22 February 2018


form Nº 276.

The good news about failure is that it’s all relative. And the bad news, according to our author Mads Pankow, is that “failure [nonetheless] sucks”. In form 276 we attend to failure in design, in the market and in the digital world. We also ask Nils Holger Moormann where he stands regarding this well known, albeit reluctantly discussed, process.


Our attempt at defining what failure means has led us to the realisation that failure is first a process, and second, something that depends on the expectations that we have of a project. Accordingly, Florian Walzel concludes his piece “Der Verlust des Scheiterns – How Does One Fail in Design?” with the insight that it is no longer possible to fail because of the low or false expectations we have in design today, even though we have in the meantime devised a range of criteria to measure failure.

In order to fail, you first need goals. Current start-up culture is quite clear about what these should be: to make money (fast and lots of it) with something new. As Mads Pankow shows us in his piece “Der Markt will scheitern – Up or Out” there are differences in mentality between the German and US American start-up landscapes: the former innovates by insight, the latter sees economy as evolution and individual failure is blithely seen as an acceptable risk that is part of it.

In the digital world, failure transpires in completely different conditions. In “Von Motten und anderen Meilensteinen – If in Doubt Do It” Christopher Lindinger writes about a different culture of failure being possible here because it is much easier to fix mistakes. Being able to try things out faster and in simpler ways makes it possible to break the mould and in the best cases leads on to innovation.

Even a man who has celebrated success with his (analogue) furniture has not been able to avoid experiencing failure. In our interview with Nils Holger Moormann, he reveals how, as an entrepreneur, he is still concerned with principles that are not just aimed at economic success.

Fittingly, in the Archive section we focus on examples of failed products in the history of design.


Also in the current issue we take a critical look at digital products and services and the prejudices they generate and spread. We present the Phase 11 project of the Federal Centre of Excellence for the Cultural and Creative Industries, and in our Material section we shine the spotlight on ways of giving digital data tangible form. In the Discourse section we consider, to which processes in the field of design the phenomenon of design thinking might testify. You can see an overview of all the articles in the current issue here.


As always, you can read three articles from the magazine online. The following three are available this time: “Prototyping the Arctic” is about a speculative research project on the future of the Arctic; next is the interview with Nils Holger Moormann called “Zu viel Wissen ist auch nicht gescheit” and finally, the article “Digitales Kinderzimmer – Play-Life Balance” looks at the risks and opportunities for children in digital media.


Nº 283
The Power of Design

form Design Magazine

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