OPEN CALL | BIO 26: Designathon


BIO 26: Designathon Open Call Announced


Open call text [PDF]


The Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) is launching an open call for participation in the 26th Biennial of Design, BIO 26 – Common Knowledge, curated by Austrian design curator and cultural producer Thomas Geisler together with assistant curator Aline Lara Rezende.


BIO 26 will take on one of the greatest challenges of our time: information. Concerned with the widespread crisis in information, BIO26 seeks to harvest the best ideas that explore ways to creatively take charge and react to it, as well as to propose experiments and present alternatives to the ways we currently deal with information and knowledge.


The open call invites designers, architects, scientists, artists, communicators, educational professionals, sociologists, and the general public on a sprint journey to revisit the fundamental structures of knowledge production and transmission in society, going back to the Enlightenment.


This year we will commission six projects for the biennial through a designathon process—a three-day intensive, hands-on, sprint event in which curious and motivated people, non- designers and designers alike, will collaborate on design challenges. Selected participants will explore real challenges posed by the BIO26 curatorial team together with a partnering museum, library, university, botanical garden, and retirement home, as well as news and media organization to rethink their roles in the twenty-first century. Six esteemed designers will lead the groups as mentors until the exhibition presentation.


After choosing a challenge, the selected participants will actively join the first of two designathons taking place in May in Ljubljana. The six best projects selected during the first designathon—ideation to prototype—will continue to the next phase and receive funds to be developed further in a second designathon—prototype to product—taking place in July in Ljubljana.


From 14 November 2019 to 9 February 2020 in Ljubljana, the 26th Biennial of Design, BIO 26 – Common Knowledge, will present the outcomes of the exploratory work of the winning challenges at various locations in Ljubljana, complementing the main exhibition at MAO and accompanied by a special catalogue.


Apply now at!

Application deadline: 21 April 2019



How to Participate

The 26th Ljubljana Design Biennial, BIO 26 – Common Knowledge, is offering you a unique opportunity to attend the first designathon at MAO, the Museum of Architecture and Design. Similar to a hackathon, a designathon is an intensive hands-on event where creative and motivated people from different backgrounds get together to think critically about the future and search for productive solutions shaking up the status quo. Three days of ideation and rapid prototyping to develop modern solutions for established institutions of knowledge production and transmission in Ljubljana—such as a library, a museum, the university, news/media organizations, the botanical garden, and a retirement home—are waiting. In the heart of Ljubljana, you can create together with likeminded, passionate, and curious people and challenge each other.


Everyone is welcome to participate! We are interested in connecting interdisciplinary teams with different education backgrounds. You have three days to develop a project and present it in a ninety-second pitch. This year’s theme is the information crisis. The detailed challenges will be announced at the event.


The goal is to generate new ideas through a creative sprint process during the first designathon—and not to stop there. The winning teams will go on to the second designathon, where these ideas will receive funding to be developed further and transformed into validated prototypes, installations, services, or systems to be exhibited during the biennial. If you are curious, motivated, skilled, and eager to be challenged to solve problems concerning knowledge and information, this is the perfect place for you to be.




1. Open Call: 22 March – 21 April 2019
The open call for participation in the inaugural designathon part of the 26th Ljubljana Design Biennial (BIO26) will be launched on 22 March and is open until 21 April 2019. You can choose up to three challenges to participate in, but you will be selected for only one.


2. Invitation: 22 April – 5 May 2019
After all applications have been received, a special selection committee will nominate the participants for the first BIO26 designathon. Approximately one hundred applicants will be invited to take part in Designathon #1.


3. Designathon#1: Ideation to Prototype: 17 – 19 May 2019, at Moderna galerija
The nominated teams get the opportunity to work with prominent designers and knowledge holders from each partnering institution to create innovative solutions for the challenges proposed in the designathon.


4. Winners Announcement: 21 June 2019
An international jury will select and announce the six winning projects, one per partnering institution, that will continue development in the next designathon: Prototype to Product. These projects will be commissioned by BIO26 and will be presented in the exhibition.


5. Designathon#2: Prototype to Product: 12 – 14 July 2019
All winning teams will receive special mentorship by distinguished designers and experts, as well as seed money to further develop their ideas and prototypes for the biennial.


6. Show Off: 25 September 2019
The winning projects get the chance to work toward an exhibition installation at their partner institution and the chance to present their projects during the 26th Ljubljana Design Biennial.


BIO 26 – Common Knowledge Opening: 14 November 2019
The 26th Biennial of Design runs from 14 November 2019 to 9 February 2020 in Ljubljana.



What is a Designaton?

The first designathon to commission projects for a design biennial. Combining the creative, entrepreneurial world of startups, tweaking it with a curatorial approach, the BIO26 team is crafting a design marathon, in which an interdisciplinary team will be putting their minds and hearts together to solve a design challenge. In an intensive three-day working session, you and your team will have time to rethink the future of information processing, sharing, and understanding through challenges from established institutions, guardians of our knowledge production and transmission, and designing proposals with passion, creativity, and curiosity.


The six best projects win. Efforts from the first designathon will be presented at the end of day three and will be judged by BIO26’s expert advisory committee for the chance to be one of the six commissioned projects for BIO26.




BIO is organised by Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO) in cooperation with the Centre for Creativity, at the Museum of Architecture and Design. The project ‘Centre for Creativity’ is co-financed by the Republic of Slovenia and European Union from the European Regional Development Fund within the European Cohesion Policy for the 2014–2020 period.