The new generation of designers has got a lot to say and even more to show. Growing up somewhere in between analogue and digital, seeing new technologies emerge, living through a pandemic, and trying to stop climate change – that all sure does have an impact on how young designers think, create and act. Forward and Wix Playground both have made it their mission to offer these youngsters a platform for their voices to be heard and with the contest “Wix Playground presents: Take the big stage at Forward Festival” gave eight creatives of various fields the chance to showcase a passion project to an international audience.


In the course of four festivals in three different cities and one digital event, we saw illustrator Tessa Sima speaking about women empowerment in Iran, designer Andreas Palfinger introducing his project on shaping democracy, art director Seine Kongruangkit showing her collage film on Asian hate, Lea Lindau presenting her branding project for a charity platform, Yani Gabriel speaking about the rising sea level, Elise Chastel chatting about combining design and activism, Martin Klaffensteiner highlighting the importance of a digital health management in the midst of a pandemic and illustrator Monika Ernst speaking about the experiment of feeling nothing.


(c) Hannah Schierholz


One of the most socially relevant topics of the past years is the rise of European far right-wing parties and their goal of transforming a democratic system into a dictatorship. Antidisciplinary designer and artist Andreas Palfinger visualized the issue with his project “A Populist’s Guide To: Shaping Democracy”. “The New Right’s guiding principles are translated into the design of this guide, implementing the dissolution of existing systems, progressive radicalization and network structures in layout, typography and imagery of each step. Reading the guide from back to front yields possible answers on how to restore democracy”, Andreas explains his project, with which he aims to fuel important discussions around various hidden patterns within the latest political developments. About his moment in the spotlight, Andreas says: “It definitely was a great experience, and I also didn’t expect getting that amount of good feedback from all sides. And who else can say, they gave a talk in front of over 3.000 viewers from around 50 countries while wearing pajama pants?”



Of course, the pandemic, all of its side effects, and how Covid has been impacting our everyday lives as well as our creativity is heavy on young designers’ minds. Seine Kongruangkit in Hamburg and Martin Klaffensteiner in Vienna both chose projects revolving around Covid – with very different approaches. Bangkok-born art director Seine Kongruangkit created the short film “We are Asian” using a collage technique with the goal to empower and highlight how big of pride it is to be Asian. “Since the global onset of Covid-19 and the fury ignition of former president Donald Trump addressed the Covid-19 as `the Chinese virus´ in March 2020, the number of racist assaults and hate crimes towards the Asians has been skyrocketing all over the world. I want to highlight that we can be proud to be Asian. I created this work from my heart and I’m very proud of it” she describes the project. Seine sees her experience on stage at Forward Festival Hamburg, the creative sees as a manifestation: “It makes me feel that I’m one step closer to my goal.”



Designer Martin Klaffensteiner had the idea for “Wunderpunkt” before the first-ever Covid-19 case was registered but the chaotic administration of the health management made this project even more relevant: “Wunderpunkt is a concept design approach to the digital vaccination certificate. Its design is minimal and pragmatic: It puts information and legibility first. It doesn’t try to persuade or manipulate. The main design component is the red dot, which symbolizes the mark an injection leaves on your arm.” Martin’s project goes perfectly d’accord with his mission: His work consists of a conceptual and research-based design that puts users and experiences first. On stage at Forward Vienna he got to present “Wunderpunkt” to an audience of over 1.000 people, of which surely a big part wished it was put ino action.


(c) Niklas Schnaubelt


A whole different approach to the topic of sickness was presented by illustrator Monika Ernst with her story “Diggin”. The short comic works as a thought experiment about what would happen, if you were just pulled into nothingness and how that would look and feel like. “The aim of my submission was to go slowly and let one panel emerge after the other, without having a fixed goal in mind. It was more about showing a very specific feeling in every picture, than following a scripted narration. This mindset allowed surprises to happen and taught me to trust the process”, she describes her creative experiment. Her taking the big stage moment had an especially positive impact as she is currently working on a collaborative project with another Forward Vienna-speaker.



Reflecting on current important societal issues surely includes thinking about and acting on climate change, which is exactly what creative Yani Gabriel did with her project “Courts of 2050”. The awareness campaign provokes dialogue about our climate emergency. Due to climate change many sports venues will be at risk of flooding by 2050. The awareness campaign highlights this problem by making goals, nets, baskets and tables unreachable. “I chose to share this project because aside from my advocacy for circular economy and sustainability, it was a direct reflection of me as an art director. Aka vibrant colours, unique typefaces and minimalism”, Yani shares insights into her showcased project. She describes her appearance at Forward Berlin as her “ second creative awakening. I sat down after my talk and watched other speakers share their work and see how else I can grow and experiment as a creative.”



Lea Lindau, who took the big stage at Forward Hamburg, focused on modernizing the topic of donations using design: “The whole design is a bit more modern and integrative than conventional donation platforms. I thought this project fits pretty good in the current time, which addresses relevant topics like this one.” Through her talk, Lea also got a working student job thanks to the contest “Wix Playground presents: Take the big stage at Forward Festival”.



The new generation of designers truly showed what they have got, definitely is here to stay, and is more creative than ever! Also this year Wix Playground continues to support emerging design talents on their journey to build successful careers. “Take the big stage” will return to Berlin (22.-23.09.2022) and Vienna (06.-07.10.2022) as part of the Forward Festival 2022. If you are a junior designer or design student and between 18 and 27 years old don´t miss this opportunity and become part of the Forward Festival. Stay tuned, sign up for our Newsletter and be the first one to find out when to apply and submit your project for “Take the big stage”.