A competition for substantive design

Call for entries

Why do people do design? To earn money of course. To design something more “functional“, “beautiful“, “cheaper“, “sustainable“. In fact, each time the idea is to make the world that little bit more of a better place.

However, at work we often come up against limits in this regard. Which is why we are now calling for entries for the competition for world-improving designs – with no fixed definitions, be the piece commissioned or not.

Wherever you look on Planet Earth there are crises: Globalization. Climate change. Racism. Social injustice. COVID-19. This has nothing to do with design? Untrue! It is the reason why we are returning to that very fundamental question: What is good?

Or, to be exact: How can we design meaningful things? How can we design living spaces that will endure? And how can we facilitate social relationships? In other words, the focus is on products, on spaces, and on communication – or simply the things designers make.

This competition is different.

We're not looking for glossy solutions that would normally deserve an award „for being the best in a class of artistry“, but for projects that you’ve always wanted to do because they are good and important. They can be small or large, crazy or realistic. What they must do is want to make the world a better place. Because we believe that designers can make an important contribution in this regard. And because everything here is different, there is also no real jury, and instead all the participants meet at the end of April for a workshop, together discuss all the entries, and choose the winners.

Your curiosity kindled? Then read on for the details!


Open to everyone

Friedrich von Borries



Product / Space / Communication

Do we want to continue living with products and systems that are manufactured and distributed under socially disgraceful conditions, that promote impoverishment, climate change and resource wastage and damage our health? Companies have long since started gearing up for the fact that consumers are more informed and critical. There is an awful lot that has already been set rolling, and a whole lot more that needs to be changed once and for all. Starting with what we eat and how we heat, with our clothing, the small and the key everyday things, through to tools, mobility forms, and the means of production. What is a good GOOD?

City, countryside, nature ... trade and commerce ... the commons, homes, and mobility ... cultural and knowledge spaces. How can we design these lifeworlds and experiential spaces in a manner that secures their future, enhances them, and fosters their diversity? Spaces will become increasingly constrained if we do not approach them correctly. Meaning we must now open them up and give them a more sustainable, more valuable, more social form.

Our history books write that the Age of Enlightenment has long since been and gone. However, if we consider statements by the one or other conspiracy theorist, the discourse on news and fake news, the increase in the manipulative potential of purportedly “social“ media, the ghastly pace at which discrimination and hatred of people who think differently spreads, and with them anger, then it is clearly high time for a major new Enlightenment. We must combat intellectual, social and ethical poverty with new communications concepts and the broad dissemination of knowledge. But how?


How can I participate?

Who can take part in the competition?

The DDC’s WHAT IS GOOD Competition is aimed at designers and students of all disciplines as well as anyone interested in design, non-profit organizations and institutions, NGOs, the self-employed, and companies – meaning everyone.

What projects can be entered?

Entries can consist of real projects, existing concepts or completely new ideas in the three categories of “Product”, “Space” and “Communications”. The only precondition: The project must not have originated before 2019. Who counts as the initiators of an project entered: Either the designers themselves or the design-interested client who has devised the project together with a designer or as part of an interdisciplinary team.

How should the project be prepared for entry?

The entry method is very simple: Those submitting the project should describe it in a maximum 1,000 words and 10 images (graphics/photo/film [no longer than 3 mins.]). A maximum three days should be used for the entire entry. The project can only be submitted digitally. Either as a PDF, or as a Micro-page/Website is the effort required is not excessive (for exact details of the entry conditions see below)

How are the entries judged?

The classical criteria are not used in the judging. Low costs can be more important than durability. Factors changing society can be more important than aesthetics, pragmatism more important than perfection. What counts is potential impact the project has for changing prevailing (mis)conditions and processes and for fostering a social, democratic and eco-friendly future.

DDC charges a registration fee of EUR 50 (plus VAT) per project entered.

Entrance is free of charge for students and non-profit organizations/institutions.

By when must the submission be made?

The deadline for receipt by email or link is June 30, 2021. E-mails may not be larger than 10 MB. For additional files please use one of the customary download platforms such as WeTransfer.


Procedure and key dates at a glance

1. Deadline for entries

JUN. 30, 2021


The competition deadline is not a long way off. Intentionally. As we don’t want you spending days and weeks dreaming up a project worthy of winning. We want you simply to table a good idea that you’ve always wanted to present, perhaps and existing project that already exists or for which you have not yet found a partner or a client, a creative graduation project or term paper, or simply something completely new that you find an absolute must. — Deadline for entries: Jun. 30, 2021

2. Approved for the admission to the competition by the preliminary jury

JUL. 1 – AUG. 6, 2021


All entries submitted will be checked by a preliminary jury chaired by Friedrich von Borries to make certain they comply with the rules stated in the call for entries (see: Entry Conditions). If possible, all the projects that seek to make the world a better place should be presented at a workshop on Sep. 16, 2021 where they can be discussed. Depending on the scope of the projects entered and approved, the jury will then decide (and communicate this transparently) whether possibly a preselection by type of content is necessary. After all, the workshop’s capacity may be limited by COVID-19 or by time constraints. At any rate, all projects approved for admission will be presented on the DDC Website in the coming year. — Announcement of participants in the workshop: from Aug. 9, 2021 onwards

3. Preparing the participants for the workshop

AUG. 9–31, 2021


All entrants invited to the workshop then have a good two weeks in which to prepare their verbal presentation. It may not be longer than 10 minutes. In order to ensure everything runs smoothly at the workshop, you will have to send us any supporting visual presentation before the workshop commences. The technical details are given in the Entry Conditions. — Deadline for submission of digital presentations for the Workshop to the DDC Office: AUG. 31, 2021

4. Workshop & Symposium

SEP. 16, 2020


We will meet up in Frankfurt’s MakersSpace “Tatcraft” for the workshop and symposium. Owing to COVID-19 alternatively or possibly additionally there may also be online conferences and participation forms. All entries/projects invited to take part will be presented on Sep. 16 by the designers/authors in a 10-minute time slot within the particular category and jointly evaluated by all participants. Each category has the task of using this democratic method to nominate a maximum of three projects for the final round. The DDC will appoint three independent moderators for each workshop group; the moderators support and structure the evaluation process. The workshops will feature Internet streaming so that anyone interested, colleagues and friends can follow the event. Depending on overall conditions, in the evening there will be a get-together for the workshop participants in the “Tatcraft” canteen. — Workshop: Sep. 16, 2020

5. Symposium & Awards Ceremony

SEP. 17, 2021


On Sep. 17, 2021 alongside the entrants, DDC members and patrons, guests from universities as well as the world of culture, politics and business will be invited to attend. From early afternoon onwards we will listen to inspiring lectures by designers and renowned protagonists of the design discourse on the topics of Product, Space and Communications. The respectively nominated projects will be presented in the framework of these themes. Immediately afterwards, a democratic vote will be held – with all participants present eligible to vote – to choose the best project in the WHAT IS GOOD Competition. The prize money that can be won will be announced in the near future. Because we want you to take part not for the money but because of the task. All entrants will receive a certificate that they successfully participated / were nominated / won. At the end of the symposium, the DDC Board will open the evening event with a summary of the competition. After a keynote on the competition topic of WHAT IS GOOD, the new honorary DDC member will be announced. Then everyone present can celebrate – there’ll be music, drinks and good food. The plan is for streaming and a digital conference should COVID-19 necessitate such an alternative. — Symposium & Awards Ceremony: Sep. 17, 2021


Preliminary jury

Independent approval of the entries for admission to the competition by an expert and interdisciplinary jury

Patron Friedrich von Borries

This competition is different: A jury first views all the works in terms of formal aspects. The later nomination of projects and choice of winner will be entirely up to the participants in the workshop and symposium. In other words, a decidedly democratic process.

Friedrich von Borries

Three jurors will be nominated for each category, and they will later act as moderators in the workshops. We will announce the names prior to the beginning of the selection process. The jurors / moderators will not themselves take part in the competition.


Entry Conditions

We cordially ask you to carefully study the formal conditions outlined below as they are key to whether an entry is successfully approved for the competition.

Dates, registration fee, entry formats

Deadline for entries
Jun. 30, 2021

Approved by the jury
for the competition

Jul. 1 – Aug. 6, 2021

Participants prepare
for the workshop

Aug. 9–31, 2021

Deadline for submitting your digital presentation
for the workshop to the DDC Office

Aug. 31, 2021

Sep. 16, 2021

Symposium & Awards Ceremony
Sep. 17, 2021


There are 13 formal conditions that your entry has to meet

  • Entries must only be made digitally, either by sending files or by a Micro-page/Website.
  • Entrants provide a description of their project: max. 1,000 words and 10 images (graphics/photo/film – not longer than 3 mins.).
  • The project may not have arisen before Jan. 1, 2019.
  • The first page of the presentation must state the project title and competition category (Product, Space or Communications) for which the project is being submitted.
  • The project participants and their responsibilities and possible credits must likewise be stated on the first page.
  • Submit your entry as a PDF or as a Weblink to wasistgut@ddc.de; the deadline for receipt is Jun. 30, 2021.
  • The entry can include a link to a download for accompanying image or film files.
  • The presentation must be in a 16:9 landscape format.
  • Image files must have a resolution of 300 dpi in A4.
  • Film files must be MPGs or MP4s, in a format of 1920 x 1080 and a max. length of 3 minutes.
  • The entrants declare with their entry that they are willing should it be approved by the jury to take part in the workshop on Sep. 16, 2021 and present their project orally there.
  • Travel costs to attend the workshop/symposium cannot be reimbursed.
  • With their entry, the entrants declare that they agree that after the end of the WHAT IS GOOD Competition the DDC may post/use all the text and images submitted (to the extent that the entry was approved for inclusion in the competition) on its Website and as part of press releases, exhibition or documentation of the competition for an and such authorization is not limited in time or space.


Registration fee
EUR 50*

Entry is free of charge for students and non-profit organizations/institutions (please include proof).

The registration fee covers the following:

  • Registration of the project entered and approval for admission to the competition (preliminary jury)
  • Further preparation of the information made available
  • Posting on the DDC Website
  • Participation in the workshop and Awards Ceremony/Symposium

The organizers’ decision is final.

* All costs per entry plus 19% VAT.

Register for the competition is emailing wasistgut@ddc.de attaching the entrance documents.


What is good

A Deutscher Designer Club Podcast

Since the beginning of August, the competition has been accompanied by a weekly Podcast entitled “DDCAST – What is good design?“. In contributions of some 20-30 minutes, you can listen to relevant voices from all fields of design, from related disciplines, from the worlds of scholarship, business, and politics.

We explore the question of how good design can influence the necessary changes in our social reality. The multifaceted contributions are inspiring, provocative, but also focus on future solutions. The DDCAST gives potential competition participants stimulating perspectives when it comes to elaborating their new ideas.





All information about the competition is available for download.



The DDCAST and the WAS IST GUT competition including workshops are supported by the city of Frankfurt.

The WAS IST GUT Symposium and Gala are supported by the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transportation and Living.

The DDC Competition WHAT IS GOOD is kindly supported by Wirtschaftsförderung Frankfurt.

Our media partner is the independent design magazine form.