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The iF Story in short: Design for Good since 1953

Each year, iF International Forum Design GmbH organizes one of the world's most celebrated and valued design competitions: the iF DESIGN AWARD. Recognized as a symbol of design excellence around the world, the iF DESIGN AWARD welcomed 2021 almost 10,000 submissions from 60 countries.

Our reputation as one of the oldest truly independent design institutions in the world rests on our integrity, which clearly sets us apart from our competitors. Since 1953, iF e.V. has followed six guiding principles:

  • To identify, support and promote good design
  • To raise awareness of design among the public and the role it plays in our lives
  • To help companies integrate design into their long-term strategies
  • To safeguard the role of professional designer and boost awareness for this job profile
  • To effect social change through design
  • To support talented young people and create a public platform for young designers

Picture above from iF jury session 1990, left to right: iF tech assistant, iF tech assistant, Herbert Lindinger, Kenji Ekuan, iF tech assistant, Herbert Schultes, Dean Richardson, Robert Blaich, Michele de Lucchi, Dieter Rams, Yuri Solovjev, Vittorio Lampugnani, Stefan Lengyel.

The iF Opening Story

1953: Germany was still struggling to overcome the impact of the Second World War, at home and abroad. Six years after the British occupying forces selected Hannover as a venue for trade fairs, efforts were made to complement the fair with an institution that would foster and support the “formal design of industrial products” in Germany.

The Hannover Messegesellschaft was inspired by the ideas of the visionary entrepreneur Philip Rosenthal, who also played a key role in the Federation of German Industry (BDI), where he was committed to bringing together the worlds of culture and business. This concept was also adopted for the foundation of the new institution. Together with the Messegesellschaft and the Federation of German Industry, Rosenthal created this unique institution: iF e.V.

This was the start of a symbol of design excellence that is recognized to this day – the iF logo.

The aim was to draw attention to particularly well-designed industrial products. In doing so, they wanted to communicate the importance of design and all it can achieve: for users, for brands and for societies. A new image for German products began to take shape. Fitting then that the resulting association was first known as 'Die gute Industrieform e.V.' (Good Industrial Form). The name Industrie Forum (or iF for short) came later.

Bauhaus Icon Wilhelm Wagenfeld on the iF Opening 

The iF Story in short: Design for Good since 1953

Wilhelm Wagenfeld provided valuable support at the time and wrote a wonderful opening address for the foundation of iF Industrie Forum Design e.V. His address was published in the first book on iF e.V. Although six decades have passed since then, his words have lost none of their significance, enthusiasm and validity.
Download the opening adress by Wilhelm Wagenfeld about "Thoughts and Experiences of a Designer" in English below.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld's Opening Address PDF | 364.57 KB

In the same way in which we can read from an antique jug what trends and move ments over time have influenced the master craftsman, in that same way, an industrial product shows us the mindset from which it is derived.

As the original movement looked back to the Bauhaus and its concept of 'good form' – a combination of ethical and aesthetic qualities – so too the iF DESIGN AWARD has long become a symbol for excellent form, for aesthetic quality, and for user-focused, ergonomic and efficient design in all disciplines, by companies around the world.

In 2001, iF International Forum Design GmbH took over the operating business that includes organizing and hosting the iF DESIGN AWARDS. Since then, iF e.V. has focused more on its role as a mediator between design and business.

Over 60 High Profile Jury Sessions and Award Ceremonies, Social Impact and a new Foundation

And every year since, iF invited designers and manufacturers to judge which designs are award-worthy and which not – not only the number of award entries grew over the years –  the number of jurors from all around the world grew to about 70 to 90 people each year. Such designers like Dieter Rams, Richard Sapper, Franco Clivio or Stefan Dietz and Paola Picasso, to name a few, have already taken part in the iF jury sessions.

Scroll through all iF jurors since 1954!

Today, we organize one of the world's most celebrated and valued design competitions: the iF DESIGN AWARD. Recognized as a symbol of design excellence around the world, the iF DESIGN AWARD welcomes almost 10,000 submissions from more than 60 countries every year.

Read about our last physical awards ceremony for the winners of the iF DESIGN AWARD in 2019!

Winners at the iF Design Awards Night in Munich

Design and Social Impact: The iF Social Impact Prize since 2017

Girls Not Wives Foundation Nigeria

Now as never before, the future of design and the future of our entire planet are intertwined. Problems such as inequality, overconsumption and climate change have been addressed by designers before. Today and tomorrow, social responsibility is a topic that design cannot ignore. Established designers and students alike are challenged as never before to find creative solutions to the greatest problems of our time.

Since 2017, iF supports projects by companies, social entrepreneurs, design studios, NGOs, foundations, public and other organizations with the iF SOCIAL IMPACT PRIZE. The submitted projects should approach or solve a relevant problem, reflect moral-ethical standards, strengthen group relations or create positive experiences and meet the UN sustainable development goals. No fees are charged and the best projects will be honored with a prize money of EUR 100,000 in total. Since its beginning, we supported 51 projects with prize money and published more than 2,000 projects in the iF World Design Guide and almost 1,000 on the iF App.

2018: The New iF Design Foundation

In April 2018, the non-profit iF Design Foundation was established. Its aim is to promote design and its social significance, free from commercial pressures and restrictions. This new foundation replaces iF Industrie Forum Design e.V. (iF e.V.), which operated from 1953 until 2018. The iF Design Foundation is based in the German city of Hannover.

Through our design awards and social engagement, we have built an outstanding international reputation for the iF brand. The new iF Design Foundation will build on this, actively developing a more versatile mission.

Read more about the projects of the iF Design Foundation.

Future: Berlin, we are coming!

Two major iF events were planned moving to THE creative metropolis Berlin. After eight years in Munich, the iF design award nights 2020 and 2021 should take place in the Friedrichstadt-Palast, but the Corona pandemic stopped these plans temporarily. “Berlin is one of the most fascinating and exciting cities in the world! Elected as UNESCOCity of Design, Berlin turned to be one of the most creative hubs in Europe and globally", says Ralph Wiegmann, CEO at iF.  We have to wait and see what the pandemic allows us in 2022.

Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin

We are confident that the coming sixty years of design will be even more exciting and more fruitful than the last sixty years. iF is honored to be a part of the history and future of design!