The current circumstances are resulting in new processes, new ways of thinking and new developments in all areas of life. In conjunction with the jury meeting for the German Design Awards 2021, the German Design Council spoke with jury members about the consequences for design. How is the design process changing? Could previously unthinkable developments become possible? Are there new demands for our products and the design of our living spaces?


Lutz Dietzold, CEO of the German Design Council, on the work of the competition’s jury

Lutz Dietzold, CEO of the German Design Council © Daniel Banner

The new normal is the old normal for the jury’s work. Ultimately, it is about discussing products, working out various aspects and making an assessment: is this a product that represents extraordinary work? What is new this year is of course the setting in which everything is taking place, because we have shifted the process into the digital sphere. This discourse, however, is still equally possible digitally with the specialist knowledge and expertise of the jury members.

Lutz Dietzold, CEO of the German Design Council

Lukas Cottrell, Managing Partner at Peter Schmidt Group GmbH, on brand management

We are of course increasingly seeing that businesses are positioning their brands digitally and that this has become the focus of branding work. Nonetheless, it cannot be ignored that this is also about people. It is about establishing proximity and making the brand’s empathy palpable, especially in times like these.

Lukas Cottrell, Managing Partner at Peter Schmidt Group GmbH

Päivi Tahkokallio, CEO of Tahkokallio Design+ and BEDA President, on sustainability

There is one trend that is becoming stronger and it is sustainability. We are receiving more entries where sustainability is a relevant issue. What happens with sustainability, in my view, is that the interpretations become deeper. I think that the pandemic will change the design scene in a profound manner. Suddenly we all realised there is an uncertainty that we have perhaps not experienced yet in the world, and it is a global phenomenon. One of the impacts might be that we have to consider these uncertainties being there permanently. This will affect the design world in general.

Päivi Tahkokallio, CEO of Tahkokallio Design+ and BEDA President

Katrin Menne, Head of Brand Management Merck, on digital transformation

The digital has been given another boost. In this context, the design of digital channels, communication and interaction has again become much stronger than it already was before. It is now absolutely clear that there is no getting around it.

Katrin Menne, Head of Brand Management, Merck

Christian Zanzotti, Founder ZANZOTTI INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, on the demands made of designers

I believe that companies have changed their attitude. What was for designers previously a redesign has now become the complete reconceptualisation of a product. Manufacturers are attempting to survive by focusing on relevant products. The task right now is to develop a strong level of relevance that gives manufacturers a chance at surviving in the market.

Christian Zanzotti, Founder ZANZOTTI INDUSTRIAL DESIGN

Mark Braun, Founder Studio Mark Braun and Professor at HBK Saar, on new fragilities

The fragilities of a pandemic – be they social or political – are challenging. There are entrepreneurs who must take a leading role with this and develop new strategies; new spatial concepts for restaurants or developments in hygiene plans are just the beginning. Responding positively to fragilities like these is a quality held by designers. We are going to be able to profit from it.

Mark Braun, Founder Studio Mark Braun and Professor at HBK Saar

Virginia Lung, Founder One Plus Partnership, on the consequences for interior design

I think in interior design a lot of things changed. Easier-to-clean materials are going to be invented and contactless solutions are going to be widely used. We need to spend more effort and time on things like temperature scanners, and we need to create a maintenance-free space.

Virginia Lung, Founder One Plus Partnership
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