There’s no shortage of prize news from the Design Center Baden-Württemberg this month! We‘re marking the 30th anniversary of the Baden-Württemberg International Design Award with an impressive exhibition! And the award ceremony for Focus Open 2021 is coming up – a few seats are still available if you’d like to attend. The aed has invited our director Christiane Nicolaus to take part in a panel discussion about gender stereotypes in the design profession and we’ve got another intriguing Design Story for you, in which Michael Schmidt of code2design explains why design and innovation management don’t necessarily have to tread separate paths…

Enjoy the read!
The Design Center team


30 years of award-winning design achievements!

Every project needs an initial spark – and somebody who has a vision and knows how to press ahead with it, as illustrated once again by the numerous examples in the yearbook that accompanies our annual award. In fact, the Focus Open competition itself was born of just such an initial spark: 30 years ago it came from Lothar Späth, who was Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg from 1978 until 1991. “The textile competition prompted the Minister-President to develop the idea of a design award presented by the State of Baden-Württemberg.” This quote is taken from the cabinet bill presented by Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Commerce, SMEs and Technology on 15 February 1988 – and marks a new start in terms of design awards.

Since 1991, the Baden-Württemberg International Design Award has established itself as a constant in the state’s economy and has been held under the succinct Focus Open label for many years now. The Design Center Baden-Württemberg is celebrating this special anniversary with a retrospective exhibition that brings together the original award-winning products from the last 30 years. The spectrum ranges from a crane to tableware and a mobile phone from 1991 and covers everything in between, from an inflatable jacket to a Kärcher steam cleaner.

Featuring more than 90 exhibits, this remarkable showcase in Stuttgart’s Haus der Wirtschaft will be open to the public from 22 September until 28 January 2022.

We look forward to your visit!
If you’d like to find out more about the anniversary, click here for the complete article.

Baden-Württemberg International Design Award

Focus Open 2021

Hybrid award ceremony on 8 October!

In 2021, Focus Open is once again rewarding new products, services and concepts for their innovativeness and design quality and showing what’s state of the art when it comes to design, innovation and sustainability.

This year’s winners will be presented with their awards at the Forum am Schlosspark event and congress centre in Ludwigsburg. Due to the pandemic, restrictions still apply to the number of guests we can host at this year’s event. However, a few seats are still available, so why not register today – we’d be delighted to see you in person at 19:00 on 8 October!

Click here to register.

If you can’t attend in person, you can still join us via our live stream.
See our website for details of the award ceremony and streaming.


Female Engineers and Designers – The New Normal

Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, 24 September 2021, 19:00

“There are still professions that are more likely to be associated with men. But that shouldn’t actually be an issue nowadays! In the context of the exhibition ‘between system&intuition: CONCRETE WOMEN ARTISTS’, we invite you to a discussion [in German] during which our female panellists will talk about their experiences in their chosen professions and outdated gender stereotypes […].” Kunstmuseum Stuttgart
The guests include Christiane Nicolaus, director of the Design Center Baden-Württemberg.
For more information (in German), click here. 


Innovation instead of Imitation

Patent and Trademark Center Baden-Württemberg

Stuttgart, 19 October, 18:00

Together with the Patent and Trademark Center Baden-Württemberg, the Design Center is organising a lecture evening (in German) entitled Innovation instead of Imitation.

Since 1977, Aktion Plagiarius e.V. has been presenting its Plagiarius anti-award to manufacturers and distributors of particularly brazen imitations and fakes with the aim of shining a spotlight on the unfair business practices of counterfeiters and plagiarisers alike.

For details of the event (in German), click here .

Design and innovation – two sides of the same coin

Together with his team, Michael Schmidt designs everything from lamps to office furniture, outdoor kitchens and gas meters. In fact, it was one such device that recently earned his firm code2design a Focus Open Silver award. Besides working at his own design studio, Michael Schmidt is also innovation manager at Franz Schneider Brakel (FSB). A conversation about the interaction between design and innovation.

Read more here .

*We’re open again!*

Book recommendations from our Design Library

HOMO EX DATA Design in the Age of Big Data
Authors / Eds.  Burkhard Jacob, Vito Oražem, Peter Zac
Amsterdam, BIS Publishers 2020

Knowing your users stimulates your imagination and helps you create more exciting and effective design solutions. But there is a problem: the normal conception of ‘the user’ is incomplete and based on outdated notions. These notions of simple, direct relationships between people and products are no longer valid in today’s complex, technologically interconnected world. This fun and practical toolkit with a book and a set of cards will change the way readers think about users. ‘Rethinking Users’ introduces a radical new approach that questions some of our most fundamental ideas about the nature of user experience. It points to new opportunities to create products and services that help users in new ways. The toolkit includes a paperback and a deck of user archetype cards and step-by-step team activities for unlocking new user-centred thinking and design inspiration. For designers, design researchers, strategists, innovators, product managers and entrepreneurs in almost any field. (BIS Publishers)

Dieter Rams Werkverzeichnis (in German)
Author / Ed. Klaus Klemp
Berlin, Phaidon Verlag 2020

Klaus Klemp, a member of GfDg (German Design History Society) since its founding, has presented an extensive reference on the works of Dieter Rams in Phaidon Verlag. The publisher: “For more than 60 years, Dieter Rams has defined the look, feel and function of some of the world’s best-loved consumer items. Using his ‘ten principles for good design’ as a philosophy and practice for improving the industry in a more holistic, responsible way, Rams has built a reputation with global resonance. Here, for the first time, is a catalogue raisonné of every product that he has designed in his lifetime – a true celebration of his seminal contribution to the field of industrial and product design. (Phaidon Verlag)


Authors / Eds.  Jörn Hurtienne/Diana Löffler
Clara Hüsch/ Daniele Reinhardt /
Robert Tscharn/ Stephan Huber
Amsterdam, BIS Publishers 2020

We use metaphors every day and often without being aware of it. Many metaphors are more than figures of speech. They reflect basic bodily experiences and help to structure our thinking and experiences of the world. ‘Happy is Up, Sad is Down’ is a collection of 65 metaphors with research facts and applications in product and interaction design, information graphics and advertising. Metaphors show how to use space and physical attributes to convey abstract concepts like time and importance, emotions and social relations, political ideas and ethical values. This book is meant to inspire designers and everyone curious about how the mind works. (BIS Publishers)