International Project Platform Offenbach (IPPO)

Design cannot avoid becoming involved

 Attempting to perform design work without trying to understand and operate within the relevant social framework is naïve, even detrimental. Prof. Petra Kellner and Prof. Georg-Christof Bertsch launched the IPPO at their symposium in Offenbach “Reflecting Waters” on July 4, 2007. The two professors’ interest in water as a design-related topic dates principally to the years 2007 through 2012. Mobility on a global scale was a parallel subject and was reflected in international projects, seminars, symposiums and workshops in locations such as in Helsinki, Rio de Janeiro, Delhi and Istanbul.

What is the background? What does IPPO want?

IPPO is a theme and people development-platform for transformational design. Topics are launched from here. Georg-Christof Bertsch's involvement in the founding of the Design Institute for Mobility and Logistics goes back, for example, to "Taxi as a sustainable group transport system", which he and Petra Kellner developed in Offenbach, Rio de Janeiro and Istanbul from 2008-2010. 

IPPO also contributed to the preparation of the EMBRACE OUR RIVERS conference in Chennai, India 2016 with the REFLECTING WATERS project – also because an international water conference was already held in Offenbach as part of IPPO. 

The project MyFutureCampus 2018 also goes back to considerations carried out within the framework of IPPO, just as the project and the conference NICHTWORT in 2017 go back to the "Along the Route" activities in connection with the "refugee winter" of 2015, in which Jens Balkenborg, Judith Block and Hosam Katan were decisive players. The KLIMAROUTE, which was developed from 2008-11, is also a direct spin-off from the IPPO context. 

The idea of IPPO is to train designers to become "leaders“ of transformational design within the framework of intercultural discussions, experiments and workshops, or to give them ideas on how to orient themselves in this direction. 

After all, how can transformation succeed if women designers do not take the lead in an international and intercultural context? For this reason, the IPPO events have been called "Leading across cultures - young intercultural leaders in design" for several years and are held entirely in English. In the summer semester of 2022, HfG alumna Madita Morgenstern Antao, who has been involved in the project for several years, will be joined by HfG alumnus and humanitarian designer Thomas Jäger and the student Morgana Hohenstein. 

The IPPO as a platform

The real platform is actually a network of several dozen design professionals scattered around the world from the field of tertiary education, design and theory, as well as from other disciplines. The IPPO was initially a private initiative started by the two professors. In 2014 it became an HfG institute. The objective is an open discussion on the contradictions inherent in design, what is possible and impossible with the subject and its complexity in the new millennium.

Actors, roles

For us, students can be teachers and professors pupils. We do not believe in safe options, we have seen too many ideologies rising and floundering, national boundaries disappearing and walls being put up. Making the constant changes in the world accessible through design and using design to help generate dignity and meaning in a democratic society is an important approach and aim.
For many years now we have been cooperating with other establishments, primarily with Escola de Desenho Industrial, Rio de Janeiro, Bezalel Acamdemy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Istanbul Teknik Üniversitesi, Istanbul, Free University of Bozen/Bolzano, TU Berlin and Hochschule Berlin Weißensee, in seminars, workshops and symposia.

A vision? Voilà, a vision

Our objective is to attempt, in a world that is daily becoming more tightly packed, to work in democratically created teams, together with other professors, students, alumni and doctoral students. In so doing, our aim is to establish long-term, stable personal relationships based on trust – something that is infinitely more valuable than institutional cooperation agreements.