A profile

Professor Dr. Peter Zec

From 2005 to 2007, he holds the most important position in the design world: Professor Dr. Peter Zec (born in 1956) becomes president of the international umbrella organisation of design Icsid (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) and as such will have a decisive impact on the fortune of design in the coming years. He is the first German to take on this office in the association’s almost 50-year history.

As professor of business communication, Zec sees design promotion not only as the task of the designers but also of the go-betweens. The world organisation faces enormous tasks since it has mostly concentrated on design promotion in industrial nations so far – however, it will have to act not only internationally but globally in the future. “We have to pull together in future in order to advance design issues,” explains Zec. “This requires - similar to a well-functioning choir – not one strong voice, but as many voices as possible that sing the same song.” Zec, the son of a Bosnian father and a German mother, sees his personal challenge for his Icsid presidency also in mediating between the different groups and nationalities within the association and to make them heard internationally on the highest level.

The communication expert seems to have the right qualifications for this task. Since 1991 he has been head of the internationally renowned Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen. During these years he has acquired profound knowledge on the history and the economic relevance of design, has published books and reference works on design and has accepted invitations to hold lectures all around the world. In the design world, Zec has gained the recognition of being a passionate and competent advocate of design. The many international activities of the German design promotion institution have gradually created a dense network of designers, design experts, companies from design-relevant industries, and design lobbyists, which forms the basis of his work as a design promoter.  

However, the father of three children does not only have a professional interest in design. Zec is someone who lives design. He loves well-designed cars and admires Charles and Ray Eames for their sitting furniture. And as a declared advocate of the right wine glass for the respective wine he likes to explain in detail how glass form, size, diameter, and cut influence the wine’s taste.

His design understanding, however, goes far beyond luxury articles. Over the years he has kept an objective view on the design world and regards design as a complex phenomenon. “Apart from commercial aspects, design also has socio-cultural aspects, which should be promoted more. This also includes design training. Particularly in the developing countries, design training is mostly about transfer of knowledge about and the adaptation of existing ideas and design forms. The aim has to be, however, to bring up creative, independently thinking and courageous young designers who are able to find innovative design solutions for their own culture group, thus improving the quality of life in their countries,” demanded Zec in his inaugural speech.