Shaping futures by Design

MCBW 2021: Impressions and Highlights

Ten years of Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW) – what an anniversary year! bayern design, Bavaria’s center for design competence, has been organizing the design week and offering a platform for encounters, events, and discussions about design every March since 2012. After undergoing a transformative process due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MCBW this year included predominantly digital and hybrid events. For nine days, from March 6 to 14, the virtual MCBW edition in a newly created digital “room” eliminated the constraints of geography and time and introduced entirely new formats: panel discussions, design conferences, expert talks, virtual exhibitions, workshops, online awards, and design films. The assortment of creative ideas, approaches, and formats made this MCBW unique and very lively with 123 digital and hybrid events attended by 82 program partners and 35,000 (mainly virtual) visitors. Motivated by the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, MCBW became a shining example of innovative ingenuity, illustrating once again the importance and power of the creative and cultural sectors.


The motto of this year’s MCBW was Shaping futures by Design. “Does the future come to us or do we move towards and into it?” asked German futurologist Matthias Horx provocatively in his keynote speech at the digital MCBW reception hosted by MCBW Director Lisa Braun. Passionately, Horx declared that blind trust in the industrial society has become outdated once and for all. According to Horx, the designers of the future need to join ranks with nature, energy, and matter. He said the crisis is not a time to put our heads in the sand; rather, it presents us with opportunities to tap potential. Hubert Aiwanger, Bavarian State Minister for Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy, also joined the event digitally. He defined MCBW as an important silver lining for the cultural and creative sectors saying: “The high acceptance of the various digital formats makes me optimistic with regard to the future. In particular, the large bandwidth of topics covered shows the importance of the industry if we are to overcome the many current challenges.”




In 2020, the MCBW START UP exhibition was held at the airport; this year it took place in a virtual room. With just one click, visitors found themselves in the midst of a start-up landscape of fashion, architecture, cosmetics, interior design and other innovations made in Bavaria. At the diverse stations participants could find images, background information, and interviews with founders of brands including AMBILETICS, Caala, and Sause. Depending on their interests, the virtual visitors had the opportunity to dig deep into a specific topic or move on to the next one. Videos from the exhibition can be found on YouTube.




How does technology influence design and art? Answers to this question were provided in a live stream by representatives of BMW Design and of teamLab which has attained particular international acclaim for its fantastic, interactive, and visually stunning exhibitions and shows. The interdisciplinary team combines art and knowledge transfer in a playful manner with a focus on visitors’ experiences. The team of BMW Design also places increasing importance on user experience: Once a final product has matured to perfection, the relationship with the customer can only be strengthened through intense emotion. The talk is available on YouTube.



“Gardens are not decorations, they are processes,” Piet Oudolf once said in an interview. This credo also became apparent in the film Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf which was presented at MCBW by the young architect network NXT A. In addition to showing renowned garden designer Oudolf and his professional approach, the film draws spectators’ attention to wild-at-heart gardens populated with shrubs and grasses. The structure of dead blossoms is one of Oudolf’s particular delights, heightening our perception of local landscapes currently still in winter mode. This year, all design films were offered at the MCBW DESIGNKINO as 24-hour live streams.



Should good education be aesthetic and entertaining? Yes, say designer Patrizia Widritzki, information engineer Ole Häntzschel, and curator Silke Zimmermann. In a discussion hosted by Nemetschek Stiftung during MCBW, they spoke about their cooperation on the exhibition titled #neuland: ich, wir und die Digitalisierung which currently is on display at Nuremberg’s Museum für Kommunikation. They believe participatory formats are easy to implement digitally and can reach, connect, and mobilize young people especially. The experts also discussed the fact that content retrieved actively can be conveyed more successfully. One way to do so is to use design that triggers positive emotions; another is good graphic visualization, for example, of complex statistics.



Industrial designer Stefan Spoerl would have liked to participate in MCBW with his team at Four Plus Design by showcasing an on-site exhibition about chair design. Instead, to accommodate the regulations stipulated by the state of Bavaria Spoerl, spontaneously organized an Instagram event. Every day during MCBW he posted videos with a variety of chapters on his approach. These videos clearly illustrated Spoerl’s steps including brainstorming, prototyping, adjusting, and implementing drafts. The added value of these explanatory videos was Spoerl’s narrations regarding his experiences with failures and construction errors. All videos are still av ailable on YouTube. #LearningFromOthers #LegoBrickMethod



The unique interactive TIME MATTERS installation displayed during MCBW was created by artist Jan Kuck in cooperation with his colleague Miro Craemer. In 2020, Kuck enriched the design week with his spectacular light installation titled Burning River. The focus of this year’s lighting art was the future. After sundown, visitors passing the large screen located at the center of the lake at Westpark were asked, “What would you change?” At intervals, a split screen showed Craemer’s dance performance. Viewers were able to retrieve the accompanying audio on their smartphones via a QR code. The installation was complemented by neon lettering scattered throughout the lake. The wide range of responses to “What would you change?” included funny, banal, profound, and pensive. The interactive work was open to everyone through the website or the MyArtWalk app.



One of the – literal – highlights this year was a video installation projected onto the façade of Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film (HFF) every day during MCBW from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Titled DIS CONNECTED, the video showed idealized creatures clad in black and white embodying both contrast and balance while floating in an artificially created space. The goal of the animation designers, Niklas Hofer of Uber Eck and MOTOMOTO’s Bastian Bormke, was to sensitize people to a new way of living together – accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digitalization has impacted the social behavior we have acquired over time, we are communicating in a variety of ways, and the term space has taken on new meaning. A teaser is available on Youtube.



DESIGNWALK, an entirely new format, invited visitors to come along on an informative walk through the Maxvorstadt neighborhood surrounding the HFF. At the eleven stations, participants’ attention was drawn to exhibits, design shops, manifestations, museum concepts, furniture design, and typography. Equipped with a smartphone and headphones, visitors were able to take the tour independently at any time. The QR codes displayed in the marked shop windows led to audio files with interviews of the respective designers. Among the stations was an impressive collection of 1950s advertising posters retrieved from old trams at the MCBW POP UP exhibition container, which was organized this year by MCBW cooperation partner design austria. Other stations included the oursuperstore exhibition in a small analog shop window at HFF and at Oskar von Miller Forum, and the DIS CONNECTED video installation shown in the evenings.


Save the date: The next MCBW will take place from March 5 to 13, 2022.