Designathon #2: Prototype to Product

For the Biennial of Design we are commissioning six projects. The projects were selected through a designathon process—a three-day intensive, hands-on, sprint event in which curious and motivated people, non-designers and designers alike, collaborated on design challenges.

The 26th Biennial of Design, BIO 26 – Common Knowledge, curated by Austrian design curator and cultural producer Thomas Geisler together with assistant curator Aline Lara Rezende, is taking on one of the greatest challenges of our time: information.

Seventy-eight participants selected through the BIO 26 open call engaged in the second round of selection at Designathon #1, which took place in May in Ljubljana. Nominated in eighteen teams, they had the opportunity to work with prominent designers and knowledge mentors from six different partnering institutions of knowledge production and knowledge transmission in Ljubljana—a library, museum, university, retirement home, botanical garden, and newspaper—to create innovative solutions for the challenges proposed in the designathon.

An international jury of prominent experts — renowned Slovenian innovation scholar Aleš Pustovrh, curator at the Vitra Design Museum Amelie Klein, accomplished writer and director of the Design Museum in London Deyan Sudjic, professor of philosophy and fine art and a senior research tutor at the Royal College of Art in London Johnny Golding and curator at Museum of Architecture and Design in Ljubljana Maja Vardjan — selected the best projects by institution to progress to the next phase.

Designathon #2 will take place between July 12th-14th. 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.

The first designathon to commission projects for a design biennial. Combining the creative, entrepreneurial world of startups, tweaking it with a curatorial approach, the BIO26 team crafted a design marathon, in which an interdisciplinary team put their minds and hearts together to solve a design challenge. In an intensive three-day working session, the participants had 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.

Efforts from the first designathon were presented at the end of day three and were judged by BIO26’s expert advisory committee for the chance to be one of the six commissioned projects for BIO26. The six best projects won.

Seventy-eight participants selected through the BIO 26 open call engaged in the second round of selection at Designathon #1, which took place in May in Ljubljana. Nominated in eighteen teams, they had the opportunity to work with prominent designers and knowledge mentors from six different partnering institutions of knowledge production and knowledge transmission in Ljubljana—a library, museum, university, retirement home, botanical garden, and newspaper—to create innovative solutions for the challenges proposed in the designathon.

An international jury of prominent experts selected the best projects by institution to progress to the next phase:


1. Library

Group challenge: How can knowledge exchange between the National Library and external sites open access and add new value to the collection?

Participants: Thomas Hügin, Maja Kolar, Yuxi Liu, Alicia Lu Lin, Motong Yang, Špela Pavli Perko
Design mentors: Commonplace Studio
Knowledge mentors: Žiga Cerkvenik, Irena Eiselt, Janko Klasinc


2. Museum

Group challenge: How can visitors reconnect with the essential physicality of dance at the Temporary Slovene Dance Archive at MSUM?

Participants: Cyrus Clarke, Juliana Lewis, Monika Seyfried, Matevž Straus
Design mentor: Paolo Patelli
Knowledge mentor: Ida Hiršenfelder


3. University

Group challenge: Can a new knowledge production program stimulate exchange between faculties and civic actors to negotiate hierarchies and to give value to the everyday life of students and professors?

Participants: Gențiana Dumitrașcu, Adrian Judt, Simon Platzgummer, Andreja Pogačar, Janja Štorgelj
Design mentor: Apolonija Šušteršič
Knowledge mentor: Tomaž Deželan


4. Retirement Home

Group challenge: How to rethink retirement

Participants: Guendalina Ballerini, Rebecca Carrai, Emilia Izquierdo, Natalia Skoczylas, Barbara Peterca
Design mentor: Kathrina Dankl
Knowledge mentors: Monika Šparl, Matija Puškarič, Monika Vrhovnik Hribar


5. Botanical Garden

Group challenge: How to create a living seed bank

Participants: Eliza Chojnacka, Kamila Kantek, Gabriela Szalanska
Design mentors: Futurefarmers
Knowledge mentors: Jože Bavcon, Blanka Ravnjak


6. Newspaper - Group 3

Group challenge: How to use news archives as a new stakeholder in the media landscape to re-value news institutions

Participants: Maxime Benvenuto, Petra Matić, Aneta Pawlik, José Pérez, Zuzanna Zgierska, Jurka Mihelin
Design mentors: Bureau d’études
Knowledge mentor: Ali Žerdin


The six above listed winning teams will participate in a second designathon — prototype to product — taking place July 12th-14th in Ljubljana. Their projects will receive funds to be developed further into validated prototypes, installations, services, or systems to be exhibited during the biennial.

From November 14th, 2019 to February 9th, 2020 in Ljubljana, the 26th Biennial of Design, BIO 26 – Common Knowledge, will present the outcomes of the exploratory work of the winning teams at various locations in Ljubljana, complementing the main exhibition at MAO and accompanied by a special catalogue.