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Samsung’s Felix Heck on Sustainability: "Young Designers Become New Blueprints"

For iF, it is a matter close to the heart to promote young design talent. Every year we call for ideas and concepts to be submitted for the iF DESIGN TALENT AWARD! In this design competition students have the chance to win a prize money of EUR 50,000 per year!

This would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. Samsung Electronics in particular has been working intensively with iF for many years to promote young international designers – both as a sponsor partner and in the jury. We are very grateful for the great commitment and would like to thank you very much – also on behalf of the newcomers!

We talk to design pro and iF juror Felix Heck, Head of Office at Samsung Design Europe in London, about the most important social challenges young designers face and how they can achieve the UN Sustainability Development Goals. Samsung Electronics won 61 iF DESIGN AWARDS and two iF gold awards just in 2020 – an extraordinary success!

>> Read the five questions – and his answers below:

iF: With your long-term, intensive commitment to promoting young designers, Samsung sets standards. Could you explain to us the goals that you associate with promoting the iF DESIGN TALENT AWARD?

Felix Heck: 2020 looks like we are living in a future we imagined in the past. Even before the pandemic, we saw issues in our planet that are quite serious. Our creative community is no more binary, and the role of design is shifting, the blurring of design disciplines as a reflection of current culture. Based on this process young designers become new blueprints to achieve a better and more sustainable, regenerative future for all. I do not associate other goals than placing my hope in them for a better future.

Samsung’s Felix Heck on Sustainability:

Felix Heck is Head of the Samsung Design Europe in London, United Kingdom, since 2014, that is one of the global design studios at Samsung Electronics. He had already been collaborating closely with Samsung Electronics when he founded his own design studio felixheckdesign in 2007 in Munich.

Sustainability and relevance are among the central social challenges of our time. How does Samsung confront this issue?

Society is waking up to the scale of the challenge it faces in balancing consumption with protection of our environment. We see how consumers are embracing brands that are leading the charge into circular economy models as well as turning away from brands that aren’t seen to be doing enough. There are two ways in which strategic sustainable practices are driven in Samsung; through strategy, moving the company itself to sustainable corporate practice, and through design and innovation, supporting consumers in their journey to be sustainable. Our aim as one of the world’s largest and most respected brands is to lead the way for both.

How should young design talents respond to sustainable consumption and production, if they want to meet the sustainability goals of the UN?

Sustainability goals so far have not reached in enough positive momentum to ensure our future. We need to start doing more and design regeneratively to meet the goals. Design talents from all over the world urgently need to think and optimise the status quo and reducing the damage. Anything less than 100% sustainable – which means the vast majority of products that are consumed and produced – is inevitably a direction going downwards. Especially young design talents need to set the bar much higher and find ways going an upward direction.

In your opinion, what is a 'design-worthy' student concept?

One that resonates with a positive human future. Whether it's through product design or user-experience design, constantly exploring ways to take sustainable goals to the next level and to shape the next wave of sustainable experiences. A 'design-worthy' student concept is a dialogue around the challenges and opportunities presented by sustainable frameworks and, as set out above, by regenerative design thinking. It ideally illustrates how all things – including products, produce, living, economics, and social systems – can benefit from informed creative decisions in the early stages of design development.

What is your advice to young design talents? What are the key skills you expect when looking for new designers for the Samsung Design Team?

We’re interested in talents that can look beyond their passion for design. Understand the drivers that empower yourself and others and stay hungry for knowledge. You might be just leaving university but from this moment the learning for many other things just starts. Learning never stops. So we’re looking for a high degree of creativity mixed with a high level of discipline to foster your curiosity and grow your knowledge. Our future will be built on great ideas that will require great artists and generous sharers as well as deep thinkers and good listeners.

In this year's second round of the iF DESIGN TALENT AWARD, Samsung Electronics has committed the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 on responsible consumption and production. These concepts in category 12 have been awarded:

(published in October 2020)