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iF Design Foundation_Hearing_1

iF Design Foundation

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.

The story of iF

Through its design awards and social engagement, iF e.V. and iF International Forum Design GmbH (iF GmbH) 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.

In 1953, the renowned German industrial designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld wrote an article for the first iF yearbook about the fundamental principles of design, in which he highlighted its social significance. Sixty-five years later, these principles form the basis of our new foundation.

Our Mission

Our mission is to support scientific research and education, culture, social engagement, environmental awareness, and sustainability. The iF Design Foundation will provide financial support for selected design projects as well as initiating its own projects – free from commercial pressures and restrictions. We will initiate and organize in-house projects, conferences, and much more.

In addition, the iF Design Foundation will cooperate with other design-oriented foundations and non-profits in order to pool resources, develop and realize joint projects.

The outcomes of the foundation's activities will be regularly documented and published.

Our Projects

The Future of Design Education - iF Design Foundation

"The Future of Design Education"

There are few professions that undergo such fast-paced change as that of designers. That’s why the iF Design Foundation is dedicated in this and in the coming year to the topic of the “future of design education”. In ten hearings lasting several days, it wants to go around the globe with experts from industry, universities of various disciplines and NGOs to describe and discuss a possible picture of the tasks of the designers of the future and the requirements profile for their training and education.

A catalog of 80 widely diverse questions based on an international study serves as an inspiration and guideline for the hearings. At the end of 2019, the findings of all the international hearings and a final conference will be summarized and published in a White Paper.

Download the catalog of questions

Group Photo_Hearing_1_in_Gmund_March 2019

The first Conference in Gmund near Munich

The first hearing took place from 13 to 15 March 2019 as part of the Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW) at Lake Tegernsee.

Further conferences in 2019 are planned in Helsinki, Toronto, Curitiba and Johannesburg.

Download the abstract of the conference

Our Fields of Operation

The iF Design Foundation will prinicipally support projects in the following thematic fields:

1. Scientific research in the field of design

We support...

  • research at German and international universities on scientific topics, such as design and ethics, design theory, design philosophy, the measurability of design, and other socially relevant topics.
  • academic conferences in Germany and abroad, including self-organized conferences.
  • projects and ventures of other German-based non-profit organizations.
  • intercultural research and studies.
  • the publication of academic research.

2. Art and culture

We support...

  • projects and ventures of other German-based non-profit organizations.
  • exhibitions on the history of design in Germany and abroad, for example in cooperation with the leading design museums or universities, such as the Bauhaus University, the Ulm School of Design, and Die Neue Sammlung design museum in Munich.
  • exhibitions and other events on the theme of crafts and design.

3. Education and vocational training, including student support, in particular the promotion of new creative talent

We support...

  • outstanding design concepts from international students who received a special distinction from the international expert jury of the iF DESIGN TALENT AWARD. This gives the students the opportunity to further develop their design concepts. Internships in Germany or abroad and other forms of professional development are potential options.
  • co-operation with international design schools and 'Cumulus', the leading international Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media. Students with different cultural backgrounds will evaluate major social problems and define possible solutions. The best concepts are selected and supported for further development and expansion.
  • debates and conferences dealing with the "design education of the future".
  • comparative studies of design education in Germany compared to international best practice.
  • student scholarships.
  • German-based non-profit institutions – these may apply for and receive funding for work on appropriate topics.
  • projects and ventures of other German-based non-profit organizations.

4. Nature and landscape conservation

We support...

  • lecture events or conferences on urban development or the strengthening of rural space with particular consideration of the environment.
  • the development of ideas and concepts on issues such as electromobility with a view to CO2 reduction or similar themes of relevance to social progress and efficient use of resources.
  • projects and ventures of other German-based non-profit organizations.

Foundation Board

The board of the iF Design Foundation consists of:

  • Christoph Böninger (Munich) - Chairman
  • Susanne Schmidhuber (SCHMIDHUBER/Munich) - Vice Chairwoman
  • Professor Fritz Frenkler (f/p design GmbH/Munich)
Board iF Design Foundation
Chairman, iF Design Foundation
Christoph Böninger

Chairman, iF Design Foundation

Vice Chairwoman, iF Design Foundation
Susanne Schmidhuber

Vice Chairwoman, iF Design Foundation

Board member, iF Design Foundation
Fritz Frenkler

Board member, iF Design Foundation

  • 01/04

Applying for Funding

>> Applications possible from 2019 <<

Project applications may be submitted at any time during the year. The management board of the foundation will make funding decisions at least twice annually. If funding is sought for a project that will run during the current calendar year, the application ought to be submitted no later than 31 March. Please bear in mind that each submission will need to be viewed, evaluated and processed. It is therefore not possible to reach speedy decisions on prospective funding outcomes. We ask for understanding in this respect.


A limited number of companies will act as patrons of the foundation, ensuring regular and committed dialogue on issues of future engagement. The annual donations of these patrons will also help to sustain and expand the influence of the iF Design Foundation.



1953 - 2018: iF Industrie Forum Design e.V.

1953 - 2018: iF Industrie Forum Design e.V.

iF Industrie Forum Design e.V. – or iF e.V. for short – was the world's oldest independent design institution. Its foundation in 1953 was closely linked to Hannover's status as a major venue for trade fairs. The aim was to create a partner institution for the annual industry exhibition that would foster and support the “formal design of industrial products” in Germany.

iF e.V. was founded to create a bridge between the worlds of culture and business. For six decades, both the association and its members pursued this goal with great commitment and success.

1953: The establishment of iF e.V

1953: The establishment of iF e.V

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.

The aim was to establish in the minds of industry leaders as well as the general public the idea that high-quality design is a key factor in success; to promote the view that a company which includes design in its philosophy, in its strategic decisions and in its product development would achieve sustainable success.

Furthermore, the association’s work focused on discussion and exchange in relation to design and on the continuous expansion and maintenance of a worldwide design network.

Wilhelm Wagenfeld

Wilhelm Wagenfeld

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.

2001: iF International Forum Design GmbH

2001: iF International Forum Design GmbH

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.

Contact us

Annegret Wulf-Pippig

Press Officer

Annegret Wulf-Pippig
Bahnhofstraße 8
30159 Hannover

Phone +49.511.54224-218

Sandra Fischer


Sandra Fischer
Bahnhofstraße 8
30159 Hannover

Phone +49.511.54224-211