1. Planet calling SOS! Der Planet ruft SOS! Gezegenimizden acil yardım çağrısı!

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    How to communicate the dimensions of environmental problems and the necessity for sustainable development? And how to do it in a way, everybody will understand – regardless which country they come from and what language they speak? From this idea developed the caricature exhibition „Planet calling SOS“, which will be presented at our Zukunftsraum in November and December.

    A picture is worth a thousand words. Whether it is a painting in a museum, graffiti on the wall or a photograph in a magazine, you can often understand the message without words. Pictures have a strong effect – and that’s exactly what the exhibition „Planet calling SOS“ is going for:

    Our planet needs help! We need to work together in order to protect the environment, on which our livelihood depends!

    That’s why INTEGRA Filder e.V. and the Turkish-English-German satire magazine Don Quichotte e.V. held the 1. International Caricature Competition with the topic “UN-Agenda 2030”. Participation was high: over 1000 caricatures were submitted from more than 60 countries. An international jury selected the 50 most expressive pictures are now on exhibition in different locations throughout Baden-Württemberg.



    With the help of the artists’ expressive pictures, the exhibition aims to raise awareness in our whole society – people with or without immigration background – and initiate a dialogue about sustainable development. Everyone should be aware that sustainability is important – and that we need it right now!

    A different kind of immigrant organisation

    INTEGRA refers to itself as a “somewhat different immigrant organisation”. Diversity and equal opportunities for everyone are their main goals, for which they work in education and with youth organisations. The basis of their work is in intercultural and global pedagogy, multilingualism and the criticisms of racism. Experiences of immigration and the immigration background of their members are considered a resource and a strength. Immigrants are encouraged to participate, for example as disseminators.


    Collaboration of different nationalities – this is how an exhibition arises out of some pictures!

    Young people with and without immigration background prepared the exhibition together and develop didactical materials for the travelling exhibition though Baden-Württemberg. Young people with good German skills support young refugees, strengthening their participation in the project. Erdoğan Karayel, caricaturist and editor of the newspaper Don Quichotte, is the artistic brain of the project. With methods of informal learning he conducts drawing workshops with the participating youngsters.

    Global challenges require global goals!

    The exhibition also shows – the topic concerns people around the world. The chosen pictures deal with the 17 UN goals of sustainable development – among those are „Climate Action“, „Responsible Production and Consumption“ and „Peace, Justice and strong institutions“. The goals were adopted in 2016 under the header „Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

    27 caricatures will be shown at the Future-Room (Zukunftsraum, Rintheimer Straße 46) from October 30th until December 11th 2018. The exhibition can be visited during regular opening hours (Tuesday from 2pm to 6pm & Thursday 9am to 6pm) and additionally on the two Sundays, November 11th and 25th from 3pm to 6 pm. October 30th at 3pm we open the exhibition with a vernissage.

    Come by and get an idea of the situation on our planet!

    Here you can find some additional information about the youth project “Planet calling SOS” (Link:

  2. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part III Social Affairs & Spaces

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    It has almost been three years since the real world lab project Urban Transition Lab 131 was launched under the umbrella of the framework project District Future – Urban Lab. Under the promotional initiative BaWÜ-Labs of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and Culture and with the aim to prove new models for the cooperation between science and society, the Urban Transition Lab 131 started its journey towards a (more) sustainable urban development. In this blog series we are taking a look back at the last three years of the Urban Transition Lab 131.

    An article by Vanessa Kügler & Helena Trenks. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    In the previous articles we already presented the topics “Sustainable Consumption” and “Mobility”. The third part of our blog series continues with the activities which were developed during the last years in the Oststadt under the umbrella term “Social Affairs & Spaces”. Starting as two individual projects (“Spaces” and “Social Affairs”), very soon the many links between the two topics became clear. That is why they were merged into one Urban Transition Lab 131-project.

    Open spaces can have a significant impact on the interconnection with the quarter by fostering networks, creating places and occasions for community and communication and bringing people of all generations that are living in the neighbourhood together. Such a space is enormously important, especially for groups that strongly depend on the neighbourhood environment (e.g. elderly people, families). As areas for sports, playing, encounter and movement, they play an important role for health promotion. Especially in times of an accelerated society, resting areas are an important opposite pole to the constant mobility in our daily lives. Here, we can learn to leave the rush behind, come to rest and to relax. It follows, therefore, that spaces influence the social interaction, and vice versa.

    In this sense, the overarching goal of “Social Affairs & Spaces” was to find publicly available spaces in the Oststadt and to investigate their importance and potential for encounter and movement in the quarter.

    Oststadt as social and free space

    Again, the results of the citizens’ forum were the starting point of this project of the Urban Transition Lab 131.Taking into consideration that the density and the size of our cities are constantly increasing, and the fact that our population is becoming older and more colourful, we asked the citizens:

    What will be the importance of social networks in the future? What contribution can be made by the neighbourhood to increase the quality of life in the quarter? What is the role of the public spaces? In times of growing cities, how can we maintain the green qualities of the quarter?

    Tranquillity, movement, health and social interaction are aspects that were emphasized as important qualities (of life) of open spaces in the neighbourhood. These topics were then taken up and deepened by the project group of the Urban Transition Lab 131. As a first step, the existing open spaces were examined during a space analysis:

    • What kind of open spaces exist?
    • How do the citizens experience, use and evaluate them?
    • What kind of potentials do open spaces offer for utilisations in the future (especially with respect to tranquillity, movement and encounters)?

    Monitoring, walks, mapping, interviews with the residents and expert discussions helped obtaining an (atmospheric) picture of the current situation. In addition, an “emotional city map” was created. Important spots that crystallized in negative and positive ways were Gottesauer Platz, Durlacher Tor/ Bernhardusplatz; Otto-Dullenkopf Park and the axis Ludwig-Wilhelm Straße /Gerwigstraße – Georg-Friedrich Straße. Proceeding from these results, three main topics have arisen.

    (More) space for encounter – exercise – easing

    Make three out of one: The subprojects

    A “tool box” was developed from all the results of the open space analysis and the core points of the BürgerProgramm (citizens program). Three subprojects were formed which were managed by subgroups from different chairs of the KIT. Besides the scientists of the KIT and the team of the Urban Transition Lab, students, representatives of the city administration, citizens and sports clubs in the Oststadt were involved.

    Rethinking existing spaces: The subproject “Linear Square”

    The subproject Linear Square that belongs to the Faculty for Architecture focussed on the quality of public spaces (paths, streets, squares). The project’s aim was to emerge a very special concept from the existing road network: a linear square! Meaning: an open space for exercise and encounter that connects the neighbourhood and can be used by the Oststadt-citizens in an active, cross-generational and sustainable way. In a manner of speaking a “common land” in the city that makes health and well-being, playful activities and learning possible.

    A mobility plan for the Oststadt and street-profiles were created to record the multitude of daily movements and being able talking about them. Through conversations with the citizens of the Oststadt, it was possible to create individual movement profiles of users. Furthermore, the experimental seminar “Wege/Gehen” (paths/walking) was organised at the Faculty for Architecture. In this seminar themed walks through the Oststadt were developed – e.g. “Walking by night” or “Movement for the young and the old”.

    Shaping open spaces: The subproject “Mapping Space”

    Design and perception of public spaces were the contents of the subproject Mapping Space (as well Faculty for Architecture) that was realised from 2016 to 2017 by students of architecture. With the aim of uncovering hidden potential of streets, paths, squares, green spaces or courtyards and presenting public spaces in a new way, students developed scouting games (geocaching) in the Oststadt as well as design ideas for landscaping of the Bernhardusplatz or the axis from Gottesauer Platz to Karl-Wilhelm-Straße and dealt with the Oststadt in terms of theory. The courses took place altering between the Future Space and the faculty. Some of the presentations were open for the public. The students also took part at the Oststadt Picnic and discussed their ideas with the other participants. Thereby, the subproject connected two learning spaces: university- the learning space for the prospective architects – and the real world lab – learning space for the urban community. You can download the reader with the results of the different exercises (in German) here. If you want to have it in a high resolution, please contact us. A printed version of the reader can be found in the Future Space.

    Together on the move: The subproject “Netzwerk Bewegung” (“Network Movement”)

    The Network Movement of the Oststadt was a subproject of the Institute for Sports and Sports Science: Its aim was to scrutinize the movement offerings, spaces for movement and relationship structures of the involved stakeholders that are working in the field of movement. Free and daily forms of movement and playing were just as important as organised, traditional sports activities offered by sports clubs.

    • Which sports and movement facilities are offered in the Oststadt?
    • Who is using these moving spaces and for what?
    • How is the usage of these spaces organised?
    • Which relationships exist between the users (e.g. exchange of information, joint organisation, rental of sports equipment or the like)?

    The open spaces were also examined regarding the aspect “everyday movement” and furthermore the walkability and bikeability of the district were brought up for discussion. In terms of walkability, the citizens themselves have the chance to become active. By using the Walkability check list, they can highlight areas of the Oststadt with potentials for improvement.

    Mixture is the key! Join us!

    One thing is clear: The Urban Transition Lab 131 project Social Affairs & Spaces stands out due to its mixture of methods and participants. City council, scientists, citizens and students from various fields and disciplines and with different background are working hand in hand benefitting from each other’s theoretical and practical knowledge. This is exactly what defines real world labs!

    Smaller events in the quarter that should focus attention on public spaces were also a part of the project. One of these events was the “Freiluftwohnzimmer” (“outdoor living room”), that took place in 2014 and 2016. District Future initiated this event at took part at it. True to the motto “Take it easy!”, urbanites had the chance to reclaim open spaces and at the same time, sitting together with their neighbours over coffee and cake.

    For the future, we want to keep on working on the topics community and (open) spaces in the Oststadt. How we can do this is a question that can only be answered by you and your ideas! Although most of the activities of the project Social Affairs & Spaces have already ended, we are still interested in keeping up the work!

    Do you have a wish or an idea on how we can make the Oststadt an even better social space? We are always looking for creative minds that want to become active! Just contact us (Helena Trenks is your contact partner: ) or visit us during the opening hours in the Future Space.

  3. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part II Mobility

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    We continue our blog series about the Urban Transition Lab 131. Since 2015 when the project was launched, scientists and citizens have the possibility to work together in order to develop and test measures for a (more) sustainable urban development. In the previous article we talked about the activities of the project Sustainable Consumption. This second part of the series continues with an exciting and much discussed topic of sustainability research: mobility!

    An article by Vanessa Kügler & Sarah Meyer-Soylu. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    Part II: Being mobile and human while moving around the Oststadt

    Mobility is getting more and more important in our lifestyle. Thanks to smartphone and internet flat rate we can be contacted anytime and anywhere. For sure! We jump in the car or on the train and quickly arrive at our destination. It’s a matter of course, isn’t it? We are always on the move and always mobile – no matter if we want it or not. Our little digital helpers are an integral part of our daily routine. Man is a creature of habits – or rather a creature of laziness?

    And also on our everyday stroll through the city we still tend to our routine and get annoyed about being stuck in the traffic instead of thinking about alternative means of transportation or (more) sustainable means of travel. Wouldn’t it be high time for us to be aware of our mobility behaviour and the consequences for our health and the environment? This question is related to the crucial questions of the project “Mobilitätsaspekte” (mobility aspects) within the Urban Transition Lab 131: How can I move around the city and cause as little harm to the environment as possible? How can we make mobility socially fair and human?

    Being individually mobile

    There are countless aspects that can be grouped under the keyword mobility. But where to start?

    “Mobility in the city is too often harmful to the environment and nerve-racking. We think about a mobility concept which relies on bicycles, smart traffic management systems, and collective means of transport.”

    (Goal of the key topic Mobile city)

    The focus of the activities in the project “Mobility aspects” was on the area everyday mobility with its three key action points:

    • Sustainable organisation of daily transporting
    • Integration of bicycles and especially cargo bikes in our daily mobile routines
    • Research of central traffic junctions (less traffic, more quality of stay!)

    How we organise our trips and which means of transport we use is not only a product of our habits, it of course depends heavily on individual factors: e.g. physical fitness, age or the demand of transporting things like for example a pram. Additionally to these factors, our choice of the means of transportation is influenced by external factors like for example condition and routing of existing bikeways or road closures in connection with provided information about the possibilities of reaching the destination.

    Organising the mobile daily life: Welcome to the travel agency for your everyday life!

    How is it possible to satisfy various mobility needs of different user groups and coordinate them in a sustainable way?

    To create a point of contact for the citizens of the Oststadt where they also can question or improve their mobility behaviour, the Urban Transition Lab 131 cooperated with the Institute for Transport (IfV). Together with this institution, that belongs to the KIT, the so-called travel agency for everyday life was established. Since the beginning of 2016, the citizens had the possibility to use the regular and free mobility consultancy, where they could get information on local mobility services and apps. This consultation should help finding more efficient and sustainable ways of travelling that nevertheless meet the individual requirements. The mobility consultancy was established in reaction to a suggestion that was made at the citizen’s forum and which was realized later than expected. Everyone involved had a lot of staying power. When the time of the opening had come at last, we unfortunately had to realize that the offer wasn’t accepted as well as we hoped. We use this experience to suit our coming project more to the citizens and their needs!

    In order to make the citizens more familiar with the topic mobility and alternative means of transportation, the exposition “Von hier nach da” (from here to there) by the youth section of the environmental association BUND came to the Future Space. This touring exhibition gave the Oststadt some inspiring ideas and visions about a new mobility culture. Movie nights and presentations created a relaxing atmosphere for exchanging ideas and experiences.

    You don’t always need four wheels: Come on and hop on your bike!

    Car traffic – rolling or parking – dominates the quarter. This remark by the citizens was the decisive factor for an emphasis on the topic bike. In addition to that came our motivation to improve the situation for the bicycle traffic in the Oststadt and to motivate people to use their bikes more often.

    You don’t always need a car to transport bigger items – that’s a fact we have long been convinced of and which is why the topic carrier bicycle has been a part of our project since the beginning. Our attempts to receive funding for this topic haven’t been successful. All the more, we are pleased that people are sharing the idea throughout Karlsruhe and even established a rental system for carrier bikes: Lastenkarle. Only a stone’s throw away from the Future Space, you can find a carrier bike that can be rented by anybody!

    The Urban Transition Lab 131 as well owns a carrier bike which we take with us to different events to transport heavy and bulky equipment from A to B without producing any emissions!

    By taking part at the PARK(ing) Day Karlsruhe we want to draw attention to the critical relationship between car traffic and townscape- especially the enormous amount of space that is used for car parking and the question: what if we these parking areas were used in other ways?

    Matching with our focus on bicycles, a student thesis on the topic daily bicycle use in the Oststadt – especially bicycle parking – was written. With the help of surveys – online and face-to-face – more than 100 citizens of the Oststadt were asked about their personal bicycle use. The questionnaire reviewed, among other things:

    • How often the citizens are using their bicycles and what may be the reason for them to not using it (especially the car drivers)
    • What kind of measures would be needed to make them use the bicycle more often in the future
    • Where and how the citizens of the Oststadt park their bikes and what kind of problems this way of parking can cause.

    You want to read more about it? No problem! You find the link to the thesis (PDF) here and at the end of the article.

    In connection with the thesis and to further sensitize for the topic bicycling and bike parking in the city, a public talk was held at the District Future regular’s table in the Oststadt. Another part of the evening was a discussion about the results of the survey and the derived recommendations for action.

    Mobility as a model

    How does the closing of a street or the usage of a shared space effect an urban quarter? To be able to answer such questions, the Urban Transition Lab 131-Team used an already existing traffic model of the Oststadt to make interactions of the traffic streams visible and comprehensible and to derive scenarios.

    Particular attention was paid to the central traffic hub at Gottesauer Platz. In order to improve the quality of stay and to meet the citizen’s wishes regarding area design and the parking situation, redesign measures for this place were developed. In another master thesis, concrete upgrading plans for the Gottesauer Platz were worked out. Are you curious? You find the link to the thesis here and at the end of the article.

    By simulating the traffic, it was possible to create an up-to-date picture of the congestion. However, one challenge became increasingly clear to the scientists: the many construction sites that are present throughout Karlsruhe. With the construction of the new underground line and the related line blockades and diversions, it is effectively impossible calculating the actual traffic in the area after the completion of the construction work. This means the absence of reliable data that makes it difficult to assess interactions and prevents the enforcement of precise measures.

    What comes next?

    How do we proceed with the former results? At the public discussion and presentation on 27 June 2016 in the Future Space, we presented our results and received a lot of suggestions for further work. In 2018, the topic mobility will stay on our agenda! Depending on the funding, we will even give stronger emphasis on mobility and work on it together with the topics nutrition, consumption and climate protection.

    We are looking for you and your ideas! You want to share your thoughts and actions on sustainability? We are happy to help implementing your project ideas. Just contact us (Sarah Meyer-Soylu is your contact partner: or visit us during the opening hours in the Future Space.

    Curious? You can read on here (in German):

  4. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part I Consumption

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    It has almost been three years since the real world lab project Urban Transition Lab 131 was launched under the umbrella of the framework project District Future – Urban Lab. Under the promotional initiative BaWÜ-Labs of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Science, Research and Culture and with the aim to prove new models for the cooperation between science and society, the Urban Translation Lab 131 started its journey towards a (more) sustainable urban development.

    An article by Vanessa Kügler. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    The next four articles on our Blog will focus on the experiences of the Urban Transition Lab 131- topics:

    Sustainable consumption – Mobility – Social Affairs and Space – Energy

    These topics are based on the wishes of the citizens who took part at the citizens’ forum “Sustainable Oststadt – Future made by citizens” of the District Future and at the same time form the central elements of the research that is done by the Urban Transition Lab 131. Thereby the real world lab is inseparably interwoven with the ones who are directly affected: the citizens.


    Part I: Consuming in a sustainable matter is possible – even in the city. The Oststadt shows how it works!

    Our blog series starts with the topic “Sustainable Consumption”. Relating to it, what has happened in the Oststadt? What are (more) sustainable forms of consumption and how can these be integrated in the urban quarter and the everyday life of the citizens?

    Consumption has an effect – on the world we are part of, the world that surrounds us, the world to come, and ourselves. We want to contribute to a conscious, sustainable, and regional consumption and revive cultural skills like barter and repair.”

    (Goal of the key topic Sustainable Consumption)

    Consumption is a topic that has accompanied the District Future for a while, even before the Urban Transition Lab 131 was about to start. The initiation of the Repair Café in 2013 was the start of activities that questioned the throwaway culture and presented a counter model. In the meantime, the RepairCafé Karlsruhe has become an independent association. We are very happy about this development and proud about our role as a driving force!

    Furthermore, evening events were organized and gave the opportunity to discuss about special topics like for example local food in the city.

    These consumption-critical events were integrated in the Urban Transition Lab 131-project “Sustainable Consumption”. Since 2016 further practical components were added – with the aim to jointly test alternative forms of consumption in the Oststadt.


    KonsumCafé: where acting differently is fun – the SustainabilityExperiments are also taking part

    To provide a framework for those activities of the Urban Transition Lab that concentrate on sustainable consumption, we initiated the format “KonsumCafé” (Consumption Café). Regular events of this format are the swap party for clothes (“Kleidertauschparty”) and the “Pflanzentauschbörse” where people have the opportunity to swap plants and seeds. These events are already fixed components of the life in the quarter. There are also single activities like lectures and workshops (e.g. Ökodorf meets District Future or the District Future- regulars’ table with the topic Consumption at Christmas) have become established features. With these events we want to show that acting and consuming sustainably is fun and gives motivation.

    During the events of the KonsumCafé the visitors also get background information on textile industry, conditions of production in the clothing industry or seed sovereignty. KonsumCafé-events give the opportunity to share ideas about how everyone can change something.

    Two “SustainabilityExperiments” are directly or indirectly dealing with the topic consumption: The secondhand-label “Second Future” and the urban gardening-experiment “Beete und Bienen” (Beds and Bees). A nice effect: Events of the KonsumCafé and the SustainabilityExperiments got together to achieve common goals. The best example therefor is the cooperation between the swap party for clothes and “Second Future” – a wonderful addition, as we think!

    The different event- and participation-formats are therefore essential components and platforms for knowledge exchange and new forms of collaboration.

    Knowledge is power- and helps along!

    The join-in offers are only one part of the Urban Transition Lab 131- activities: another important element is communication and information about the project’s main topics. The medium we use for this is our blog, on which we regularly write about topics concerning consumption and alternatives. Our website is an important tool to provide knowledge about sustainable consumption patterns in the quarter and beyond. We have already published several articles about these topics.

    These are among other things:

    Are you curious? Click here to get to the overview of the published articles (in German).

    A real world lab – why is that?

    Within the Urban Transition Lab 131 various approaches and ideas for a (more) sustainable way of life in the city emerged. Some have been implemented and are now partly carried out by the citizens themselves.

    For the experiments, the topic sustainable consumption is very tangible, because it appears and confronts us in our everyday life. It is especially suitable for taking a closer look, questioning structures and habits and to try out new things.

    An example for a sustainable approach that is trendy right now is “sharing and swapping instead of possessing and throwing away”. A return to neighbourly self-help and learning from each other are an attractive counter model to the increasing anonymity in the city. Increasing awareness for sustainable consumption pattern becomes apparent. This is reflected, for example, in the increasing number of alternative living and supply concepts which are based on sharing-approaches.

    The real world lab has become established as space for experience and exchange. Especially the “Zukunftsraum” (Future Space) serves as a place where these topics are collectively discussed and where corresponding action alternatives get discovered. Such an exchange helps to develop a stronger awareness about one’s own consumer behaviour and related consumption patterns that were “learnt” from society. An incentive to start thinking outside the box and to do this is an exploratory way, without a lot of planning and with an eye to the quarter and the people living in it.

    The project duration of the Urban Transition Lab 131 ended with the end of 2017, but we already know: The Future Space and District Future continue to exist!

    So we are open for new ideas about the topic consumption and also in 2018 we are searching for people who want to get active. The KonsumCafé will still be one main emphasis of our work and it will start concentrating on the topic climate protection.

    If you have any questions or ideas for your own project on the topic sustainable consumption, visit us at the Future Space or send us a message to:

  5. We and our things. From consumers to users of our products?

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    Each person living in Europe owns an average of 10 000 items – a figure set to increase. Antje Di Foglio of the District Future team is product designer and has been exploring the aging of things for years. She has a sustainable vision: Let us turn back into users of our products.

    During his first week in kindergarten without his mom, little Jonas takes his cuddly toy with him. Grandpa Karl flatly refuses to trash the old, tatty carpet in the hallway. The things and we – there is definitely something between us, some sort of relationship, a connection, some flying sparks.

    If we and our things have a common history: The owner of this polar bear is 25 years old. Picture: Antje Di Foglio.

    In fact the things that surround us are more than mere objects of utility. The wardrobe in the bedroom, my jeans, the walls in my parents’ house, the little wall in the garden: Our things are points of identity and key elements in our world and help us to position ourselves. Who am I and where am I at the moment? We can express ourselves with their help and have something to hold on to. But what do we do if the number of things in our life is ever increasing? And we replace, substitute, and dump them more and more rapidly to buy new ones? What does this do to us and our world?

    In fact the things that surround us are more than mere objects of utility. The wardrobe in the bedroom, my jeans, the walls in my parents’ house, the little wall in the garden: Our things are points of identity and key elements in our world and help us to position ourselves. Who am I and where am I at the moment? We can express ourselves with their help and have something to hold on to. But what do we do if the number of things in our life is ever increasing? And we replace, substitute, and dump them more and more rapidly to buy new ones? What does this do to us and our world?

    Things are manufactured to be consumed

    “Today, things are manufactured to be consumed”, states Antje, who studied at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. While traditional materials like wood, metal, china, leather, and linen age with dignity and can outlive generations, most of the materials used today would only become shabby and damaged over the years. Shirts made of polyacrylics, sideboards made of pressboard, the sofa made of faux leather: “These materials do not age. They fall apart.”

    This is, according to Antje, not only due to an economic system which relies on “planned obsolescence”, i.e. the built-in defects of products. It is also a Western concept of esthetics which we have all taken in by now. “This is the Hellenistic view of the world in whose tradition we are rooted and are familiar with”, she explains. “Everything is about perfection and youth! Today, products should be beautiful, shiny, immaculate. It is about personal optimization by ‘doing more’ and ‘buying more’.” Beautiful means new. And what is not new can go.

    Wabi-sabi instead of everything new

    In Japan, Antje discovered an alternative way of seeing things, a theory of esthetics, a philosophy: It is called “wabi-sabi” and includes the aging, the imperfect, incomplete and ephemeral, discovers the beauty within. A wooden flooring with deep scratches due to decades of use by a family. A jacket which was elaborately, but still obviously mended. A broken china plate, which was put together using liquid gold.

    Impermanence in gold: the Japanese technique of Kintsugi. Picture: Wikipedia

    “Wabi-sabi is about honesty and authenticity”, says Antje. Things are allowed to tell their story. They can show that they are in use, being needed, and live together with their people.

    “The poor elves of Yiwu”

    Fact is: During the last century we have lost our connection to things by distinguishing between manufacture and consumption of products, between craftspeople, workers, and buyers. A global phenomenon, which turned low-wage countries into the Western world’s textile factory and workbench. One example are the Christmas villages in the Chinese city of Yiwu which gained a weird sort of fame. Two-thirds of all Christmas decorations are manufactured there. Without even knowing what they actually produce, the migrant workers there work by the piece for a pittance; the German newspaper FAZ once called them the “poor elves of Yiwu”. And published pictures of the Chinese photographer Chen Ronghui who shot a father and his son at work – standing in red paint and chemicals, their heads only poorly protected by Santa hats.

    Almost all Santa hats like this one are produced in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

    Is Yiwu everywhere? Probably it can be seen as a symbol for our unrelatedness to our things. And this venomed, Far Eastern Christmas idyll quite plainly shows the impacts of this disconnection: People and the environment are being exploited for products which did not come to stay. Year after year they end up on the scrapheap. Year after year we buy them anew.

    From consumers to users?

    But: What can the consumers do? And which potential for change is implied in the self-understanding of the manufacturers? Anyhow, for Antje both sides are responsible – and she believes that change is possible. “We, the designers, act in a complex and ramified area of conflict and bear a huge social and moral responsibility from which we should not escape, are not allowed to escape. We designers work for the people and on relationships, our esthetic order of things keeps them grounded in a chaotic world. Products have to become more sustainable, more ecological, and more humane. There must not be design just for the sake of design.” What would happen if we would treat the things with respect again, honor and respect the work and care of the manufacturers? If we surround ourselves with things that are allowed to age and live with us – wouldn’t we realize that we do not need so many new things?

    “‘Which are the things I like to live with? Which are the things I am related with?’ we could ask ourselves”, says Antje. “If we shop like this, we are also more likely to consume things which are more appreciated and loved and with which we want to live for a long time.” More and more consumers are, according to Antje, looking for the real, the true, for authenticity and meaning. “We are running short of resources, in a few decades the oilfields will be drained. A new understanding of the consumer will emerge. Maybe we could put it like this: We have to move on from consumers to users of our things.”“

    Antje Di Foglio studied product design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Karlsruhe. Her thesis “Spuren der Zeit” (The marks of time) dealt with the relationships and emotions into which people enter with their products – and their meaning for culture and society. A bound copy of her work is on display in the Future Space – come and have a look!
    As a member of District Future, Antje wants to show the people and citizens how small steps can actively make a change for ourselves and others and change our consumer behavior. Because we are sure: Buying has an effect – on the world we are part of, the world that surrounds us, the world to come, and ourselves. In the new year, we want to contribute to a conscious, sustainable, and more regional consumption and revive cultural skills like barter and repair. Together with you we would like to think about the way sustainable consumption could look like in Karlsruhe’s Oststadt. We will keep you informed on our website, Facebook & Twitter!



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Imprint and Privacy Policy

The project "District Future" is a project of Karlsruhe Institute for Technology. Service provider according to § 5 of the German Telemedia Act Karlsruhe Institute for Technology Kaiserstraße 12 76131 Karlsruhe Germany Tel.: +49 721 608-0 Fax: +49 721 608-44290 E-Mail: Legal Form: Corporation governed by public law Authorized Representatives: Prof. Dr. Holger Hanselka (President of KIT) Turnover Tax Identification Number: DE266749428 Responsible for the content according to § 55 of the German Interstate Broadcasting Agreement: Dr. Oliver Parodi Karlsruhe Institute for Technology Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis Karlstraße 11 76133 Karlsruhe E-mail: Editorial responsibility Alexandra Quint Karlsruhe Institute for Technology Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis Karlstraße 11 76133 Karlsruhe E-mail: Copyright For the internet pages of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, the copyright and all other rights lie with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Kaiserstraße 12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany. This also applies to the website of the project District Future. Further dissemination, also in parts, for pedagogic, scientific or private purposes is allowed, provided that the source is indicated (unless otherwise expressly stated on the respective page). Use for commercial purposes shall require the approval by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Contact the Public Relations and Marketing Department. Disclaimer for contents of site These internet pages serve for information only. Their contents were compiled with due diligence. However, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology shall not assume any liability, neither expressly nor implied, for the type, correctness, completeness and topicality of the material offered and shall not be liable (including liability for indirect loss or loss of profit) for the material or use of this material. In case contents of websites of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology violate valid legal regulations, we kindly ask you to inform us immediately. We will then remove the site or the respective contents immediately. Image rights The service provider has to its best knowledge applied for all rights of use for the photographs, graphics, sound documents and video sequences displayed on this site. Any person who feels his or her rights have been violated is kindly asked to contact the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in order to resolve the matter. Disclaimer for External Websites The websites of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology contain links to information offered by servers which are not subject to the control and responsibility of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology shall not assume any responsibility or guarantee for this information and shall not approve of or support such information in terms of contents. Privacy Policy Information on the Collection of Personal Data The operators of these websites take the protection of your personal data very seriously. Personal data are all data that can be related to you personally, such as name, address, email addresses, and user behavior (information referring to an identifiable natural person (Art. 4, No. 1 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR))). Controller according to Art. 4, par. 7 GDPR is the President of KIT, Professor Dr.-Ing. Holger Hanselka, Kaiserstrasse 12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany, (see Legals). Our Data Protection Commissioner can be contacted at or by ordinary mail with “Die Datenschutzbeauftragte” (the data protection commissioner) being indicated on the envelope. When you contact us by electronic mail or via a contact form, the data given by you (your email address and, if applicable, your name and your phone number) will be stored by us to answer your questions. The data arising in this connection will be erased as soon as storage will no longer be required or processing will be restricted, if legal obligations to retain the data exist. We would like you to note that internet-based data transmission (e.g. when communicating by electronic mail) may have security gaps. Absolute protection of data against access by third parties may not be guaranteed. Collection of Personal Data When using the website for information purposes only, we will only collect the personal data that are transmitted by your browser to our server according to the settings made by you (server log files). For viewing our website, we collect the data required for this purpose and needed for ensuring stability and security according to Art. 6, par. 1, clause 1, (f) GDPR: Anonymized IP address, Date and time of access, Time zone difference to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), Content of the access (concrete site), Status of access/HTTP status code, Data volume transmitted, Website from which an accessing system reaches our website, Browser These data cannot be referred to certain persons. These data will not be combined with other data sources. We reserve the right to check these data later on, if concrete indications of unlawful use become known to us. SSL Encryption For reasons of security and for the protection of the transmission of confidential contents, such as inquiries sent to us as website operator, this website uses SSL encryption. In case of an encrypted connection, the address line of the browser changes from http:// to https:// and the lock symbol is indicated in your browser line. When SSL encryption is activated, third parties cannot read the data you transmit to us as a rule. Your Rights As far as your personal data stored by us are concerned, you have the following rights: Right of access, Right to rectification or erasure, Right to restriction of processing, Right to object to data processing, Right to data portability. In addition, you have the right to complain about the processing of your personal data by us with a supervisory authority. In the case of manifestly unfounded or excessive requests, we can charge a reasonable fee. Otherwise, information will be provided free of charge (Article 12, par. 5 GDPR). In the case of reasonable doubts concerning the identity of the natural person asserting the above rights, we may request the provision of additional information necessary to confirm the identity of the data subject (Article 12, par. 6 GDPR). Cookies In addition to the data mentioned above, cookies are stored on your personal computer when using our website. Cookies are small text files stored in your computer system by the browser used by you, through which we (the server of our website) obtain certain information. Cookies cannot execute any programs or transmit viruses to your computer. They serve to make internet offers more user-friendly, more effective, and quicker. It is distinguished between session cookies (transient cookies) and permanent (persistent) cookies. Transient cookies are deleted automatically when you close the browser. They include in particular the session cookies. These store a so-called session ID, through which queries of your browser can be allocated to the joint session. They allow us to identify your computer when you return to our website. Session cookies are deleted when you log out or close the browser. We use session cookies exclusively. We do not use any persistent cookies or flash cookies. You can set your browser such that you will be informed about the setting of cookies and you can permit cookies in individual cases only, exclude the acceptance of cookies in certain cases or in general, and activate automatic deletion of cookies when closing your browser. When deactivating cookies, functionality of this website may be limited. Newsletter and MailChimp If you would like to subscribe to the newsletter offered on this website, we require an e-mail address from you as well as information that allows us to verify that you are the owner of the email address provided and that you agree to receive the newsletter. The data entered in the newsletter registration form will be processed exclusively on the basis of your consent (Art. 6 para. 1 lit. a DSGVO). You can revoke your consent to the storage of the data, the e-mail address and its use for sending the newsletter at any time, for example via the "unsubscribe" link in the newsletter. The legality of the data processing processes already carried out remains unaffected by the revocation. We use the online service MailChimp for sign up and email delivery. Mailchimp is offered by the company Rocket Science Group, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Suite 5000, Atlanta, GA 30308, USA. The Rocket Science Group LLC d/b/a MailChimp is certified by the Privacy Shield Framework and thereby guarantees to adhere to the European data protection level ( If you sign up for a newsletter, your name and email address are saved by MailChimp and used to send the newsletter to the email address you provided. In addition, MailChimp also collects the following information: if and when you open a newsletter, if you click the links in a newsletter, your IP address, the browser or email program you are using, and other details of this sort. MailChimp uses single-pixel GIFs (also known as web beacons) in newsletter emails to collect this information. We can view this information in the online service's interface. The legal basis for the use of your data is your click on the confirmation link for the newsletter you signed up for. You can cancel the newsletter at any time and in this way take back the use of your data. MailChimp's privacy policy can be found at Comments For the comments function on this website, apart from your comment, information on the time of the creation of your comment, your email address and the username you choose will be stored. User name, date and comment are visible on the website. The comments and the connected data (e.g. IP address) will be stored and stay on our website until the commented content has been deleted completely or if the comments have to be deleted for legal reasons (e.g. insulting comments). The storage of comments is processed exclusively on the basis of your consent (Art. 6 Paragraph 1 GDPR). The legality of the data processing processes carried out up to the revocation remains unaffected by the revocation. Social media plugins using the '2Click' solution On our website, so-called 'social plugins' ('plugins') from the social media networks Facebook and Google+ and the microblogging service Twitter are used. The companies Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Twitter Inc. provide these services (‘providers’). Facebook is operated by Facebook Inc. (1601 S. California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA),hereinafter 'Facebook'. An overview of the plugins from Facebook and what they look like can be found here: Google+ is operated by Google Inc. (1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA),hereinafter 'Google'. An overview of the plugins from Google and what they look like can be found here: Twitter is operated by Twitter Inc. (1355 Market St, Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103),hereinafter 'Twitter'. An overview of the Twitter buttons and what they look like can be found here: To increase the protection of your data during your visit to our website, the plugins are integrated into the site by means of a so-called '2Click' solution. This integration ensures that no connection is established at first with the servers of Facebook, Google and Twitter when you open a page on our website that contains such plugins. Only when you activate the plugins and grant your consent to transfer data, your browser will establish a direct connection with the Facebook, Google and Twitter servers. The content of each plugin is then transferred directly to your browser and integrated into the page. By integrating plugins, the providers receive the information that your browser has opened the specific page on our website, even if you do not have an account of the provider or are logged out of your account at that time. This information (including your IP address) is transferred by your browser to a Twitter server in the USA and stored there. If you are logged in into one of the social networks, the provider can connect the visit of our website to your facebook or Google+ account directly. Whenever you use the plugins (for example, by clicking the 'Like' button, the '+1' button or the 'tweet' button), the information in question is also transferred directly to a Twitter server and stored there. Furthermore, the information is published on the social network or Twitter and visible to your contacts there. The purpose and scope of the data collection and further processing and use of the data by the providers, as well as your rights and options for privacy protection settings can be found in their privacy policies. Privacy Policy of Facebook: Privacy Policy of Google: Privacy Policy of Twitter: Vimeo Our website uses plugins operated by Vimeo. The owner of the site is Vimeo Inc., 555 West 18th Street, New York, New York 10011, USA. When you visit one of our webpages that is fitted with a Vimeo plugin, a connection will be established to Vimeo’s server. The Vimeo server will then be informed about which of our webpages you have visited. Moreover, Vimeo will be informed about your IP-address. This also happens if you are logged out of your Vimeo account at the time or if you do not have a Vimeo account. If you are logged into your Vimeo account, you enable Vimeo to match your activities with your personal profile. You can prevent this by logging out of your account. We use Vimeo in the interest of making our online offerings more appealing. This represents a legitimate interest as described in Art. 6 Paragraph 1 GDPR. More information on how Vimeo handles user data can be found in Vimeo’s privacy policy: Open Street Map We used maps of the service “OpenStreetMap” (, which are provided on the basis of the Open Data Commons Open Database Lizenz (ODbL) by the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF). Information on how Vimeo handles user data can be found in Vimeo’s privacy policy: Matomo (Piwik) We have a legitimate interest (i.e. an interest in the analysis and optimisation of our website within the meaning of Article 6 (1f) GDPR) in the use of Matomo (Piwik), software designed to statistically evaluate user access. Your IP address is shortened before it is saved. Matomo uses cookies that are saved on the users' computers and make it possible to analyse use of this online service by the users. Pseudonymous use profiles may be created for the users during this. The information generated by the cookie about your use of this online service is stored on our server and not forwarded to third parties. You can opt out of this data processing as follows: