Designing politics - The politics of design

IFG Ulm Promotion Programme
International Public Announcement
Call for entries
Submission Deadline: 31 May 2006

send your application to:
Internationales Forum für Gestaltung (IFG) Ulm

The International Design Forum IFG (Internationales Forum für Gestaltung) Ulm announces its promotion programme and is thus expanding the design dialogue which has been continued in Ulm over the past decades, to include the active creation and dissemination of knowledge. Analysis, implementation, communication and didactic dissemination to a professional audience will occupy the key roles.

With the promotion of projects, IFG Ulm is creating free space for an autonomous, critical examination of current social processes in all their complexity. The focus is on four factors: establishing, strengthening, supporting and learning from and with projects. Design is understood here as an exchange of knowledge and opinion given shape, extending the concept of form into transform, and thus including action. Design is therefore always transformation.

Promotion by IFG Ulm includes, but is not limited to financial support alone. IFG Ulm provides networking, the exchange of experience, and cooperation.

Designing politics – The politics of design

»Culture and politics […] belong together because it is not knowledge or truth which is at stake, but rather judgment and decision, the judicious exchange of opinion about the sphere of public life and the common world, and the decision what manner of action is to be taken in it, as well as to how it is to look henceforth, what kind of things are to appear in it.« —Hannah Arendt (The Crisis in Culture: Its Social and Political Significance, in: Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought, New York 1961, 223)

Ulm is the place in the world that has set itself the task of conducting a discourse on
the social responsibility of the designer and defining the democratic quality of design. What Ulm searched for and formulated is an answer by design to the crimes of the
Nazi regime: The Scholl siblings fought for things to be different, and the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm opened up alternative approaches to educating designers. On that basis, IFG Ulm continues to represent the conviction that the work of designers and architects cannot be reduced to aesthetic, technical and commercial factors. Design always rests on a social and political foundation, and acts upon that foundation in return. What does this vision mean to us today?

With the promotion programme »Designing politics – The politics of design« in 2006, IFG Ulm is taking up this discourse which started over 50 years ago, and is investigating its current relevance. Today, Ulm is once again searching for what is different:

  • How can designers in future define their work in an extended and mediating field of relationships which also includes social and cognitive processes?
  • Is there a way for designers to initiate and regulate intervention and participation in the field of social transformation?
  • What design opportunities are linked with a view to action, networking and conditioning above and beyond formal clarity?

Ulm is looking for examples of projects which make the change from an economy of reification to an ecology of transformation. Projects which are dedicated to processes of becoming. Projects which direct their gaze behind the surface of the design process and which reveal that design diffuses transformational action into the space occupied by commercial and political decision-making. IFG Ulm&8217;s promotion programme is intended to encourage projects to develop consequences which leave a lasting mark on our social and physical environment.

The available grant amounts to EUR 50,000. It is to be allotted by IFG&8217;s Advisory Board upon receipt of applications. IFG&8217;s Advisory Board reserves the right to allot this sum to one project or distribute it among several projects.

The projects may be

  • scholarships for the compilation of a project application which the beneficiaries are to submit to another body (i.e. not IFG Ulm). The aim is to facilitate projects which would fail without this promotion for the sole reason that the preparation for a project grant currently requires an extremely large amount of work.
  • initiative projects which draw attention to deficits in design practice. The spectrum extends from town planning, country planning and architectural questions to time-related functions within product or communication design. It is a characteristic of these projects that public attention is sought and an examination of design quality is performed on the basis of the alternatives identified.

The decision will be made on 23.09.2006. It will be preceded by a non-public hearing on 22.09.2006 in the building of the former Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm. A selection of the applications submitted will be presented at that hearing by the applicants and discussed with invited guests.

Applications may be submitted by

  • academic institutions,
  • journalists, researchers and designers, and
  • graduates of universities in any discipline who can provide evidence of at least three years&8217; professional experience.
The members of the IFG Advisory Board and the participants in the hearing are barred from receiving grants from IFG Ulm.

Please submit your application (max. 10,000 characters) to IFG Ulm by email only by 31.05.2006. The address is Entries by post will be disregarded. Please also state in your application the sum for which you are applying. You will receive a reply by 31.07.2006 indicating whether you are invited to the presentation on 22.09.2006. Travel and overnight accommodation expenses for that presentation will be borne by IFG Ulm.

Should you have any questions, please visit or send an email to Annette Diefenthaler:
We look forward to receiving your suggestions.

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