International praise for the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen
From 18 to 19 October 2002, a successful conference on the future of design with a great number of participants took place in the red dot design museum. Design experts from Western Europe discussed the future of design promotion with the title ‘Design Promotion in the Context of Business Goals and Cultural Challenge’. The international organisation for design (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, ICSID) had chosen the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen as organiser for its Europe conference - a special appreciation of the institution and the location.
The international design world was highly interested:
Design organisations from 11 countries sent their top-class experts to ‘Zollverein’: participants came from Scandinavia, France, England, the Netherlands – and on special request even from Malaysia.
The conference showed: the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen is a special role model for other design institutions and promoters. The achievements of the Design Zentrum - the close contact to the industry, providing a communication platform for medium-sized businesses and designers and, furthermore, the substantial engagement as cultural design promoters in EU projects such as "European Design Network” and "CHIPS” – are now also being striven for in other countries. Particularly the Design Zentrum’s balancing act between promotion of the economy and the cultural component earned the Design Zentrum high praise and international recognition.
Particularly Northern Europe, with Sweden, Finland and England in the lead, has recognised design as an indispensable economic factor for the future. In these countries, the government actively supports and subsidises design promotion: In Sweden alone, national design promotion is being subsidised with Euro 27.4 m. Since 1944, the English Design Council has been an active design promoter, particularly supporting the economy and industry. In Finland, an extensive design promotion programme, ‘Design 2005!’, which is subsidised by the government, will establish design as an important and lasting factor in the economy and the industry. The goal is to make contacts between industry, trade, designers and the creative professions. – Not only for ‘Zollverein’, but also for the northern countries the year 2005 seems to be highly attractive. The ‘International Design Festival’ in Sweden and the design promotion programme for the economy ‘Design 2005’ in Finland will either open or have their climax in 2005.
The "extraordinary work of the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen and its president Prof. Dr. Peter Zec”, said the Norwegian chairman of the ICSID, Peter Butenschøn, has been an outstanding example of a successful promotion of a location for all participants. Dr. Irene Wiese-von Ofen, the former town councillor of Essen, introduced the participants to the development of the former mining complex ‘Zollverein’ triggered by design.
The significance of the conference for the region was also taken into account by the city of Essen: On an invitation by the Mayor of Essen, Dr. Wolfgang Reiniger, the design promoters visited the town hall on the first evening to have dinner high over the roofs of Essen with an impressive view on the city. The welcoming speech was held by the Mayor, Norbert Kleine-Müllhoff, who emphasised and praised the significance of the Design Zentrum for Essen as a design location and particularly for the development of the former mining complex ‘Zollverein’. After effective work and lively discussions, an informative sight seeing tour marked the end of the second day of the conference: A ‘Tour de Ruhr’ took participants to the ‘Arena Auf Schalke’ (a newly built football stadium in Gelsenkirchen), to the Gasometer in Oberhausen, to the RWE Tower and the Aalto Theatre in Essen. For the international participants, the conference ended in a dinner with a highly friendly atmosphere on Saturday night in a restaurant on the Ruhr.