Design Factory

Annual Review

2021 at the Design Factory Stuttgart.


Scarlett Spiegeler Castañeda

ARENA2036 e.V.

Scarlett Spiegeler Castañeda is an engineer and passionate design thinking expert. She leads the Design Factory and ensures that the mindset is also anchored in ARENA2036.

Annual Review

What a year! 2021 at the Design Factory Stuttgart 

From implementing a wide variety of creative formats and establishing our own physical space at ARENA2036 to becoming an official member of the Design Factory Global Network, 2021 was an exciting year for the Design Factory Stuttgart. We are excited to look back and to share many great developments, opportunities, and challenges with you that made our 2021 truly special.

Semester Courses – Beginning of the Year

At the beginning of the year, we found ourselves in the middle of the winter semester. For the Design Factory, this meant conducting an important pilot project: we held the first, digital semester course and were definitely able to make the most of it – six challenges from different ARENA2036-partners were taken on by the teams using the Design Thinking approach.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the semester course in the following summer semester was also a digital one. Additionally, we offered a Future Game 2050-workshop on site for each of the student groups, who also had a chance to get a glimpse at ARENA2036. We especially want to congratulate two teams whose concept prototypes made it into an invention disclosure from their industry partner.

A highlight of the digital semesters for us was the successful implementation of the prototyping mindset in remote working spaces. The digital semesters have shown that making an idea visible and thus transferring complex thoughts to team members and stakeholders also works from home and completely without high-tech. Prototypes were constructed using the most basic and everyday materials:

News from the Design Factory Team

There was joyful news for the DF team this spring: Scarlett, Design Thinking expert and Design Factory community coach, became a permanent member of ARENA2036 on April 1st. Since October, David Franjičević complements the Design Factory core team as a working student and has been supporting them actively.

As of August 2021, the Design Factory was also firmly anchored spatially in the ARENA2036: In the yellow container on the shopfloor of ARENA2036, the Design Factory got its own home, where creative work is done together.

Semester Courses – Winter Semester

Design Thinking is an iterative process – this also applies to the third generation of the Design Factory semester course, which takes place as a hybrid format and is making the most of and is constantly optimizing the combination of digital methods and collaborative on-site work. We are very happy to finally have the opportunity to enable on site teamwork as well and to get everything out of the design thinking process. Three challenges from different ARENA2036-partners were assigned to be worked on in this new format, all focusing on sustainability in its broader sense of economic, social, and ecological opportunities and challenges.

We started each session with a joint kick-off on the ARENA2036 shopfloor, in front of the Design Factory container. Four student teams came together to work on the industry challenges. In the first touchpoints, hybrid formats allowed for many interviews to be conducted and perspectives on the issues to be explored. In addition, the teams were able to build haptic prototypes together for the first time and test them with their industry partners in December. The feedback received is now being incorporated into the prototypes in an iteration loop typical of design thinking and will be pitched at the gala event in January.

Design Thinking Beginner Training – First Format

In September, the new format of the Design Thinking beginner training started. Employees of the University of Stuttgart on the one hand and of partner companies of ARENA2036 on the other hand participated. For prototype testing on site and as interview partners, other ARENA2036 employees also took part.

Anniversary of Design Factory Stuttgart & Inclusion in Global Network

There were two major milestones this year: In August 2021, the Design Factory celebrated its first anniversary. In addition, the Design Factory Stuttgart was accepted into the Design Factory Global Network (DFGN), a network for design factories worldwide, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. We would like to congratulate the DFGN on their anniversary and are already very much looking forward to the intensive exchange with our colleagues from the other Design Factories, as we share the common mission: "create change in the world of learning and research through passion-based culture and effective problem solving."

Outlook for 2022

The year 2022 will also be a year full of innovations and exciting news, as two major projects of the Design Factory will start in spring: the DF Task Forces and Greenesto.

  • Making Stuttgart greener through mobile workshop formats in the Stuttgart city area, which we will carry out with an all-electric van.  Technological innovation and governmental guidelines and frameworks are one step to combat climate change. To effectively enable change within society, it is necessary to create a broader awareness and sensitivity for it and change the mindsets and behaviours of the citizens as well. "GREENESTO - adVANce your Mindset" adresses this mindset change. It receives funding from the Stuttgart Climate Innovation Fund as the most innovative idea. Read more in the press release of the city of Stuttgart (German language only) and the Greenesto-homepage.
  • The Design Factory Task Force is an association of an industrial partner with students, who will solve a technical task as a team within a limited time period. They will be actively supported with methods and coaching from the Design Factory. It will start in January 2022. Stay updated on the Task Force-homepage.

We are excited to see what 2022 has in store for the Design Factory and would like to take this opportunity to thank all our colleagues, partners, students, and participants for their creative collaboration!

Stay healthy and have a Merry Christmas,

Your Design Factory Stuttgart Team

Logo of the project GREENESTO