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eyes on the prize: german design awards 2023 announces the winners

german design awards 2023 at the ambiente fair in frankfurt


On 3 February 2023, the twelfth German Design Awards will be presented during the Ambiente Fair in Frankfurt. The award’s broad thematic range demonstrates how social and ecological factors play a decisive role in all areas of design as they respond to current social challenges. 

eyes on the prize: german design awards 2023 announces the winners
A winner from the Excellent Architecture category: ERRE arquitectura transformed an empty urban space into a contemplative oasis of calm for the Clinica Alejandria

all images courtesy of German Design Awards



The results of the German Design Awards 2023 present a distillation of contemporary trends. With its broad, international scope, the GDA showcase the best in design from various different areas – from branding to packaging to digital products, from consumer goods to architecture. The awards, presented by the German Design Council, celebrate the designs that move us. In 2023, the overarching theme is represented by our confrontation with ecological and social issues. Additionally, the pandemic has also left a clear mark.



4,200 entries from 57 countries competed across 68 categories, with the highest ‘Gold’ prize being awarded a total of 98 times this year



Lutz Dietzold, Managing Director of the German Design Council explains: ‘The German Design Awards make visible those companies, projects and products that move with and reflect the times, that drive sustainable solutions and provide innovative answers to an ever-changing world.’ The designed environment echoes current issues and problems – and the GDA honor achievements that respond to social and political changes with new perspectives and innovative answers.

eyes on the prize: german design awards 2023 announces the winners
With Betula, the manufacturer nevi has developed the world’s first floor covering made of birch bark that is also suitable for wet rooms. The material is sustainable, does not swell out and also offers a warm feel



Shaping our environment


A glance at the jury alone shows how multi-layered the awards are. It is made up of 36 personalities from various areas of the design scene. They include renowned designers such as Mark BraunAlexander FehreCarole Baijings and Hanne Willmann, but also brand and strategy experts from companies such as Telekom, ProSieben and Microsoft Medical Devices. 4,200 entries from 57 countries competed across 68 categories, with the highest ‘Gold’ prize being awarded a total of 98 times this year (in addition to ‘Winner’ and ‘Special Mention’ prize categories). Backpacks, cutlery, lawnmowers, buildings, apps, toothbrushes, a power plant, as well as brand identity implementations were all among the winners. The list of Gold winners reveals a clear focus on topics that concern society as a whole and which have become particularly relevant in the last three years of pandemic.



The Rooftop Walk was designed by MVRDV and extends urban space onto a second level, allowing visitors to walk above the rooftops of Rotterdam at a height of over 30 metres



The new balance between work and life


Recent changes in the workplace have been striking. Long periods of home-office time have meant that many of us now see the office much more as a place of meeting and exchange. Instead of static walls and fixed desk spaces, employees increasingly demand flexible areas that adapt to our daily activities, changing teams and multi-layered projects. To this end, Palmberg‘s modular, electrified movable wall system Clamp creates customized and acoustically quiet spaces in open-plan offices whenever and wherever they are needed and, for this reason, was awarded ‘Gold’ in the ‘Product Design’ category by the GDA jury. How the use of indoor and outdoor spaces has changed is also demonstrated in the ‘Architecture’ category. Here, MVRDV‘s Rotterdam Rooftop Walk received the highest accolade. This temporary, 600-metre-long pedestrian bridge expands the open urban landscape without using up extra space by adding a second level to the existing urban fabric. Interior project Clinica Alejandria by Erre Arquitectura in Valencia was also awarded ‘Gold’ and is an example of how healthcare facilities can be turned into feel-good spaces. A sacred, sober and elegant space was created in the existing building, characterized by organic forms, clay mortar and a well-considered lighting design, thus conveying a sense of relaxation as opposed to one of sober hygiene.

eyes on the prize: german design awards 2023 announces the winners
The Gold-prize-winning, modular and electrifiable Clamp movable wall system by Palmberg responds to modern working environments. It creates space where it is needed depending on the situation



Designing the digital


Another current theme which found itself among the ranks of award winners was digital solutions for everyday activities and was particularly evident in projects from the ‘Communication Design’ category that were awarded gold. The Bionic Reading project, for example, seeks an innovative approach to digital reading habits by typographically highlighting the first letters of a word. As the brain completes the word, Bionic Reading thus promotes faster reading. The metaverse – the extension of our reality through virtual spaces – was also evident in the strategies of certain entries, such as in fashion retailer About You’s online shop. With the label Hypewear, a virtual fashion space was created in cooperation with Dept. ‘This concept, which is still new but makes sense in view of the increasing use of social media, wants to encourage customers to reinvent themselves digitally. In times when reality has long since merged with the digital world, offering virtual fashion is only logical,’ was the jury’s reasoning for awarding it the top prize.


eyes on the prize: german design awards 2023 announces the winners
Paula Keilholz, nomiated in the Newcomer category of German Design Awards 2023. © Martin Diepold



All green


Sustainability, of course, remains a central theme. Ecological, social and global challenges put topics such as circular economy, recycling and green energy balances at the center of many designers’ focus. Contemporary projects, such as nevi’s Betula flooring made of rapidly renewable birch bark, demonstrate an environmentally motivated practice.



‘I think, more than ever, it’s about developing meaningful products’



The portfolios of the five finalists for the German Design Awards Newcomer Prize also demonstrated how social and ecological issues also occupy the minds of younger designers. Katharina Düing, Paula Keilholz, Anna Koppmann, Tim Schütze and Tobias Trübenbacher are graduates of different disciplines at German design universities, but they share the same thematic universe: they deal with ecological, social and global challenges in their work. ‘I think, more than ever, it’s about developing meaningful products,’ says product designer Tobias Trübenbacher, who has developed, among other things, a climate-neutral street lantern that reduces light pollution and generates all the energy it needs from a wind turbine.

eyes on the prize: german design awards 2023 announces the winners
Tobias Trübenbacher nominated in the Newcomer category of German Design Awards 2023. © Martin Diepold



Fashion designer Paula Keilholz, on the other hand, has tackled the subject of evening wear. ‘These garments are actually disposable because you only wear them once. I designed sustainable disposable items; garments that are starch-based and that you can only wear for one evening – but with a clear conscience.’



About You and Dept’s digital fashion store for virtual fashion won Gold in the Excellent Communications Design category.


The winner of the Newcomer Awards have yet to be chosen. All brands, companies and products will be celebrated on 3 February 2023 during the Ambiente trade fair at the Awards Show in Frankfurt am Main, where the ‘Personality of the Year’, ‘Public Choice Award’ and the ‘German Design Awards Newcomer’ – with a prize of 15,000 euros – will also be announced. From 3 to 19 February, the award-winning projects can also be viewed at the Angewandte Kunst Museum, where there will also be talks and guided tours on relevant design topics. For those who cannot make it to Frankfurt, there is also a comprehensive online gallery in which all projects and award winners are documented with project descriptions as well as the reasoning behind the jury’s decisions to award the respective prizes. 


eyes on the prize: german design awards 2023 announces the winners
Bionic Reading uses typographic emphasis to stimulate the brain to automatically complete words



Guest Feature by Tanja Pabelick / Architonic

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