Lutz Dietzold, CEO of the German Design Council, on sustainable design

"Sustainable design ensures long-term corporate success and is accessible to everyone"

In an interview with Lutz Dietzold, CEO of the German Design Council

german design award
Onepiece wallcover by Wallstoxx. Copyright by Wallstoxx

Author: House of Eden

Lutz Dietzold has been managing director of the German Design Council since 2002. Initiated by the German Bundestag, belongs to the German Design Council to the leading international competence centers in matters Design and has a decisive influence on Germany's design culture. A unique forum for knowledge transfer of brand and design competence.

As managing director of the council, Lutz Dietzold is increasingly committed to the international orientation of the competence center and the global network of leading companies from industry and business. He is also a member of numerous committees and juries as well as a project advisory board for the Federal Prize Ecodesign of the Federal Environment Ministry.

In an interview with Haus von Eden, Lutz Dietzold talks about the current Design trends, the effects of the Corona crisis and exclusively about the importance of sustainability in design development.

Lutz Dietzold

Lutz Dietzold, Managing Director of the German Design Council, © Lutz Sternstein

As the sponsor of the "German Design Award" and the"ICONIC AWARDS: Innovative Interior", you continuously observe upcoming trends in the design world. Which ones can you currently identify?

We recognize a whole range of trends that take up the global megatrends - climate change, digitization, population growth - but also the latest challenges posed by the pandemic. We see great innovations in the field of medical technology, but also in the field of automated solutions.

In the course of the corona pandemic, the focus has also shifted more strongly to one's own living space. Flexible home office solutions are on the rise, as are ideas for moments of adventure and enjoyment in the bathroom or outdoors. Whether custom-made or modular furniture, products can often be individually designed in terms of color, shape and material. Overall, a return to more simplicity can be observed, which forms the counterpoint to the increasing complexity of the digital world of work.

Innovations in the field of natural or high-tech materials are not always visible at first glance, but they also contribute to completely new effects, but also to more sustainable production processes.

An increasingly important topic in the design area is sustainability. Why is this topic more than a trend?

Our society has developed a strong awareness of the need for sustainable production and consumption. Where trends previously critically questioned a certain material, a holistic canon of demands has emerged that covers virtually all aspects: In addition to the manufacture and distribution of products, this is also about the buyer's access to the product and its useful life.

Consumers evaluate their own purchasing behavior more clearly against the background of ecological aspects and a social attitude towards life that wants to express social responsibility. Also in the submissions to this year's ICONIC AWARDS: Innovative Interior, a whole range of products asserted themselves against this claim, as did the German Design Award.

Sustainability is increasingly reaching the middle of our society. What role do you think designers and brands play in this movement?

Brands and designers are being challenged anew by this movement. Companies that actively take up social issues and thus take on responsibility benefit above all. Campaigns must be clear and compatible. Designers are important initiators, they have a duty to develop better quality products and to encourage companies to invest in sustainability and circularity.

sustainable chair

Wehlers Design, RUM Chair, made from 100% recycled material

What are the expectations of “good design” these days and has this expectation changed in recent years?

If overproduction is to be avoided and products are to be more durable, they must be of outstanding quality and functionality - and they must really give consumers pleasure and offer them added value. This is the most important development in the definition of "good design": The functionally perceptible and understood sustainability plays a significant role in the success of a product today.

How do you define “sustainable design” and why is it a challenge to define general industry standards for it?

Sustainable design makes use of savings potential in all stages of production and supply chains, relies on a long life cycle in terms of materiality and function, supports the sustainability message of a brand, ensures long-term corporate success and is accessible to everyone.

It is therefore initially in the company's own interests to act with foresight and anticipate regulation at an early stage. At the UN level, but also here in Germany, there are regulations that drive the transformation. But the production methods and technologies used so far do not make it easy to decouple growth and the use of resources. This is especially true against the background of a growing world population, falling yield increases in agriculture and simultaneous pollution of ecosystems.

The German Design Council creates "added brand value through design". Why are design and brand development so closely related?

Design is the distinguishing feature in competition. We are experiencing a high level of saturation in the markets; products often seem interchangeable. First of all, it is the design language that attracts customers' attention. Recognition and trust in a brand are important parameters in building a successful customer relationship. A consistent design strategy strengthens brand loyalty if it can be experienced holistically.

Sustainable design

Copyright by Studio Flaer

Companies are challenged to deal intensively with customer needs. How does my product attract consumers' attention? How do I offer the highest level of quality and functionality in order to be part of my customer's relevant set through longevity?

How has the Corona crisis influenced the importance of design in our society?

With the Corona crisis, the own home experienced a new appreciation and estimate. The focus of attention was on one's own flexibility and the adaptability of rooms that were suddenly used for work and family life - often even by different family members for different activities at the same time. Furniture was moved or even exchanged in favor of better functionality.

At the same time, there is a growing need to turn the home into a feel-good refuge. As a place of retreat far away from the hectic news, you will find peace and security here. An individual arrangement of the bathroom or the purchase of a long-awaited piece of furniture should create comfort and refine the home with a personal touch - vacation from the crisis.

Sustainable design

GROHE Blue Pure, © Grohe AG

Why is it particularly important for our future to promote young designers and newcomers?

Promoting young talent means quality assurance and the ability to innovate. The creativity of students enables valuable changes of perspective. In the confrontation with the know-how and the practical drive of renowned companies, a considerable innovative strength usually arises. For the German Design Council, it is particularly important to open this door to the next generation for companies in Germany:

With the German Design Award Newcomer and the ein & zwanzig Newcomer Award, which annually presents the next generation of international talent during Milan Design Week, the German Design Council offers newcomers a prominent stage. For many years, we have also been giving awards to students and graduates in the context of other competitions. Many fruitful collaborations have already arisen here. Our newcomers have long since become drivers of a new modern age.

Thank you for the interview, Mr. Dietzold

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