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Five leading European design platforms collaborate to galvanise the next generation of circular designers

Recognising that collaboration lies at the heart of climate action, a pioneering three-year collaboration has been forged among five major international design platforms and annual festivals – Skopje Design Week (North  Macedonia), Mikser Festival (Serbia), designaustria (Austria), What Design Can Do (the Netherlands), and Barcelona Design Centre / Barcelona Design Week (Spain). Together, they have united to launch the ambitious project: Next Gen Design, aimed at not only fostering youth participation but also instigating a paradigm shift towards circular design.

Galvanising the next generation of designers As the world grapples with the escalating climate emergency, millions of young people have risen in response, deeply concerned about the threat to their future and the state of the world. Young people across the world have shown remarkable energy and creativity, urging decision-makers to adopt ambitious policies. However, there remains a significant gap between hearing their calls and taking concrete action.

The Next Gen Design project directly addresses the urgent need for the innovative and ambitious involvement of youth in shaping our future. The initiative presents an opportunity to address systemic inequalities and pave the way for a better future through design. Through the creation of an innovative educational platform integrated into official design festival programmes — plus annual design competitions in 2025 and 2026 — the project will highlight the crucial role of design festivals in promoting sustainable and circular economy principles. By blending physical and digital events, this platform will elevate design festivals to new heights, maximizing participation and fostering engagement across both online an in-person.

The future of design and climate action The collaboration of five major international design platforms and annual festivals – Skopje Design Week, Mikser Festival, designaustria, What Design Can Do, and Barcelona Design Centre/Barcelona Design Week will shine a light on the importance of circular design and how young designers can contribute to the European Green Deal. The partnership emerged as a response to the pressing need to empower young designers aged 18-35 across Europe to take an active role in shaping a sustainable future.

Through a series of surveys, open calls, and events and residencies, the three-year project seeks to inspire a new generation of designers committed to making a positive impact on their communities and the planet. By engaging young designers, the project will not only harness their creativity and talent but also instill a sense of responsibility towards sustainability and circular design of a wider audience.

“Next Gen Design is an opportunity to learn from each and exchange ideas on sustainable future between the youth, the established design community and the general public,” says Maja Lalić, creative director of Mikser Festival and one of the founders of Next Gen Design.

“But, in addition to learning, this platform provides an opportunity for all stakeholders including citizens, and even experienced creative professionals to “unlearn” together with new generations of designers and innovators all the harmful practices that have been imposed to us via linear mode of economic growth and production.”

Amplifying voices for change Next Gen Design kicks off on Tuesday, 2nd April 2024 with the opportunity for young people aged 18-35 across Europe to participate in a survey that aims to amplify young people’s voices on environmental issues. By sharing their opinions, young people will contribute to understanding awareness gaps and shaping impactful solutions.

The survey results will directly influence the following Next Gen Design open call for innovative solutions from young European designers. The survey will serve as a reference for future actions, fostering youth engagement in climate change solutions and advocating for a circular economy across Europe.

The Next Gen Design project will be premiered to a wider audience at the upcoming Mikser festival in lower Dorćol from May 23 to 25, through a series of thematic lectures, workshops and exhibitions. Entrance to the festival is free, and you can participate in the Next Gen Design programs by completing the survey at this link https://nextgendesign.eu/

Next Gen Design is co-funded by European Union through Creative Europe Program.