by collectives, in collaborations, in teams or through cooperations are experiencing an ever greater urgency, visibility and recognition.

With this debate, the German Design Council would like to focus on these developments and reveal the connecting and fundamental characteristics for change from the broad field of design.

Event programme

All citizens, designers, entrepreneurs, cultural and art professionals, students - all interested parties are cordially invited.

When: Thursday, 22 June 2023, 5 - 7.30 p.m., followed by reception
Venue: Paulskirche, Frankfurt am Main – This event is free of charge

> Admission from 4.30 p.m.
> Start of the event 5.00 p.m.

Greetings and opening by:
David Kusuma, President World Design Organization, Canada
Prof. Mike Richter, President of the German Design Council
Lutz Dietzold, Managing Director of the German Design Council
Young Designers Circle, represented by, among others, Kimia Amir-Moazami

> "Third German Design Debate – CREATING COMMUNITY"

> 19.30-19.45: End of the event
> Followed by a reception in the Rotunda of the Paulskirche


Speeches held in English will be translated in German by simultaneous interpreters.
Speeches held in German be translated in English by simultaneous interpreters.

What to expect

We are looking forward to some of the most inspiring personalities of our time who will address the role of design from very different angles:

Sunny Dolat will explore design as an identity-shaping task in Africa; John Maeda will delve into the unifying aspects of AI; Kate Crawford will critically examine ground-breaking new technologies; Hartmut Esslinger will advocate for a new design education based on his many years of experience as one of the best-known product designers worldwide; the Young Designers Circle of the World Design Organization (WDO), represented by Kimia Amir-Moazami, among others, will share their insights into the responsibilities that fall to the younger generation to create a future worth living. Additionally, we are excited to welcome David Kusuma, President of the WDO, of which The German Design Council is a founding member.

Speaker Kate Crawford - Credits: Cath Muscat
Kate Crawford

Professor Kate Crawford is a leading international scholar of the social implications of artificial intelligence. She is a Research Professor at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles, a Senior Principal Researcher at MSR in New York, an Honorary Professor at the University of Sydney, and the inaugural Visiting Chair for AI and Justice at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Her latest book, Atlas of AI (Yale, 2021) won among other the Sally Hacker Prize from the Society for the History of Technology and was named one of the best books in 2021 by New Scientist and the Financial Times.

Over her twenty-year research career, she has also produced groundbreaking creative collaborations and visual investigations. Her project Anatomy of an AI System with Vladan Joler is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the V&A in London. Her collaboration with the artist Trevor Paglen, Excavating AI, won the Ayrton Prize from the British Society for the History of Science.

She has advised policy makers in the United Nations, the White House, and the European Parliament, and she currently leads the Knowing Machines Project, an international research collaboration that investigates the foundations of machine learning.

Speaker Sunny Dolat
Sunny Dolat

Sunny Dolat is an accomplished cultural producer, creative director, and fashion curator. As the co-founder of the Nest Collective, he actively promotes art and culture in Kenya. He challenges social and political issues and is particularly concerned in his work with Africa’s place in global and cultural debates and dialogues.

Dolat has worked in various capacities within the creative and cultural industries in Eastern Africa and is active in numerous advisory bodies. He was serving as a creative strategy manager at HEVA Fund – Africa’s first creative business fund of its kind – and he headed the Textile & Apparel sector in Kenya for the SheTrades in the Commonwealth program, with a focus on fashion and decorative home.

Dolat's most recent achievement was his participation in the curatorial team that put together the Africa Fashion exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. With the Nest Collective he presentend an installation at the documenta 15. He currently resides in Nairobi, Kenya.

Hartmut Esslinger

Hartmut Esslinger is one of the most influential industrial designers worldwide, having founded the first global design agency, frog design, with his partner Patricia Roller in 1969. Today, it boasts well over 30 locations spread across multiple continents. He was the first designer to bring user-friendly and appealing high-touch-design into the world of digital communications and media technology.

After his initial successes with WEGA, he helped companies such as Louis Vuitton, Sony, and SAP to achieve global prominence with frog design and its hundreds of creative collaborators. His cooperation with Steve Jobs, beginning in 1982, set the course for Apple’s international success and signaled the beginning of an in-depth examination of design in the USA.

In 2017, he received the World Design Medal as the most influential designer over the course of the World Design Organization’s 60-year history. Esslinger also has a long history with the German Design Council: in 1969, he won the first-ever design award “Gute Form” (English: Good Form) from the Federal Republic of Germany.

David Kusuma

WDO President-Elect David Kusuma is the former Senior Vice President of Product Management & Innovation at Oregon Tool. Prior to this, David served as the Vice President of Research & Innovation and Vice President of Product Development Worldwide at Tupperware Brands Corporation. During his tenure, he was tasked with subverting conventional boundaries of innovation by developing new technologies and materials to create game-changing product solutions.

The World Design Organization is an international non-governmental organization that promotes the profession of industrial design and its ability to generate better products, systems, services, and experiences; better business and industry; and ultimately a better environment and society.

Speaker John Maeda - Credits: Kenny Kelly
John Maeda

John Maeda is a leading American technologist in the field of product experience for consumers and enterprises. He was an early catalyst for generative art and computational design for commercial applications across Web2 and Web3. Maeda was the first recipient of White House’s National Design Award for algorithmically-generated visualisations informed by data + AI.

He is currently serving as Vice President of Design and Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft, in addition to his further roles as book author, online influencer, and investor in diverse start-ups. Maeda has served previously as Chief Technology Officer at Everbridge; on the Sonos board of directors; on the Wieden+Kennedy board of directors; as a Partner at Kleiner Perkins; as Data Visualization Lead at the MIT Media Lab; as Head of Design + Inclusion at Automattic; as Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Publicis Sapient; and as the 16th President/CEO of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).

Maeda’s presence in the following media sources comes in the form of writings, interviews, and talks: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, TED, BBC, CNN, The Economist, Forbes, and USA Today. The honours that he has received include three honorary doctorate degrees, TIME Best Twitter 140, White House National Design Award, Fast Company Masters of Innovation, LinkedIn Top 10 US Influencer, Esquire 75 Most Influential of the 21st Century, and the Tribeca Film Festival Disruptor Award for launching the STEM to STEAM movement in the USA.

Moderation: Rebecca Schmidt

Rebecca Caroline Schmidt has been Managing Director of the Research Center “Normative Orders” at Goethe University since November 2012. In this capacity, she is responsible for the coordination of the scientific center and at the same time works at the interface between science, science management and knowledge transfer. In 2020, she also took over the administrative management of the newly founded research institute "Social Cohesion" and the administrative coordination of the cluster project "ConTrust – Trust with Conflict" of the State of Hesse.

A look back at 70 years of design culture

We take you on a short historical review of the history of the German Design Council.



>> Approval certificate for the establishment of the "Foundation for the Promotion of Shape Design". 1953. Source: Historisches Fotoarchiv Rat für Formgebung, Frankfurt am Main.

New European Bauhaus


New European Bauhaus

Since 2021, the German Design Council has been a partner of the "New European Bauhaus" initiative. This was launched by the European Commission and comprises around 50 members in 26 European countries. At the point of contact between art, culture, social inclusion, science and technology, the New European Bauhaus is to investigate how lifestyles can be shaped in the future with the aim of making Europe climate-neutral by 2050.

The German Design Council supports the development of the initiative together with the other official partners.

to the website
Institute for Design Research and Appliance


Institute for Design Research and Appliance

The Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IFDRA), based at the German Design Council, was founded in 2020 and sees itself as an interface between design, universities and companies. Its aim is to give a voice to practice-oriented design research in particular. In this sense, the institute is a mediator and advisor for the various representatives from theory (science, teaching) and economic practice (users, designers, entrepreneurs).

The IfDRA is headed by Stephan Ott.

to the website
Subsidiary in China


Subsidiary in China

In 2019, the German Design Council founded the subsidiary German Design Council in Shanghai, which, like the German Design Council itself, sees itself as a member network. The members exchange ideas at eye level, share their knowledge and promote the perception of design in China. In addition, they support the German members of the foundation and help them to achieve greater visibility in the Chinese market.

>> Lutz Dietzold, Managing Director of the German Design Council and Lei Wang, Chief Representative China at the Shenzhen Creative Design Week 2021

to the website
Second German Design Debate


Second German Design Debate

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the German Design Council, the Second German Design Debate took place. Internationally renowned personalities from business and design were invited:

Paola Antonelli, Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA
Dr. Annemarie Jaeggi, Director Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design, Berlin
Stefan Sielaff, car designer, former Audi, Mercedes
Prof. Dr. Peter Pfeiffer, former head of design Daimler AG
Prof. Dr. Martin Roth †, museum director, cultural scientist and manager
Prof. Dr. Erik Spiekermann, designer, typographer
Prof. Stefan Dietz, industrial designer

>> Photo: Paola Antonelli

German Design Awards


Start: German Design Awards

The German Design Awards, the largest design competition of the German Design Council, has been awarded since 2012 and honours innovative products and projects whose market launch was no longer than five years ago. The label of this award is internationally recognised and meanwhile functions as a seal of quality and honours manufacturers and designers of the German and international design industry. The German Design Award is presented in the categories Excellent Communications Design, Excellent Product Design and Excellent Architecture.

Other awards of the German Design Council include the German Brand Award, German Innovation Award, one&twenty, Iconic Awards: Innovative Architecture and Innovative Interior. In addition, the German Design Council organises several other design competitions.

to the website
German Design Museum Foundation


German Design Museum Foundation

The Stiftung Deutsches Design Museum (SDDM) was established as a non-profit foundation with legal capacity under civil law in 2011. The foundation is based in Frankfurt am Main and its founder is the German Design Council.

The foundation runs comprehensive promotional and educational programmes to promote awareness of and interaction with design in a targeted and interdisciplinary manner.
To the website

to the website
International Council of Societies of Industrial Design


International Council of Societies of Industrial Design

For the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) Convention 2003, the German Design Council produced the multiple award-winning design film "Entwürfe - Communicating German Design". Renowned personalities from the field of design, including Konstantin Grcic, Erik Spiekermann and Rolf Fehlbaum, discuss their understanding of design.

>> Photo: Film "Entwürfe - Communicating German Design" conceived and realised by Oliver Hardt, Thomas Lauterberg and Stephan Ott.

First German Design Debate


First German Design Debate

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the German Design Council, the First German Design Debate took place. Well-known personalities from the world of science and design were invited:

Bazon Brock, Rolf Fehlbaum, Konstantin Grcic, Herbert H. Schultes, Erik Spiekermann, Peter Schreyer, Dieter Rams and Rezzo Schlauch.

>> Photo: Full house in the Paulskirche, at the First German Design Debate 2003.


Cultural Germany: open-minded and modern

Design as a bridge to the world: With the founding of the German Design Council, there is movement in the German design landscape. The German design mediator and consultant Mia Seeger is appointed Managing Director.

The first major project is participation in the X. Together with the architect Egon Eiermann, an exhibition is developed on an area of around 500 square metres that is intended to reintegrate the Federal Republic of Germany into the international community of states. The exhibition presents not only developments in industrial design, architecture and arts and crafts, but also works of the liberal arts.


>> Picture: X. Triennale Milan 1954. German Department, architect Egon Eiermann. Photography: Anton Stankowski, 1954. Courtesy of the Stankowski Foundation, Stuttgart. Source: Historisches Fotoarchiv Rat für Formgebung.


Across political borders

Designdialog - Seit seiner Gründung fördert der Rat für Formgebung den Designdialog über politische Grenzen hinweg. Die 1984 in Berlin (Ost) und Leipzig gezeigte Ausstellung "Design - Vordenken für Menschen" zeigte damals, wie groß das gegenseitige Interesse an einem deutsch-deutschen Designdialog war.

Nach dem Fall der Mauer 1989 folgten die Jahre der Wiedervereinigung. Deutschland wächst zusammen, langsam. Die Wanderausstellung "Formwende - Design in Deutschland" durch einige ostdeutsche Städte im Jahr 1991 verweist auf die unterschiedlichen Ansätze im Verständnis von Design im jahrzehntelang geteilten Deutschland.

>> Good Form, London, 1965. Foto: A. Bode, 1965. Quelle: Archiv des Rates für Formgebung, Designarchiv der Universität Brighton. Quelle: Historisches Fotoarchiv Rat für Formgebung.


Is design measurable?

768 Criteria - In the seventies, the evaluation of design is in the foreground. But according to which criteria and standards should products and communication be evaluated?

The then technical director of the German Design Council, Herbert Ohl, specially developed a sophisticated assessment procedure in which each submitted product is evaluated according to no less than 768 criteria. It is intended to be as objective and meaningful a system as possible for evaluating industrial products in particular, whose design the trade press is paying more attention to than ever before.

>> Federal President Walter Scheel and Federal Minister of Economics Dr. Hans Friderichs at the opening of the retrospective "Bundespreis Gute Form", 1975. Source: Tätigkeitsbericht 1975 / Publisher: German Design Council.


Design receives award

Open markets

"In the fifties, the German consumer durables industry had mainly produced for the domestic market and satisfied the huge pent-up demand. In the sixties, the markets opened up. The beginning of exports was a challenge and a test also for design." Dieter Rams (1988-1998 President of the German Design Council and since then honorary member).

In 1969, the "Bundespreis Gute Form" is awarded for the first time. Organised by the German Design Council and donated by the Federal Ministry of Economics to pay tribute to the growing importance of design.

>> Philipp Rosenthal presents the winner of the 1966 Rosenthal Studio Award for the Bofinger chair by Helmut Bätzner. Photography: Rosenthal. Source: Archive Beate Reichel.

German Design Council Signet Designs by Anton Stankowski


Signet designs by Anton Stankowski

The logo of the German Design Council can look back on a tradition almost as long as the institution itself: in 1960, it was developed by graphic designer Anton Stankowski.

"So I made a few drafts, both in one direction and in the other; and we then discussed together which one to push. I focused on the aspect that the Design Council had to work both internally and externally - hence these two directions of form." (Anton Stankowski)

>> Signet designs by Anton Stankowski. With the kind permission of the Stankowski Foundation, Stuttgart.


Dialogue and exchange

Hospitable - In 1957, under the patronage of Ludwig Erhard, the German Design Council launches an international multi-day trade congress for the first time. More than 200 participants gather to discuss the topics »Creating and disseminating good forms« and "The responsibility of business for design".

In the sixties - analogous to the social discourse - design and its tasks are also questioned. A debate begins about functionalism and the discipline's claim to science. At the same time, public interest in good design grows.

>> X. Triennale Milan 1954, German Department, architect Egon Eiermann. Photograph: Anton Stankowski, 1954. courtesy of the Stankowski Foundation, Stuttgart. Source: Historisches Fotoarchiv Rat für Formgebung.

X. Triennale Mailand 1954. Deutsche Abteilung, Architekt Egon Eiermann. Fotografie: Eberhard Tröger, 1954. Quelle: Historisches Fotoarchiv Rat für Formgebung.


X. Triennale Mailand

Design exhibitions around the world - In the coming decades, these will be among the core activities of the German Design Council.

>> X. Triennale Milan 1954. German section, architect Egon Eiermann. Photography: Eberhard Tröger. Source: Historisches Fotoarchiv Rat für Formgebung.