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Professor Birgit Weller
Photo: Richard Kurc, © HTW Berlin

Professor Birgit Weller died suddenly on 18 April 2021. Weller became a professor of industrial design in Hanover in 1994 and was the first professor appointed for the industrial-design programme at HTW Berlin in 2012. She held a position on the board of the International Design Center (IDZ) Berlin for many years.

Weller’s research and teaching specialisations were in the topics of design conception, system thinking, design methodology and universal design thinking (UDT). Her work connected innovation with social responsibility. Sustainability, environmental protection and the needs that people have for design were particularly important to her, and that is why humans and their needs were always at the centre of her outlook. “The focus of design must concentrate more on democratic design solutions and radical sustainability. That means we designers are asked more than ever to usher in and moderate a change of thinking in the development process at companies and to motivate all the disciplines involved to take action together,” said Weller, describing her understanding of the role of design.

In just the same measure that she believed universal design should bring people together, Weller also committed herself to bringing people together to enhance design. She fostered a strong cross-cultural dialogue over the course of her career, creating an international network for exchange between notable design schools in Europe, India, Israel, the United States and China.

Weller’s work caused her to be held in high esteem outside of Germany, too. She organised exhibitions globally and advised multinational companies on the design of goods for transport, investment and consumers. She received the German Design Award, Red Dot Award, German Innovation Award and IF Award for her contributions to design. She was awarded the title of honorary professor by Zhuhai University, China, in 2018.

Birgit Weller was closely connected to the German Design Council for many years. We are mourning the loss of an unparalleled designer and researcher, an experienced juror of awards events, and a dear friend.

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