We have learned, felt and experienced so much in the past few months! Change, digital transformation, creative problem solving: These are all terms that we’ve been using for some time, but they suddenly sound quite different and new. Challenging is the word that we like to use, because it suggests athleticism, ambition and also, at the same time, a slight sense of exhaustion. But this isn’t about wearing the jersey for being King of the Mountains, it’s about not carrying on doing things in the old way but, rather, taking steps in a new direction.

Today, more than ever, design is in a position to demonstrate both the role that it can play in society as a discipline and the positive influence that it can exert through the development of the tools and processes that we will need in the future. The work of designers involves not only the development of products, but also the shaping of social processes. And we will need both if we are going to make progress on the basis of all these experiences.

Improving digital literacy is important and we are particularly delighted that, having increasingly focused on digital matters in the past few years, we are significantly expanding the program even more this year. We would like to invite you to visit not just our physical Festival Headquarters but also our virtual exhibition spaces, where you can take part in guided tours and discussions.

We have our eye on the future and can say with certainty that we will continue to celebrate design both close to home and far beyond Austria's borders. Switzerland, our Guest Country, is visiting our Festival Headquarters in Meidling. But this won’t be the only cultural exchange! Contributions from our neighbor run through the festival program. We’ll be visible throughout our Focus District Meidling and our newly conceived public engagement program aims to engage with a diverse audience.

We are also celebrating an anniversary: 15 years of the Passionswege. This part of the program is, in fact, one year older than the festival itself. An exhibition will reunite visitors with past features from this popular festival format. 

And, while we haven’t the slightest intention of complaining, we’d like to return briefly to the challenges that we have been facing: We are a non-profit organization and have delivered this festival to a local and international audience, free of charge, for the past 14 years, with the deepest conviction and commitment. In recent times, the festival has been financed by a healthy balance of public money and sponsorship from the private sector. The lockdown and its aftermath had an immediate and dramatic impact on us. In this situation, our public partners have proved themselves, more than ever, to be vital and loyal supporters and companions. We are extremely grateful to them!

Designers – and the VIENNA DESIGN WEEK team – are well-practiced in reacting to challenging situations with flexibility and curiosity. For this, my colleagues have earned my lasting gratitude, and I can say with confidence that we have, once again, succeeded in putting together a richly varied festival program in 2020.
I would like to thank you for reading this program with interest and we are looking forward to meeting you soon – in both our virtual and our physical spaces!

Lilli Hollein