educational foundation for academic research and teaching

We are committed to the common good. To fulfill our responsibility, we focus on academic research and education in the context of design. We want to make a significant contribution to the advancement of design for the common good. Therefore, we implement our own projects, which inspire and promote concrete changes in design education. It is of great importantce to us that the public learns more about the social relevance of design. We publish our findings to make them know to as many people as possible, thus contributing to the advancement of knowledge.

In addition, we also participate in external projects and support them financially: we cooperate with other foundations and nonprofit organizations to pool resources and work together to make a difference.

Our roots go back to the year 1953. It was only a few years that the criminal insanity of the Nazi regime had been brought to an end. The destruction caused by the Second World War was still visible and tangible everywhere. Many people were asking themselves what they could do to create a peaceful, free and democratic future. This also applied to people from the fields of industry, culture and politics who wanted to promote design (in today's terms) as a core component for sustainability. They were convinced that design comprised social, production-related, economic, functional, cultural and aesthetic aspects in equal measure.

Our fields of action


We support academic research in the context of design. This includes, for example:

  • Research and studies at German and international universities on academic topics, such as design and ethics, design theory, design philosophy, evaluability of design, as well as socially relevant objects
  • Academic exchange in Germany and abroad (e.g. meetings, panel discussions, workshops, conferences)
  • Publication of academic research
  • Projects conducted by other non-profit organizations based in Germany


We focus on the future of design education and design degree programs. This means, for example:

  • School education, academic education, professional training, especially the promotion of young designers
  • Cooperation with international design schools and design associations
  • Discussions and conferences on the future of design education
  • Studies on design education in Germany in comparison to international models of excellence
  • Projects conducted by other non-profit organizations based in Germany

Design and society

We support contributions to the social responsibility of design. These can be projects such as:

  • Exhibitions on design in Germany and abroad, e.g. in cooperation with leading design museums and schools
  • Lectures, conferences and publications on urban development with a special focus on sustainability aspects
  • Development of sustainability concepts, which are of significance to societal development and efficient use of resources
  • Projects conducted by other non-profit organizations based in Germany

Members of the Board

Christoph Böninger (1982) studied Industrial Design in Munich and Los Angeles. After graduating, he moved to New York and established the design department for Siemens in the USA. In 2000, he turned SIEMENS DESIGN into the internationally active design consultancy DESIGNAFFAIRS with offices in Munich, Shanghai and Silicon Valley.

After 20 years as a design manager, he founded the furniture manufacturer AUERBERG in the Bavarian Oberland in 2010. His furniture designs have been included in Die Neue Sammlung, the design museum in the Pinakothek der Moderne, as well as other museums.

He has been a curator at the Burg Giebichenstein Art Academy in Halle an der Saale since XNUMX and Chairman of the non-profit educational foundation iF Design Foundation based in Hanover since XNUMX.

Fritz Frenkler is co-founder of the f/p design GmbH with offices in Munich and Berlin and a subsidiary in Kyoto. After graduating in industrial design from the HBK Braunschweig, he first worked for frogdesign in Germany and the US before being entrusted with the development and management of frogdesign Asia in Tokyo. Subsequent positions included managing director of wiege Wilkhahn Entwicklungsgesellschaft, head of design at Deutsche Bahn AG and managing director of Deutsche Bahn Medien GmbH. From XNUMX to XNUMX he was treasurer of ICSID (now WDO) and since XNUMX he has been regional advisor of the World Design Organization (WDO).

In 2005, Fritz Frenkler was appointed honorary professor of industrial design at the HBK Braunschweig. In 2006, he was appointed chair of industrial design at the faculty of architecture of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), where he was professor of industrial design until 2020. In October 2020, TUM awarded him the title "emeritus of excellence" in the Senior Excellence Faculty.

Since 2013, Fritz Frenkler has been a member of the Architectural Arts Section of the Academy of Arts (AdK), Berlin, and in 2021, he was appointed senator of the AdK and director of the section. Fritz Frenkler has been chairman of the iF DESIGN AWARD jury since 1995. He has also been a board member of the iF Design Foundation since April 2018.

Designer and professor Annette Diefenthaler is focused on the question, what can design accomplish to improve our society. Her teaching and research at the Technical University of Munich aims to promote a human- and society-centered approach to design that results in solutions that are not only technically feasible and marketable, but also sustainable, just, and valuable. As Executive Director of the newly founded Munich Design Institute, she is entrusted with the task of establishing an integrative research center that anchors Human Centered Design in the context of the TUM.

Prior to joining TUM, Annette Diefenthaler spent XNUMX years at IDEO and, designing solutions for complex systems that are both practical and transformative, such as a high-quality school network in Latin America or a professional development program for school leaders. She is committed to ensuring that people affected by the impacts of design solutions are given equitable authorship in their development. A practical example of this approach is her collaboration with families impacted by the child welfare system in New Jersey to create a future-oriented vision for family wellbeing. Annette Diefenthaler has won several design awards for her work. She has been a board member of the iF Design Foundation since June XNUMX.

René Spitz was appointed to the board of the iF Design Foundation in 2021. Since 2015, he has been professor of design research and communication management at the Rheinische Fachhochschule Köln. He is an elected member of the school's senate and leader of the media design course.

As a researcher he focuses on the future of design education. He conducted an international study on this topic for the iF Design Foundation, which was published in 2021. Since 2022, in collaboration with Die Neue Sammlung (Munich), he has been leading a follow-up research project for the Foundation. The results will be published at the end of 2025. René has also written many books and articles on the social responsibility of design, on the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm (HfG) and on the fundamentals of design.

René participates in the peer review process for The Design Journal. From 2004 to 2007, he was chairman of the advisory board of the International Design Forum (IFG) Ulm and was responsible for the programme Designing Politics - The Politics of Design. He has curated numerous international design conferences and exhibitions in Europe and Asia. Over the past 25 years, the WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) has broadcast about 450 of his features on design.

For 20 years, René was the director of a Cologne-based consultancy for strategic brand management. From 1988 to 1991, he worked with Otl Aicher for Aicher's client durst (Brixen, Italy).

In 1997, René completed his studies in communication, German and history with a PhD dissertation on the political history of the HfG Ulm.

What others say about us

Hurray Hurray Podcast
66 – Rene Spitz

follow 71
August 07, 2023

to the podcast
Interview with Christoph Böninger and René Spitz

Issue 02.23
April 2023

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Architecture & Living:
Interview with René Spitz

Output 2 / 2023
March / April 2023

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BAUMEISTER – The architecture magazine:
Interview with Christoph Böninger

120th year
March 2023

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