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NextGen Kicked off in Belgrade

The Mikser Festival in Belgrade marked the exciting launch of the NextGen educational program offering visitors a comprehensive exploration through various festival segments, including talks, workshops, and exhibitions. Over three days, the festival explored the themes of circular design, sustanbaility, crafts and tradition as the inspiration for design, application of locally sourced materials, community engagement and much more!

Plamena Halacheva, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, inaugurated the Next Gen conference with an inspiring speech. She emphasized the importance of youth-centric projects in paving the way for a more sustainable future. Halacheva highlighted the dual empowerment of young designers through education and consumers through environmentally conscious behaviors and sustainable product choices.

Photo: Miloš Čubrilo

Henriette Waal, an artist and designer, introduced the concept of micro-designers and discussed how local resource research within bioregions can foster ecological, economic, and social transitions. She stressed the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in achieving sustainable development goals

Photo: Miloš Čubrilo

Matej Feguš, CEO of Donar, showcased his innovative business model focused on creating sustainable furniture using PET-Felt technology. This approach not only produces eco-friendly products but also emphasizes the potential of repurposing waste materials into valuable industrial resources.

Photo: Miloš Čubrilo

Orhan Nikšić from the Bosnian company Zanat illustrated how tradition and innovation in contemporary design can coexist. He shared the evolution of Zanat from a one-man show—his father, a woodcarver—to a company that collaborates with renowned designers while preserving traditional craftsmanship. Nikšić also detailed how these skills are being passed down to new generations, ensuring the continuation of this heritage, that is recognized and inscribed on the UNESCO ‘s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Photo: Miloš Čubrilo

As we concluded our first stop of Next Gen in Blegrade at the Mikser Festival, we pass the baton to What Design Can Do in Amsterdam where the Next Gen Design adventure continues.

Meanwhile, we look forward to expanding our knowledge and hearing more youth voices through our ongoing survey as we continue this inspiring journey

Share your priorities in shaping more sustainable futures in this survey.

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Next Gen Design is a three-year programme of surveys, design competitions and eductaional events to encourage the European design sector — particularly young designers — to create, adopt and disseminate green and sustainable design that contributes to the European Green Deal. Five prominent European design platforms and annual festivals are collaborating: Skopje Design Week, Mikser Festival from Belgrade, designaustria from Vienna, What Design Can Do from Amsterdam, and Barcelona Design Center.

The project’s first step is to survey youth on their opinions and interests regarding environmental and climate issues. This input will shape the Design Open Call announced in January 2025, inviting young designers to tackle these challenges. An innovative educational platform will also be integrated into official design festival programmes. This platform will serve as a catalyst for promoting and educating on green and sustainable design, aligning with the goals of the European Green Deal. Through a blend of physical and digital events, the project will elevate design festivals to new heights, maximising engagement and awareness among participants.

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