Design for
Democracy.

Atmospheres

for a better life

The City of Frankfurt am Main and the RheinMain region are applying for the title of »World Design Capital« in 2026.

The aim is to work together with citizens, students, creative actors, scientists, architects and designers to promote design ideas for social, urban and cultural developments and thus strengthen the sustainable design of our city and the region.

Manmade climate change and the advancing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few are leading to worldwide migration movements.

Democratic structures are becoming porous and current models of autocratic governance in the East and West are finding increasing support.

In addition to the influence and control the big tech companies have over societies, manipulation in media communication is on the rise, as is the reproduction of traditional thought patterns, power and hegemonic structures, racism, and misanthropy directed towards certain groups of people.

This calls for processes, structures, and atmospheres that enable reconciliation and cooperative discussions as well as responsible actions and designs in the here and now.

It calls for a redesign of imperatives in response to the needs in our immediate environment. For a design with sustainability, reusability and the protection of resources inscribed into its DNA that promotes reduction as a status symbol. A design for liberal democracy, and thus, empowerment, as well as the easing, enhancement, sustainment, and intensification of life.

Design is generally known as the aesthetic shaping of the directly as well as the indirectly perceptible. While directly perceptible shaping refers to products, architecture, and interior and exterior spaces, but also communication and atmospheres, lifestyle, personal development, or politics as a means of forming social structures and processes serve as examples for the indirectly perceptible. Together they constitute the aesthetic, economic, and political role of design within a glocal world.

The transformation processes that command us individually and societies as a whole offer new tasks and roles for designers.

The concomitant responsibly requires them to refrain from actions and creative endeavours that could endanger the world, liberal democratic societies, and future generations on an existential level.

The living, economic, and cultural space Frankfurt RheinMain has often been an exemplary region for comprehensive social changes through design and applied sciences:

Over 550 years ago, Johannes Gutenberg, a citizen of Mainz, invented letterpress printing with moveable metal type, thus causing a media revolution with a defining impact on social developments such as humanism and the Reformation.  

The Jugendstil reform movement, as manifested in Darmstadt, the emancipatory, creative change of course brought about by the founding of the Deutscher Werkbund (German Association of Craftspeople) in 1907 as an economic-cultural union of artists, architects, entrepreneurs, and experts, and not least, the city of Frankfurt am Main have all featured as centres of modern design and new business models. Because this is where designers developed new products for all walks of life on the road to an innovative metropolitan culture. By no means limited to the famous housing programme initiated by Ernst May, the design utopia under the heading “Das Neue Frankfurt (The New Frankfurt)” extended its universal aspirations to fashion, interior, industrial, product, and communication design from the 1920s onwards.

And after the Second World War, it was the city Frankfurt am Main that represented the Federal German, juridical accounting for the Holocaust with the Auschwitz Trials from 1963 to 1968 – the most extensive prosecutions of National Socialists in post-war Germany. In 1969 this was where the Hessischer Rundfunk (German Public Radio of Hesse) broadcast the last conversation between philosopher Theodor W. Adorno and educational scientist Hellmut Becker about nurturing responsibility. This is where the Leibniz-Institut Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt), which was founded in 1970, the ISOE – Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung GmbH (Institute for Social-Ecological Research), and the research centre „Normative Ordnungen (Normative Orders)“ at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main are located. This is where the first German National Assembly, which took place in St. Paul’s Church in 1848, will be commemorated in 2023.

All this we intend to use and examine as the profound basis of our proposal and everything that lies ahead.

We trust in the potential of design and expect not only designers but all of us to assume responsibility.

We count on the collective courage for necessary action and the potential to shape a future worth living, which will find new momentum in Frankfurt RheinMain’s application for the title World Design Capital 2026 in March 2023.

This movement calls for responsibility, optimism, and protagonists who are truly willing to conceive and develop new possibilities for democracy, for a democratic culture of freedom and a better life – a better life that benefits not only the current generation but also generations to come.

About World Design Capital

The World Design Organisation™ (WDO), based in Canada, has been awarding the title World Design Capital® (WDC) every two years since 2008. The WDO awards cities for their effective use of design to promote cultural, economic, social and environmental development.
Previous WDCs include Torino (Italy), Seoul (South Korea), Helsinki (Finland), Cape Town (South Africa), Taipei (Taiwan, Chinese Taipei), Mexico City (Mexico) and the metropolis of Lille (France). The city of Valencia (Spain) has been awarded the title for 2022. In 2024, a cross-border collaboration will hold the title for the first time: San Diego (USA) / Tijuana (Mexico).

Contact

Frankfurt RheinMain
Application World Design Capital 2026
Project Office im
Museum Angewandte Kunst
Schaumainkai 17
60594 Frankfurt am Main
Germany

Management / CEO: Prof. Matthias Wagner K
Project Management: Daniela Kupetz
+49 (0)69 212 37991
hello@designfrm.de

Sponsorship application
Frankfurt RhineMain

The sponsor of the application Frankfurt RheinMain World Design Capital 2026 is the City of Frankfurt am Main under the lead of the Department of Science and Culture in cooperation with the cities, districts and municipalities of the region Frankfurt RheinMain region and the State of Hesse, supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain and on the initiative of the Werkbundakademie Darmstadt e.V.

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