FUTURE DESIGN PERSPECTIVES – International Ambassadors

The FUTURE DESIGN PERSPECTIVES project qualifies a new generation of designers who will actively create the future of societies of the world.

Solving global problems requires global exchange. That's why internationality already starts in our studies: FUTURE DESIGN PERSPECTIVES is a platform for intercultural dialogue between students, teachers and experts. In cooperation with international institutions, content-related and aesthetic discourses of diverse perspectives in design are dealt with.

A rotating team of Student Ambassadors links the institutes in Essen and Rochester, NY through joint workshops, they visit international congresses and present the developed processes and results from the collaboration referring to the projects question "Backtracking Modern Times. Are the ideas of Modernism sufficient to solve 21st Century problems?" The Student Ambassadors acquire fundamental mediation skills for future design activities in an international context and expand the Embassies' network. The acquired knowledge will be provided to international students in a travel log, in open access and print media.

The students' intercultural experiences are expressed in their designs as cosmopolitan designers of the future who act responsibly in international and intercultural discourse.


When designing in an intercultural context, we have to learn to deal with our differences by trying to appreciate each others cultural heritage and values. We embrace the joy of finding unexpected similarities. Further we determine the practical and technological criteria for our design. At last we define which common perspectives we would like to meet.

“With the fierce trend to ‚protect‘ cultures comes the misguided notion that civilization best maintain their integrity when isolated and spared contamination. A broad view of history suggests just the opposite: Societies prosper when they intermingle, when ideas and knowledge are transferred in the exciting dance of cultural cross-pollination.“

Steiner, H. & Haas, K. (Des.) 1995. Cross-Cultural Design: Communicating in the Global Marketplace. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd. p. viii.


Dialogue is a core element of our work as designers and design researchers when working in intercultural settings. This means dialogue in its broadest sense – dialogue about the immediate design topic, dialogue about design philosophies or attitudes, dialogue on past, present and future, dialogue on cultural, social and political aspects. In the project Future Design Embassies – International Student Ambassadors it is one of the main challenges for the student ambassadors to establish, document and reflect this dialogue.


Curiosity for otherness is an essential requirement for being part of FUTURE DESIGN PERSPECTIVES. But also our state of mind as (future) designers and design researchers depends on openness, our work and methods are shaped by transparency, are culturally aware and open to new ideas. Therefore, current and future design solutions can have ambiguous meanings and include different ways of use. They are considered of the complexity in collective as well as individual behavior and always refer to (inter-)cultural contexts.

“I have a positive interpretation of ambiguity, intended as a plurality of meanings, or the ability of conferring to an object or a design the possibility of being read in different ways - each one complementary to the other to enrich the subject and give more depth.”

Massimo Vignelli: The Vignelli Canon, 2010, p.18.


The platforms of transfer created by the project "FUTURE DESIGN PERSPEKTIVES - International Ambassadors" not only carry out the work results of the participants into the world, they also strengthen the students' understanding of themselves as future designers.
The working methods in the FUTURE DESIGN PERSPECTIVES project are groundbreaking for the design of social change, they are setting new standards for design education and potentially for the transformation of other university disciplines. 
The project contributes to the students' understanding of democracy and a cosmopolitan attitude.


Design is essential to address social, economic and environmental challenges faced by societies around the world. To achieve sustainable results a holistic approach is needed, including all the stages of the product life cycle, being willing to compromise, foreseeing the consequences of design choices, asking oneself key questions, and steady reflection.
Regarding intercultural interweavings the FUTURE DESIGN PERSPECTIVE project’s aim is to create sustainable products through intercultural exchange. By considering cultural differences we break up fixed structures and create awareness of differences that effect our work as design practitioners and researchers.
Togetherness is the key element to figure out what we can do to create sustainable products for a sustainable society.

“We are for a design that lasts, that responds to people’s needs and to people’s wants. We are for a design that is committed to a society that demands long lasting values […]. We like design that is clear, simple and enduring. And that is what timelessness means in design.“

Massimo Vignelli: The Vignelli Canon, 2010, p. 30.


Project management
Sebastian Goldschmidtböing
Josh Owen
Ambassadors Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, GER
Ambassadors Vignelli Center for Design Studies RIT, Rochester, USA
Zaheer Shujayee