Overwhelming interest in CIRCO workshop during the Munich Creative Business Week


Last month Germany's largest design event took place: the Munich Creative Business Week.

Monisha van Heteren


Last month Germany’s largest design event took place: the Munich Creative Business Week. For nine days, the Bavarian capital was transformed into a hotspot for the design community. CreativeNL was present with its own program, with a focus on Circular Thinking.

CreativeNL’s goal is to bring together design thinkers and doers from all over the world and to turn ideas into actions that contribute to a strong creative sector and a more beautiful world. During this week, CreativeNL sought cooperation with creative Germany and specifically Bavaria in the field of knowledge and innovation and stimulating entrepreneurship.

By invitation of CreativeNL, Pieter van Os (Programme manager CIRCO International) gave a demonstration workshop in which he conveyed the importance of design for the circular transition using the CIRCO methodology. The interest in the workshop was overwhelming. Together with Pieter we look back at the Munich Creative Business Week.

Why was there so much interest in the workshop?

There was certainly a lot of enthusiasm for the workshop provided by CIRCO. We even decided at the last minute to schedule an extra online workshop to give all interested parties the opportunity to participate. What I notice is that more and more companies, creative professionals and knowledge institutions see the importance of circular design. If you look at it from the perspective of climate and environmental issues, it is also abundantly clear; more than 80% of all product-related environmental impacts are already determined during the design phase. It is also increasingly recognized that circular innovation also significantly strengthens their competitiveness and right to exist in the long term. That requires fundamentally different thinking and acting. Companies and designers need a concrete approach to take the first step towards circular entrepreneurship. The CIRCO method, which was central to the workshop, perfectly meets that need.

How far is Germany with circular design at the moment?

Germany is definitely no stranger to us. They already do a lot in the field of circular design. For example, there is already a CIRCO Hub in North Rhine-Westphalia and we are now training trainers in Baden-Württemberg and Saxony together with the Impact Hubs. In addition, we are currently investigating the possibilities of setting up partnerships in other German regions. The Munich Creative Business Week is the ideal place for this. To share our experiences and start a dialogue with potential local partners and companies.

Can you tell us something about the background of the participants?

The participants came from very different backgrounds. Obviously designers and other creative professionals from Germany, but also from other parts of the world. For example, I spoke to participants from Egypt, Mexico and the USA. A number of designers participated on behalf of innovative companies and the participants included policymakers from municipal and regional governments. There were also participants from the Technical University of Munich and the Hochschüle who emphatically made a substantive contribution during the workshop, but are also looking to give circulation and inclusiveness a place in the design process.

How was the workshop experienced by participants?

The participants found the CIRCO method ‘nice and practical’ and told me that they wanted to take steps in the field of circular design. In Germany there is still a kind of engineering culture, based on data and facts. This has taken German industry a long way, but they see that more is needed for the societal challenges of this period. Their expectation is that if you can add circular design as an element to that, you really have the future in your hands.

How do you look back on the workshop yourself?

Partly due to the very different backgrounds, a nice dynamic was created, in which dialogue was often sought. There was also room for a round table in which we discussed the ambitions of the participants and together explored how circular design and the CIRCO method can contribute to this.

I am very happy about the fact that a number of parties that have participated will further investigate whether they can set up a CIRCO Hub together. A Hub like this consists of sectoral and regional parties that take on the implementation of Tracks. Even after completing a Track, a Hub supports entrepreneurs in realizing their circular ambitions.

Have you followed inspiring workshops yourself?

I found the talk&connect with Dr. Leyla Acaroglu very interesting. She challenges people to think differently about how the world works. She connects systems, sustainability and design as tools to tackle the planet’s biggest challenges. Sascha Friesike also spoke during this talk. He is Professor of Digital Innovation Design at the University of Berlin. He examines the role of digitization in science and looks at how creative people work. The question was how disruption can fuel creativity. How do we as humans deal with radical changes, how do something new emerge from the past and current shifts in our society – and what role does design play in this?

What did you bring back from the Munich Creative Business Week?

It is good to see that circular design is also a popular topic across the border. We had interesting conversations about circular design and its implementation within your own production process. It also emerged from those discussions that there is a need for tools that can be used to influence consumer behaviour. I fully understand this need, but we only focus on facilitating businesses. Through the circular design knowledge platform CIRCONNECT, we are working together with 14 other parties, to make knowledge about consumer behaviour widely available.

I look back on a successful, inspiring week with circular design fully in the spotlight. I would like to thank everyone who was present. In particular CreativeNL, the Consulate and the Municipality of Munich. It was another great opportunity for CIRCO to put circular design in the spotlights abroad as well.