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The second edition of the festival State of Design takes place from 1st to 4th June in Berlin. During the festival Baltic and Flemish online design platforms are presenting themselves as well as partners from Lebanon, Turkey and other countries. The central question of the event: What can design contribute to society? We talked to Alexandra and Max from State of Design.
CCB Magazin:Hello, today the second State of Design-Festival is taking place in Berlin. What is the focus this year?
Max Borka: This year’s slogan is „Breaking down Walls & Shapeshifting Future Design“. The challenges society sees itself confronted with today are so huge and complex that over the last few years the number of design categories have been rapidly rising. But most of them live an isolated life. Much more than last year’s festival, this edition wants to point out that adequate solutions can only come from a dialogue and collaboration between traditional crafts, and industrial product design on the one hand, and experimental, critical, and social design on the other. It is this multi-layeredness that makes design so fascinating and powerful. And when you talk about breaking down walls, there is of course no other city so experienced as Berlin.
Workshop SESSION ENTSCHEIDUNGSLABOR, Foto: State of Design
CCB Magazin: If you look retrospectively at the first event last year, what did you learn? Will you do something differently this year?
Alexandra Klatt: Last year we had 10 locations all over Berlin. This was hard for us to handle, since Max and I should have been everywhere at once, which is of course not possible. We also had less time to communicate and announce everything, we were a bit surprised and overwhelmed by the popularity of the design scene - in the end it got bigger than planned and we did not have enough (Wo)menpower, budget and time to do that accordingly. It was very intense. We were really happy with the high quality of the program and speakers, but we still think there is room to grow. But we want to do this organically. We have learned a lot, especially about Berlin and its design scene.
We want to create an open discourse to show the complexity of design, and to make it clear that experimental and critical design is just as important an economic factor than our main export “industrial design”
CCB Magazin: You have also been looking for countries that are not typically associated with design. This year Baltic and Flemish platforms are presenting themselves, as well as partners from Lebanon, Turkey and other countries, where design is not immediately associated. What are the criteria to choose the countries and how hard was it to find designers there?
Max Borka: We want to find a good thematic mix and stimulate dialogue. Especially between the all-powerful industrial design and categories that live more in the periphery, such as experimental and social design. We want to do the same thing on a geographical level and offer different workshops this year that look into the design traditions of lesser known cultures. Design is not just for Milan or Miami. It’s there for the whole world. And neglected regions have an enormous richness on offer, a design language that is totally their own.
Olafur Eliasson Little Sun Diamond, one part of State of Design. Foto: State of Design
CCB Magazin:What is the significance of design in such countries? What can design do for people or their society? Can design transport interculturality and social issues?
Alexandra Klatt: It’s impossible to give a simple answer, but of course the environment in which you are a designer influences the work. Just think of material, target group, demand and craftsmanship. Design can convey when it is not overbearing and arrogant. In general, we observe, that internationally designers are asking themselves the right questions, which means they are looking for solutions for socially relevant issues. For example it’s nice to get a successful furniture design placed with a large manufacturer, but everyone knows that alone cannot be it. It is of course also not the mandatory to do a project in Africa or in the refugee dorm, the question is generally: how do we want to live? How do we move on this planet? Where do we find our identity? What is kind of challenges lie ahead of us? I belive that the question that is at the beginning of a product or project is the decisive point, regardless of the location: Do I want to make something prettier to hide the fact that I am using old technology, just to make a profit. Or am I really looking to innovate? And will find a solution to a real problem because my product actually fits into a market need.
CCB Magazin:What is your central aim with your festival? What is your goal for the future?
Alexandra Klatt: We want to create an open discourse to show the complexity of design, and to make it clear that experimental and critical design is just as important an economic factor than our main export “industrial design”. And Berlin is the perfect city for this; we hope the city sees it the same way.
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