The Festival of Pioneering Thinkers
‘Spring!’ was the motto under which Merck and the foundation Jugend forscht organised the 53rd Federal Competition in Darmstadt. We were involved in the design, organisational planning and execution, as well as being responsible for the overall concept and advance publicity of this competition addressed to the younger generation.
As a counterweight to the intensive presentations, we developed a supporting programme in conjunction with Merck, to acquaint the researchers, jury members and guests with numerous aspects of the ‘city of science’ while at the same time telling them about the extraordinary past, present and future of the Merck company.
The climax of the young scientists’ competition was the award of special prizes and subsequent prizegiving ceremony, paying a fitting tribute to the efforts of the successful contenders. With the help of various show acts, and Max Giesinger as a surprise guest, the special prize award in Merck’s jubilee dome tent, the ‘M-Sphere’, was an opportunity for the 182 talented contestants to celebrate together with the jury and guests of honour.
Equally festive was the concluding prizegiving ceremony at the Darmstadtium, attended by high-ranking representatives of politics and industry, where the young researchers learned who had carried off the prizes for the whole of Germany. Federal Minister of Education Anja Karliczek handed over the prizes, and encouraged the winners to go on researching and so help improve life in Germany and all over the world.
A ‘Pioneering Thinkers’ Tour’ back in September last year first drew public attention throughout Germany to the competition. The central element of this advance campaign was the ‘youfo’. At four strategic locations, our abstract communication tool encouraged young people, even before the start of the competition, to linger and ponder, address issues critically and engage in creative experiment. Each of the tours attracted quite different target groups, for each of which we created an individual workshop format with the aim of introducing participants to Merck’s jubilee slogan ‘Always Curious’, also leading in the end result to an exceptional design of the ‘youfo’ in question. All four ‘youfos’ reappeared, as feeling-charged eyecatching elements, on the stage for the prizegiving ceremony. In addition a film was made which illustrated, on the basis of the ‘Youfo Tour’, just how important it is to blaze new trails as a pioneering thinker, and set the tone in advance for the Federal Competition in Darmstadt.
The first challenge for our interior architects was to find a way of presenting one hundred and five totally different research projects, with their differing requirements, in an appealing and flexible way. The result was an exhibition format which, translated into the branding colours and icons of the host company Merck, still gave every individual project sufficient space to unfold. When it came to the design of the stage for the prizegiving ceremony we again favoured a restrained setting, as a backdrop to the young researchers and their ‘youfos’.
Along with the spatial design, we were also responsible for planning the entire publicity of the event. Starting from the development of a key visual, this went on to include numerous print and digital media as well as the entire branding at and around the various venues.