For all those who want to deal with or discuss topics of social sustainability.

This year's edition of the conference series "Shaping Society! Social sustainability through design" was dedicated to applied solutions and practical examples. Social sustainability in design means supporting people's skills and abilities in everyday and working life and thus strengthening competitiveness in companies. It is often only through design processes that the various areas of social sustainability, such as participation, self-determination, equal opportunities and social cohesion, become visible. Speakers from various disciplines gave insights into their methods and shared their practical experiences.

The event was streamed and participants were able to contribute questions and comments via live chat.


Tanja Godlewsky

Designer, lecturer at the Institute for Pop Music at Folkwang University of the Arts, founding member of the international Gender Design Network (iGDN)

Gender, Design, and Sustainability – Clearing the Thicket

With its comprehensive dissemination, design shapes behaviors, values, and norms of users and entire societies, even without them being consciously aware of it. In professional discourse, good design is often characterized by sustainability, functionality, and user orientation, but the significance of gender is frequently neglected. Gender aspects and their effects are rarely considered in most companies, manifesting in both product development and various aspects of their operations, including processes, services, and corporate communication.
The issue is often dismissed as a feminist side note, yet gender design is crucial for shaping a fair and sustainable society. The presentation explores ways to address this and illuminates gender-sensitive examples from practical experiences.

Tanja Godlewsky is a designer and freelance creative director who designs solutions in the areas of brand and corporate design. Her work focusses on design and pop music, as well as gender issues in design. She communicates her interdisciplinary understanding of design and its responsibility in teaching at various universities and in workshops and lectures.

Prof. Dr. Caroline Günther

Architect, Professor of Accessible Design and Construction and Building Science; Head of the Master's programme Inclusive Design - Inclusive Architecture

Caroline Günther is a professor at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences in the Department of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geomatics. For many years, she has been working on the topics of inclusion and barrier-free planning and building, inclusive cities and healing architecture. She is a member of the office of the FUTURE AGING research centre and a member of the Frankfurt Research Institute for Architecture / Civil Engineering / Geomatics (FFin). Her research focuses on the spatial and typological development of inclusive planning, spatial perception, people and space, emotional spaces, demographic developments and building structures for living in old age.

Juliane Kühr

Product designer, German Design Graduates Award 2023: Winner of the Inclusion category

Inclusion through Design

The designer, in Kühr's presentation, exemplifies design principles through her design process, illustrating how inclusive design can be achieved and societal participation for all can be promoted.

Juliane Kühr is a product designer who follows a design approach that includes diverse perspectives into the design process. For her, design is a tool that can shape a just and inclusive society. Kühr develops forward-thinking concepts that challenge existing societal norms. Her project "Vruit" reflects this approach: The sex toy provides an alternative to artificial insemination through medical assistance, especially for queer and single individuals.

Barbara Lersch

Head of operational foundation projects, programme and funding series and Hans Sauer Prize, Hans Sauer Foundation

Can participation and consideration of different perspectives contribute to a sustainable and socially transformative society?

The social design lab of the Hans Sauer Foundation explores this question in various contexts. Among other activities, it participates in a research project focused on sustainable urban mobility in the future. As part of this project, a street in Munich was temporarily transformed to prioritize pedestrian and non-motorized traffic. In this initiative, the social design lab provided consultation on the development of the participation strategy and supported the implementation.
Barbara Lersch presents this process, discussing its challenges, opportunities, and the underlying considerations and theoretical approaches in design. Additionally, her contribution explores other projects of the lab with the aim of shaping society.

Barbara Lersch is a social innovator and focusses on the social impact of the underlying processes and their effects in various areas such as urban development, social architecture, social design and the circular economy. Her work seeks to build bridges between science and civil society, among other things.

Kai Rosenstein

Founder of KRDK | Kai Rosenstein Designkultur

New German Culture: Countless Dimensions, Plenty of HP, and Essentially One Goal

Sustainable, diverse, post-migrant, intersectional – the current cultural and societal debate introduces many terms that, on the one hand, hold high relevance but, on the other hand, often remain theoretically abstract. Nevertheless, what matters is how we can imbue these terms with substance and vitality. Drawing from his extensive experience in the theater, Kai Rosenstein offers insights into theatrical practices and makes corresponding attempts at classification in his lecture.

In 2010, Kai Rosenstein founded the agency KRDK | Kai Rosenstein Designkultur, which advises institutions in cultural communication. Undertaking similar responsibilities, he headed the Communication Department at the Staatstheater Darmstadt from 2019 to 2023. Rosenstein also works as a lecturer, speaker, and expert in the field of design and was the initiator of the "social design archive" platform. He is a member of the Deutscher Werkbund Hessen.

Photo: Nathalie Zimmermann

Greetings: Lutz Dietzold

CEO German Design Council

Lutz Dietzold 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.

Greetings: Rolf Krämer

Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing

Rolf Krämer heads the Start-Ups, Cultural and Creative Industries Department at the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Housing.

Moderation: Stephan Ott

Director Institute for Design Research and Appliance – IfDRA

Stephan Ott is the Director of the Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IfDRA). The institute, which is based at the German Design Council, was founded in 2020 with the aim of providing a forum for all areas of design research. In this sense, the IfDRA sees itself as an interface as well as a cooperation and network partner for workshops, conferences and research projects. Stephan Ott has already moderated the conference in 2022.

Review of 2022 Conference

“Where does the German design industry stand in social sustainability processes today?”

Only when ecological, economic and social measures are interlinked simultaneously and on an equal footing will the prerequisites for all-encompassing social sustainability be met. In the "Agenda 2030" formulated by the UN, further decisive, universal principles that call for a just and sustainable life are differentiated. Sustainable development of all these closely interlinked aspects is essential for a sustainable society.

Initial design processes are used in almost all areas - designers have a decisive role and influence in shaping a sustainable world of the future. The services and products they develop have a decisive influence on how we organise our lives and perceive our environment, how we participate in it and whether we have equal access to it.

While the economy and ecology are often at the centre of discussions about a sustainable future, the social factor, including diversity, access and inclusion, equal opportunities and cultural development, quickly fade into the background. However, social sustainability can only succeed if it is considered from the very beginning of the design process.

The focus of the 2022 conference covered a wide range of topics such as anti-racism and decolonisation, gender equality and inclusion. All presentations were based on the question "Where does the German design industry stand in processes of social sustainability today?". The event took place on 13 December 2022 at the Evangelische Akademie in Frankfurt am Main.

The Speaker 2022:

Prof. Dr. Tom Bieling, Professor of Design Theory HfG Offenbach – Design as part of the solution and the problem"
Prof. Dr. Esin Bozyazi, Vice President of the Institute for Social Sustainability e.V., Professor (IU) – "Social sustainability and digital transformation"
Christine Fehrenbach, designer and entrepreneur – "Gender Design - the Next Future?"
Prof. Nikolaus Hafermaas, Managing Partner, Creation | Graft Brandlab – "Ey dude! Intergenerational design as cultural change"
Mathias Knigge, Owner, Office for Inclusion & Demographic Solutions – Accessibility in Design for All - attractive added value instead of deficit-oriented special solutions"
Rolf Krämer, Hessian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Energy, Transport and Housing
Deborah Krieg, Education Officer of the Anne Frank Education Centre – "Racisms. Shapes. World."

Moderation: Stefan Ott, Director Institute for Design Research and Appliance – IfDRA | German Design Council