0 In Lehre, Forschung & Transfer

In search of new thinkers: Leather Design Competition open until April 20th

Leather Design Competition Header with wallet

Creative minds can still participate in the international Leather Design Competition until April 20th. Whether individual or teamwork, the task is to design a leather product with the provided Leather Product Design Canvas and a special focus on sustainable product design. 

For participants whose designs are convincing at first glance, a mentoring program at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (h_da) will follow. Together with international partners from industry and research, the h_da helps the finalists to optimize their designs. In the process, they also learn basic principles about leather, sustainability and business development.

Why reinvent the wheel?

Leather, which we encounter in everyday products such as handbags, purses or wristwatches, has to fulfill many requirements. It should be robust, easy to care for, repairable and as inexpensive as possible. In the best case, it also ages attractively. To ensure these characteristics, it is treated with chemicals or less sustainable and poorly suited materials are used. The problematic thing about this is, that these chemicals would not actually be necessary to maintain these properties. But using them is the fastest and cheapest way to do so.

In many cases, global leather supply chains are complex and opaque, making it even harder to create more sustainable products. Often the design of the products is also unsustainable, which is why longevity ultimately suffers. Such leather products mostly end up in the trash because they are difficult to reuse, repair or recycle. This is despite the fact that leather can support aspects of sustainable development through product characteristics such as durability, reparability and aesthetic aging.

And this is how it works:

Any person interested in the design and development of leather products may participate. The level of qualification does not matter, whether professional designers or fresh design students. 

Participants will create a design concept based on the “Leather Product Design Canvas for Sustainable Development“. For this purpose, the poster template is filled out and sent to leather-competition@h-da.de together with the submission form.

Finalists for Phase 2 will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Consideration of the Leather Product Design Canvas
  • Systemic perspective on sustainable development
  • Overall aesthetic and conceptual quality of the design
  • Degree of innovation
  • Market opportunities
  • Feasibility

In phase 2, the finalists participate in the mentoring program. Here they develop their design concepts based on the “Design Guidelines for More Sustainable Products”, which they receive during the program.

Phase 3 then selects the winner of the Leather Design Competition, who receives the Sustainable Leather Product Award from Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and will be featured in several media outlets.

More information about the competition can be found here

Winning and advancing research

The competition is part of a research project on sustainable chemistry in global leather supply chains. Further information on the project can be found at: https://sne.h-da.de/leather-chemistry 

As a sub-project, it is funded by the BMBF and the state of Hessen as part of the transfer project “System Innovation for Sustainable Development (s:ne)“.

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