1. What is a Designathon?

Designathon is a design marathon; with a goal to commission projects for a design biennial.

Combining the creative, entrepreneurial world of startups, tweaking it with a curatorial approach, the BIO 26 team is crafting a design marathon, in which an interdisciplinary team will be putting their minds and hearts together to solve a design challenge. In an intensive three-day working session, you and your team will have time to rethink the future of information processing, sharing, and understanding through challenges from established institutions, guardians of our knowledge production and transmission, and designing proposals with passion, creativity, and curiosity.

The six best projects win. Efforts from the first Designathon will be presented at the end of day three and will be judged by BIO 26’s expert advisory committee for the chance to be one of the six commissioned projects for BIO 26.

2. Timing and dates

The initial meeting and first design marathon for all the groups and their members will be organised in MAO from May 17-19th 2019.

By the end of the first Designathon best ideas to go forward to Designathon 2 will be selected. Designathon 2 will take place from July 12-14th 2019.

Selected applicants should be present for both Designathons.

On September 23rd groups will present their projects and progress; this event is designed to plan the realization of the project for the exhibition. For this event it is enough for the appointed group member to be there to present and others to be available for Skype.


Open Call • Deadline for Applications is April 21st, 2019
The open call for participation in the inaugural Designathon part of the 26th Ljubljana Design Biennial (BIO 26) will be open until April 21st, 2019. You can choose up to three challenges to participate in, but you will be selected for only one.

Invitation: April 22nd • May 5th, 2019
After all applications have been received, a special selection committee will nominate the participants for the first BIO 26 Designathon. The chosen participants will be announced for each of the challenges proposed on May 5th, 2019.

Designathon #1| Ideation to Prototype • May 17th–19th, 2019
The nominated teams get the opportunity to work with prominent designers and knowledge holders from each partnering institution to create innovative solutions for the challenges proposed in the Designathon.

Winners Announcement • June 1st, 2019
An international jury will select and announce the six winning projects, one per partnering institution, that will continue development in the next Designathon: Prototype to Product. These projects will be commissioned by BIO 26 and will be presented in the exhibition.

Designathon #2| Prototype to Product • July 12th–14th 2019
All winning teams will receive special mentorship by distinguished designers and experts, as well as seed money to further develop their ideas and prototypes for the biennial.

Show Off • September 23rd, 2019
The winning projects get the chance to work toward an exhibition installation at their partner institution and the chance to present their projects during the 26th Ljubljana Design Biennial.

BIO 26 Exhibition Opening: November 14th, 2019
The 26th Biennial of Design runs from November 14th, 2019 to February 9th, 2020 in Ljubljana.

3. How will you select and form groups for the Designathon?

Applicants can apply for up to three challenges. Curatorial team, together with mentors will then review applications and select applicants for each challenge. Applicants will be informed on the selection and challenges before Designathon 1; on May 5th the latest.

4. Can I switch challenges, when selected?

No, once selected you can not switch challenges. You can imply your wishes by selecting your favourite challenge first or select just one challenge. The order of your selection will be taken into consideration.

5. Will participants be refunded for travel and accommodation costs?

The Biennial of Design (BIO) does not cover travel costs for participants.

The Biennial of Design will provide basic accommodation and food during workshops for the time of both Designathons. Basic accommodation means sharing a room with other participants (hostel dormitory bedrooms) or other improvised accommodation on site or in the vicinity. Participants are required to handle any other arrangements than those provided by the biennial at their own expense and within their own organization. Relevant information regarding accommodation will be communicated accordingly.

Each group will receive certain budget/seed money for realization of projects. The expenditure of the production budget will be decided by mentors and in agreement with other Curatorial team after Designathon 1.

6. How are the teams expected to work together? How do you envision the working process?

Groups will deal with different themes and will consist of participants from different professional fields, backgrounds and experiences and will have to collaborate together on Designathons. Selected applicants will actively collaborate within their team in developing and producing ideas and concepts and presenting them.

Working dynamic of each group and meetings in order to develop the project, after Designathon 2 – either in person or via different communication channels (Skype, mail, etc.) – will be decided by team members.

On September 23rd the group will have to appoint a representative to present the project at the event. Other applicants will have to be available via Skype to join the presentation and reviewing process.

7. Will the groups have support for realisation of their projects also after BIO 26?

BIO 26 will provide the platform for development of the projects as well as offer networking in period between May 2019 and November 2019. However, the aim of the biennial is to set the framework within which the projects could continue beyond the duration of the biennial. We hope that at least some of the projects will continue their path beyond the duration of the biennial and succeed in reality.

8. Who can apply? Can groups participate?

Whether you’re a complete beginner, student, young or established professional you’re welcome to participate in this event and apply. We encourage diversity and multidisciplinary so we invite professionals and students from various fields to apply to challenges and help uncover multi-diverse aspects of design approach.

You can apply as an individual or as a group. If you attend to apply as a group, bear in mind, you will be working together with other Team members. There will be around 5-6 members in each group and everyone will collaborate on a challenge to develop one selected winning idea further.

If you apply as a group please specify that in application, that you are part of a group and that you take part only if both/all are selected; if that is the case. If that is not the case, you can apply in a separate application or specify that in one application.

9. How do I prepare myself for Designathon 1?

There is no need to prepare for Designathon in advance. All information will be provided to you at the event.

10. What will be the selection process at Designathon 1?

Advisory Committee together with the BIO 26 Curatorial team and project mentors will select the groups to move forward. Criteria for selection will be revealed at the beginning of Designathon 1. Guidance and other help will be provided to participants in order to realise their idea/concept.

11. I can not come to Ljubljana on 17-19th of May, can I participate at Designathon 1 via Skype?

No. The event is organized and can work only if groups work closely together. Intensity and dynamics requires individuals to be present in Ljubljana. For that reason, we decided to organize this event on the weekend. When applying bear in mind to reserve those three days of both Designathons.