1st Hearing: Gmund am Tegernsee, Germany

13 – 15 March 2019, as part of Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW)


For the first hearing in Gmund am Tegernsee (Bavaria) 30 people from German-speaking countries were invited to share their views and experiences. The group included people from the fields of business, teaching and research.

What was discussed?

The invited experts agreed that, in future, professional practice in design will differ substantially from conventional practice. However, the changes will not apply to the fundamentals of design practice, which also include attitudes and behaviors (e.g., assuming social responsibility, critical reflection) as well as values and goals (e.g., humanity, diversity, sustainability, creativity, interdisciplinarity or transdisciplinarity, striving for improvement, fostering personal development, dealing with increasing uncertainty and complexity). All of these elements have been part of the ethos of design since the practice became established in western industrial societies 150 years ago. This is something design shares with all other scientific and economic practices.

The situation is quite different when it comes to the concrete manifestations of design practice that differentiate it from other practices. Here, the changes have long had consequences for everyday professional life. Digitization is the central driving force for comprehensive change. This change will be even more pronounced in the near future. It particularly affects the specific knowledge and skills that will be required for a successful professional career. At this point, the discussions went deeper, as participants expressed different points of view.

For example, there was the question of which analog, manual as opposed to digital, fundamental skills should be taught at the beginning of a design degree course. The danger of overloading the curriculum was pointed out, for example, if designers have to know, or even master, classic production techniques and at the same time have to learn programming. Participants also discussed what share design theory and history, and also the sciences, should have. Does design have to be (re)-politicized and which social and communication skills are necessary, for example in intercultural cooperation? How can the reputation and complexity of design be improved in business and society?


There was unanimity regarding the definition of design practice as an interaction of thinking and designing; as an integration of both mental and physical, iterative development processes. The metaphor of the “thinking hand” captures the point quite well. It ties in with the international discourse that is conducted under the title “thinking with hands”. The roots of this discourse can be traced back to ideas from Renaissance art theory around the term “disegno”, according to which the practice of design is characterized by the early production of illustrative material or prototypes, for example sketches, experiments or models. The participants proposed to use the term “visioning” for this.

You can download the summary of the conference here:

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