Award for social design project

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The product range of the online shop ’Haftsache’ was designed by TUM

The product range of the online shop ’Haftsache’ was designed by TUM students. Image: U. Benz / TUM

From laptop bags to garden benches - a wide range of design products with a unique origin can be ordered via the online shop "Haftsache.de" . The joint project "Haftsache" by the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice and the TUM aims to assist detainees with their reintegration into society - while at the same time giving students the opportunity to learn under real-world conditions.

Inmates can also earn additional income by manufacturing the products. Furthermore, this skilled work raises their self-esteem and allows them to use their time wisely while in prison. Above all, it is particularly important that this work allows the prisoners to complete an apprenticeship which could well serve as the basis for a new life after they have served their time, says Fritz Frenkler, Professor for Industrial Design at the TUM. Buyers who purchase products from the "Haftsache" online shop therefore also contribute to the successful reintegration of ex-convicts.

"Haftsache" also greatly benefits his students, says Frenkler. They needed to tailor their design drafts to the production conditions in the prison workshops - and work closely with the inmates while doing so. This brought students in contact with topics of societal relevance and gave them the opportunity to practice what is important for product design under real-world conditions. They were allowed a great deal of design freedom. The only requirements were that the products must be suitable for sale and be made of premium natural materials wherever possible.

Furthermore, the students acquired important basic business and legal knowledge, which they will definitely require later on in their professions: Because the products are actually produced and sold in the online shop, they also had to e.g. concern themselves with the signing of licensing contracts.

With its concept, "Haftsache" came out on top of more than 70 competitors at this year’s competition by the Munich Institute for Universal Design. The custom brand impressed both a panel of specialist judges as well as a group of 90 consumers. The cross-generational, wide, simple and intuitive usability of the products was recognized with both the UNIVERSAL DESIGN EXPERT 2019 and UNIVERSAL DESIGN CONSUMER 2019 awards. The fact that around 5,000 design objects were ordered via the online shop in 2017 affirms the persuasiveness of Frenkler’s design under real market conditions.

Representing the designers and all other parties involved in the project, the Bavarian State Minister for Justice Georg Eisenreich accepted the awards at a prize award ceremony in the Vorhoelzer Forum of the TUM.