Prof. Dr. Peter Zec

Professor Dr. Peter Zec: a profile

From 2005 to 2007 he held the most important positions in the design world: Professor Dr. Peter Zec, born in 1956, was president of the international umbrella organisation of industrial designers Icsid (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, today: World Design Organization) and in this role he had significant influence on the fate of design in recent years. He was the first German to hold this post in the association’s almost 50-year history and, according to the statutes, changed over to the senate after two years.
The communication expert had the right skills and expertise for the job. Since 1991, he has been head of the internationally renowned Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen. During these years he acquired profound knowledge on design history and the economic relevance of design, published books and compendia on design and accepted invitations for lectures all around the world. Zec has gained recognition in the design world as a passionate and competent advocate of design. The many international activities of the design promoting institutions have created a dense network of designers, design experts, entrepreneurs from design-relevant industries and design lobbyists which forms the basis of his work as a design promoter.

In October 2006 WirtschaftsWoche, one of the leading German business magazines, elected him one of the “20 most innovative and unconventional thinkers who have changed the face of their company or created completely new markets.” 

However, the father of three is not only professionally involved with design. Zec is someone for whom design is a way of life. He loves well-designed cars and reveres Charles and Ray Eames for their sitting furniture. And as a declared advocate of the suitable wine glass for every wine he likes explaining in great detail how the form, size, diameter, and cut of a glass influence the taste of the wine.
However, his design understanding does not stop at luxury articles. In all the years he has kept an objective view of the design world and sees design as a complex phenomenon: “Besides its commercial aspects, design has important socio-cultural aspects, which should be promoted more. This also, and above all, includes professional design training, because in the newly industrialising countries in particular, design training is still based on imparting knowledge about the adaptation of already existing ideas and design forms. The aim, however, has to be to raise creative, independently thinking and bold young designers, who are able to find innovative design solutions for their culture and thus increase the quality of life in their countries,” explains Zec.

As a former president of the World Design Organization, Zec today holds the rank of a senator. The title “Senator” was created so that the vast experience and expertise of former presidents would remain accessible for the association. The senators form a board of experts; this means they have to be consulted on all important issues and give their agreement. Thus they retain a high degree of influence on the association as well as the design world.