Creative Businesses

Hamburg's design industry holds huge potential for innovation

11 May 2023
Laura Rohloff, new director of Design Zentrum Hamburg, talks to Hamburg News

Around 150 people attended the launch of the so-called "Design Thirstday" at the Design Zentrum Hamburg in mid April. "To kick things off, three designers introduce themselves and their projects. Then there is time for conversations in a relaxed atmosphere," says Laura Rohloff, who took over the management of the centre in February. She succeeds Frances Uckermann, who is concentrating on other tasks at her own request. The opening was attended by Lukas Cottrell, managing partner of the Peter Schmidt Group, Gabriele Günder, editor-in-chief of Page Magazine and Tanja Hildebrandt, Art & Creative Director of Re.Frame Studio. Rohloff said: "We plan to repeat this event about every one to two months. The next 'Design Thirstday' will be held on June 1."


13,000 designers generating EUR 3 billion in turnover

Rohloff had previously developed communication events in agencies and publishing houses and as a management consultant at the Bucerius Kunst Forum. In 2021, she was appointed Project Manager of the Creative Future Academy run by the Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft, which founded the Design Zentrum Hamburg in 2018.  "I don't come from classic design, but from cultural management, which is perhaps quite a good basis for dealing with this extremely diverse industry." More than 13,000 people work as packaging, fashion, graphic or communication designers in around 4,500 companies and generate around EUR 3 billion in turnover every year.


1st Design Thirstday in Design Zentrum Hamburg

Solutions to present challenges

Asked about her plans, Rohloff said: "We have identified several topics that we would like to advance through programmes and events. Networking is one of them, promoting young talent and sustainability are other important topics for us." Designers are central to the shift to a circular economy. "Designers are at the interface between manufacturers and consumers and can, for instance, have a significant impact on the materials used and drive the circular economy approach," she added. The Silberstreifen Award (literally Silver Stripe), which honours solutions to present-day challenges, focused on zero waste this year. "The award ceremony and the exhibition of the award-winning projects highlighted the industry's huge potential for innovation," Rohloff stressed.

Laura Rohloff, new director of Design Zentrums Hamburg

Design - key economic factor in Hamburg

The "20 out of 22" exhibition will shine the spotlight on young designers from May 12-21, 2023. "We will present the  20 best finalists from Hamburg's design colleges and academies. Textiles, film and print products, topics such as artificial intelligence or resource-saving consumption will be addressed in installations." The graduates hail from the Academy of Fashion & Design (AMD), Brand University of Applied Sciences, Design Factory International (DFI), Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW), Hamburg University of Fine Arts (HFBK) and the University of Europe for Applied Sciences (UE). The many universities in Hamburg give the city a cutting edge as centre of design, said Rohloff, adding: "However, we also have many large agencies that offer diverse career opportunities. Design is a key economic factor in Hamburg."


"20 out of 2022" exhibition

Sources and further information

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