German Design Council

About us

As Germany's leading authority on design and brands, he German Design Council works to promote society’s awareness of design and supports companies on all matters relating to brand and design development. We provide a forum for interdisciplinary knowledge transfer and give our members a competitive edge: independently, internationally and competently.

Created by the German Parliament, sponsored by German industry: for many years, the German Design Council has been working to promote design as an economic factor and make Germany one of the world’s most successful design nations.

The German Design Council has been operating since 1953 as one of the world’s leading centres of expertise in communication and knowledge transfer within design, branding and innovation. It is part of the worldwide design community and has always contributed to the establishment of global exchange and networking thanks to its international offering, promotion of new talent and memberships.

Internationality

»Since its establishment, the German Design Council has been committed to global networking with countless international undertakings. Our subsidiary in China and partnerships with representatives in other countries are core elements of our vision of making knowledge accessible internationally and developing strong networks. There can only be benefits for all the forces involved in the design process when there is international exchange. As a founding member of the World Design Organization, we have upheld this belief for decades and will continue to do so as part of our foundation’s mission.«
Lutz Dietzold, CEO German Design Council

The German Design Council’s activities, including networking events, conventions, awards, jury meetings and expert committees, connect its members and numerous other international design and branding experts, foster discourse and provide important stimulation for the global economy.

Structure & Tasks

The German Design Council’s wide-ranging work includes promoting young talent, a comprehensive range of consulting services for companies on design strategy, brand management and innovation development and extensive knowledge transfer with seminars, presentations and a large library.

  • Promoting design/promoting young talent
    • The future belongs to up-and-coming designers. They ensure that Germany remains one of the most successful design nations. The German Design Council supports them with a range of projects and initiatives: as one of the world’s leading centres of excellence for communication and knowledge transfer, it offers newcomers an influential platform on which to present themselves, opens up access to crucial networks and, with young talent competitions, boosts public awareness of their work. With the Deutsches Design Museum Foundation, the German Design Council has created a separate organisation offering initiatives to get young people interested in design, such as the nationwide “Discover Design” school programme. The non-profit foundation works to promote all aspects of design as a crucial element of education and culture, science and business. Its digital picture archive makes a valuable contribution to knowledge of German design history: over 42,000 image records that are currently being collated and digitised document product design in the 20th century – and will made be publicly available in

  • Brand and design consulting
    • Design makes brands successful. That’s why the German Design Council helps companies to successfully implement brand and design strategies – with its extensive range of services ensuring that design can help give them that competitive edge. This includes consulting and assistance on strategies, concept development, communication and internationalisation, providing basic knowledge for putting them into practice with design partners and networking with suitable experts. With trend and thematic studies, brand and design audits and concepts for the effective communication of design expertise, the German Design Council is the experienced, impartial authority that supports companies on all issues relating to brand and design.
  • Knowledge Transfer
    • Imparting and sharing knowledge are among the key tasks of the German Design Council. With top-class seminars and workshops, our studies, the activities of our Deutsches Design Museum Foundation and an extensive library, we provide a unique platform for design and brand expertise in Germany and help to give our members a competitive edge. We raise awareness of the importance of design – and proactively help to shape the future of German design.Die Bereitstellung und der Austausch von Wissen gehören zu den Kernaufgaben des Rat für Formgebung. In addition, the Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IfDRA) at the German Design Council, sees itself as an interface, mediator and advisor for the various exponents from theory and application-oriented practice.

Foundation

A unique global network. Compelling proof of your design expertise: Over 350 well-known companies in a range of sectors are already enjoying the benefits of foundation membership. They are all united in their belief that strong brands need strong design – a synergy that produces lasting benefits and opens up new markets. Your company is a leader in brand management and design and you want to expand on this success? Then become a German Design Council foundation member and benefit from the alliance of the best.

Members & Membership

Presiding Committee

The founder's meeting elects the presiding committee of the German Design Council from among its members; it includes 12 individuals. As the highest-ranking body of the foundation, the presiding committee makes all strategic decisions regarding the focus and work of the German Design Council.

  • Prof. h.c. Dr. h.c. Peter Pfeiffer
    President
  • Dr. Michael Peters
    General Manager Peters’ Projects GmbH – Vice President
  • Robert Klanten
    Managing Director and Creativ Director of Die Gestalten Verlag GmbH & Co. KG – Treasurer
  • Roland Heiler
    General Manager of Porsche Design GmbH
  • Dr. Annemarie Jaeggi
    Director of Bauhaus-Archiv e.V. | Museum für Gestaltung
  • Leo Lübke
    Managing Director of COR Sitzmöbel Helmut Lübke GmbH & Co. KG.
  • Philipp Mainzer
    Managing Director and Creativ Director of e15 Design and Distributions GmbH
  • Nils Holger Moormann
    General Manager of Nils Holger Moormann GmbH
  • Prof. Mike Richter
    Co-Founder iconmobile group | Hochschule Darmstadt
  • Caroline Seifert
    Brand and Design Executive
  • Prof. Dr. h.c. Erik Spiekermann
    Partner Edenspiekermann AG
  • Prof. Dr. h.c. Gorden Wagener
    Chief Design Officer Daimler AG
CEO

Lutz Dietzold

Lutz Dietzold (*1966) has been CEO of the German Design Council since 2002. Prior to that, he worked as a design communication freelancer and was managing director of Designzentrum Hessen (Hesse Design Centre), where he was responsible for the strategic reorientation of design promotion.

Grounded on his studies of art history, classical archaeology and German language and literature in Frankfurt Lutz Dietzold has gathered extensive experience of design, branding and innovation. He also has a special interest in promoting design and up-and-coming designers. In 2011, he became a member of the advisory council of the Mia Seeger Stiftung (Mia Seeger Foundation) and a member of the Stiftung Deutsches Design Museum (German Design Museum Foundation), subsequently taking on the role of chairman in 2020. He was appointed to the Dieselkuratorium's Board of Trustees in the same year and is dedicated to strengthening the pioneering role of commercially successful innovators. 

Lutz Dietzold is also working to increase the international orientation of the German Design Council and its global network of leading companies from industry and the business world. This includes setting up a subsidiary in China.

Lutz Dietzold publishes articles on a regular basis and gives national and international lectures on a variety of topics. He is also a member of numerous committees and juries and sits on the project advisory board of the German Federal Ecodesign Award of the Bundesumweltministerium (German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety).

 

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

History of the German Design Council

The history of the German Design Council is closely linked to the history of German design culture and had a formative influence on the latter. For decades, the German Design Council has been burnishing the reputation of German design, enlivening the design debate and advising renowned companies and brands. As Germany’s leading design authority, it represents a holistic concept of design that encompasses cultural as well as business, industrial and economic values.

 

X. Triennial Milan 1954. German Department, Architect Egon Eiermann. Photo: Eberhard Tröger, 1954. Source: Historical Archive of the German Design Council.

Rat für Formgebung Gründungsurkunde 1953

A look back at 67 years of design culture

Join us for a short historical review of the development of the German Design Council.

 

Instrument of approval for the incorporation »Stiftung zur Förderung der Formgestaltung«. 1953. Source: Historical Archive of the German Design Council.

Rat für Formgebung. Triennale Mailand 1954. Fotografie: Anton Stankowski..

1953–1956: Design as a bridge to the world

Cultural life in Germany: contemporary and cosmopolitan

The establishment of the German Design Council gradually transformed the world of design in Germany. Mia Seeger, a German design theorist and author previously associated with Deutscher Werkbund (German Association of Craftsmen), was appointed as the managing director. The first major project was the participation in the tenth Milan Triennale in 1954. An exhibit covering approximately 500 square metres was developed in collaboration with the architect Egon Eiermann that was intended to reintegrate the Federal Republic of Germany in the international community of nations. It included not only a presentation of the developments in industrial design, architecture and artisanal trades, but works in the fine arts as well. Design exhibitions throughout the world were an integral part of the core business of the German Design Council over the next several decades.

 

X. Triennial Milan 1954. German Department, Architect Egon Eiermann. Photo: Anton Stankowski. 1954. By courtesy of the Stankowski Foundation. Source: Historical Archive of the German Design Council.  

1957–1962: Dialogue and exchange

Hospitality

In 1957, the German Design Council convened an international design convention lasting several days under the sponsorship of Chancellor Ludwig Erhard. More than 200 participants came to exchange their views on the topics entitled »Gute Formen schaffen und verbreiten« (»Creating and Disseminating Good Design«) and »Die Verantwortung des Unternehmens für die Formgebung« (»Corporate Responsibility for Design«). In the 1960s, the concept of design and its remit were challenged, analogous to the public discourse then taking place throughout society. A debate regarding functionalism and the claim to scientific scholarship in the discipline was ignited. At the same time, the public’s interest in good design grew as well.

 

X. Triennial Milan 1954. German Department, Architect Egon Eiermann. Photo: Anton Stankowski. 1954. By courtesy of the Stankowski Foundation. Source: Historical Archive of the German Design Council.

1963-1969: Design awards created

Open markets

During the 1950s, the German consumer goods industry catered primarily to the domestic market, satisfying the enormous backlog demand. The markets opened up in the 1960s. The infant export industry was simultaneously a challenge and a litmus test of German design.« Dieter Rams (President of the German Design Council from 1988-1998 and an honorary member thereafter). The »German national prize for Good Design« was awarded for the first time in 1969. It was organised by the German Design Council and sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs to pay tribute to the increasing importance of design.

 

Philipp Rosenthal presents the finalist of the Rosenthal-Studio-Prize 1966 for the Bofinger Chair by Helmut Bätzner. Photo: Rosenthal. Source: Archive Beate Reichel.

1970-1983: Is it even possible to measure design?

768 criteria

In the 1970s, the focus was on the assessment of design and the question of which criteria and standards were to be used to evaluate products and communication. Herbert Ohl, the former technical director of the German Design Council, developed a sophisticated assessment procedure in which each product submitted was  judged on no fewer than 768 criteria. The assessment system was intended to be as objective, meaningful and conclusive as possible, particularly for the evaluation of industrial products, whose design was attracting more attention than ever before from the trade press.

 

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.  

1984-2000: Transcending political boundaries

Design dialogue

Since its founding, the German Design Council has promoted and advanced design dialogue across political boundaries. The exhibition entitled »Design – Vorausdenken für den Menschen« (»Design – Thinking Ahead for Humanity«), presented in 1984 in East Berlin and Leipzig, revealed the high level of mutual interest in a German-German design dialogue at that time. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was followed by the era of reunification, with its slow process of German integration and healing. The travelling exhibition »Formwende – Design in Deutschland« (»Design Turnaround – Design in Germany«), presented throughout the eastern German cities of Halle, Dresden, Cottbus, Rostock and Erfurt in 1991, showcased the different approaches to understanding design in Germany, which had been divided for decades.

Gute Form, London, 1965. Photo: A. Bode, 1965. Source: Design Council Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives. Historical Archive of the German Design Council.  

2002 until today: Brand and product differentiation

Competition

Following the turn of the millennium, companies, whether global corporations or small to mid-sized firms, were confronted with hitherto unprecedented competition and, especially against the backdrop of increasing interchangeability, sought effective tools to differentiate their brands and products. Today the German Design Council is regarded as one of the world’s leading design institutions. What started as a small circle of founding members has developed into a unique organisation with numerous members in the areas of business, design, trade and industrial associations and institutions. They are all committed to a design concept that is capable of creating cultural as well as economic values.

German Design Council Signet Designs by Anton Stankowski

Signet Designs by Anton Stankowski

The logo of the German Design Council has a history almost as long as that of the German Design Council itself: it was developed in 1960 by the famous designer Anton Stankowski.

 

»I created a few designs, some pointing in one direction and some in the other, and then we jointly discussed which ones should be given priority. I focussed on the fact that the work and influence of the German Design Council was projected both internally and externally – that's why the design of the logo incorporates both directions.« (Anton Stankowski)

 

Signet designs: Anton Stankowski. By courtesy of the Stankowski Foundation.