About the year 2021

About the year 2021

The Swiss Design Awards / Swiss Art Awards 2021 exhibition in Basel welcomed 11'680 visitors. Despite the pandemic and the restrictions in this context, we came close to matching the visitor record of 2019 (12,000).

The Swiss Design Awards are a unique opportunity to delve into the multifaceted world of current Swiss design. For a one-week period, all the disciplines represented in the competition come together under one roof: graphic design, fashion and textile design, product and industrial design, photography, scenography and mediation. Presented are objects embodying the traditional dialogue between form and function, as well as interdisciplinary projects that tackle complex issues and processes at work in modern society with a broader conception of what constitutes design. Both approaches–and everything in between–make design a vibrant and relevant discipline for culture, the economy and society in the 21st century.

The Swiss Design Awards competition is based on a two-stage process. The Swiss Design Awards 2021 exhibition presented the 48 works nominated from among 247 entries. Shortly before the exhibition opened, the Federal Design Commission, assisted by four experts, selected 17 projects to each received prize money of 25,000 Swiss francs. When judging the works presented, particular attention is paid to their quality, impact, contemporary relevance and innovativeness.

The 17 Swiss Design Awards 2021 were presented in Basel on 21 September in the presence of Federal Councillor Alain Berset. The winners of the Swiss Grand Prix for Design 2020 and 2021 were honoured on this occasion.

The highlight of the Swiss Design Awards is always the exhibition of the Swiss Grand Grand Prix for Design. With an individually curated overview of their work and other educational formats, visitors were given a profound insight into the work of the exceptional talents Julia Born, Peter Knapp and Sarah Owens. Due to the cancellation of the 2020 exhibition due to the pandemic, the three winners of the Swiss Grand Award for Design 2020 were also represented in the exhibition this year: Ida Gut, Kueng Caputo and Monique Jacot.
To mark the awarding of the Swiss Grand Award for Design, a publication with detailed interviews, essays and a photo spread is published annually. The publication will be published for the first time in 2021 by Scheidegger & Spiess and was launched in September on the occasion of the Swiss Design Awards exhibition.

For the supporting program, we collaborated with two renowned local partners. Together with Design Miami / Basel, we posed the question “What makes a great generation for design?” together with finalists of the Swiss Design Awards. The event was moderated by Vera Sacchetti and Matylda Krzykowski. With the art book fair I Never Read, we organised a discussion between Julia Born (Swiss Grand Prix Design 2021), Maja Wismer (Director Kunstmuseum Basel) and Linda van Deursen (graphic designer). Several guided tours took place daily in the exhibition and Jonas Berthod moderated two exhibition talks with finalists on the topics of Swiss Graphic Design and Networks.
On 21 September, we presented the online exhibition AIRTIME, Swiss Design TV, which can be seen on WantedDesign Online until 30 October 2021. (From November onwards on our Instagram @swissdesignawards). Guided by the question “What is wanted?”, the exhibition is presented in the form of a 10-minute TV show. It was curated by Matylda Krzykowski and developed in collaboration with the Swiss Consulate General in New York and Swissnex in Boston and New York.
The supporting program gives us each the opportunity to delve deeper into the designers' design practice and learn more about their processes and needs. The hybrid forms of mediation that we experimented with last year and have taken forward this time round, enable us to reach a much wider audience.


The jury is made up of the seven members of the Federal Design Commission appointed by the Federal Council and three invited experts.

Jörg Boner
Product designer, Zürich

Claudia Caviezel
Textile design, St. Gallen

Marietta Eugster
Graphic designer, Paris/Zurich

Dr. Davide Fornari
Associate professor Research and development ECAL, Renens

Tatyana Franck
Director, Musée d’Elysée, Lausanne

Aude Lehmann
Graphic designer, Zurich

Vera Sacchetti
Design critic and curator, Basel

Joy Ahoulou
Fashion Designer, Berlin

Pierre Charpin
Product designer, Paris

Jürg Lehni
Interaction Designer, Zurich

Lela Scherrer
Fashion designer, Innovation & Design Research Balenciaga/Kering, Basel