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Transformative Design The Focus At iF Awards

Paul McGillick reflects on the iF Awards in Germany, which coincided with Munich Creative Business Week – a combination of business and design rolled into one.

Transformative Design The Focus At iF Awards

The judging hall, filled with thousands of entrants.

The iF (International Forum Design) Awards are 65 years old, making them surely the oldest in the world. This year the Awards were presented in Munich as part of the Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW).

MCBW is into its tenth year and, apart from showcasing the extraordinary design energy coming out of Bavaria and its capital, it is a model of how to make design relevant in the real world, to borrow Victor Papanek’s words. It works as a platform to bring business and design together in a dialogue using round tables, presentations and exhibitions. It is a conversation across sectors including creative start-ups, design-driven start-ups, strategic design and innovation – if you like, it is about the business of design and the design of business.


The judging hall, filled with thousands of entrants.The judging hall, filled with thousands of entrants.


The theme running through the event was that design transforms and enables both technology and business.

So, it was highly appropriate that the 2018 iF Awards be announced at BMW Welt (BMW World). This amazing complex on the edge of the city opened in 2007. Designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au, the architects commented that “the building does not have the boredom of a hall, it is not only a temple but also a marketplace and a communication centre and a meeting place for knowledge transfer.”


The ceremony took place in BMW Welt, designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au.The ceremony took place in BMW Welt, designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au.


Apart from customers picking up their personalised BMW (or Mini or Rolls Royce, also owned by BMW), huge numbers of people visit it for the museum, to inspect the cars, enjoy the dining facilities or simply experience the vertiginous, vertical space. Next door is the production plant boasting 880 robots, which are said to perform 98% of the assembly work.


Design is an enabler, transforming all kinds of businesses.


The awards and the giant after-party attracted people from all over the world. There were 6,402 entries this year from 54 countries, judged by 63 experts. Categories included product design, communication design, packaging design, service design, architecture, interior architecture and professional concept. IF Design Awards went to 1,218 participants, while 75 outstanding entries received iF Gold Awards.


Aēsop Leipzig, designed by Eins Zu 33.Aēsop Leipzig, designed by Eins Zu 33, won a Commercial Interior Design Award.


With limited space inside the auditorium, a large number of people socialised in the main public space and watched the award presentations on a giant screen – somehow getting a drink despite the ban on alcoholic drinks until the official start of the after-party.

It is not possible here to pick out individual awards – take a look here – but suffice it to say the 2018 iF Awards in their scope illustrated perfectly the MCBW themes, especially the idea that design is part of an ecology, not a stand-alone activity.

Design is an enabler, transforming all kinds of businesses. It is both driven by technology and a driver of technology, and it is key to sustaining an adaptive and innovative society.

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