The Weltformat Graphic Design Festival is a multi-day event that has been held annually since 2009. Spread throughout the city of Lucerne, numerous exhibitions and events take place each October, providing a vibrant platform for graphic designers and enthusiasts to engage and exchange ideas.
Internationally renowned, the Weltformat Grafik Design Festival is dedicated to graphic design and its role as a cultural identity. Under an annually changing theme, World Format addresses aspects of current events in the world of visual design and actively participates in shaping the discourse. Through thematic and annual exhibitions, as well as the symposium, various aspects within the field of visual design are illuminated, made accessible, and open to discussion. World Format takes pride in serving as a meeting point for designers and an interested audience. It fosters connections among various stakeholders, leading to the creation of new ideas and concepts that actively enrich the industry. World Format sees its role not only as a networking opportunity among designers but also takes seriously its commitment to being accessible to a broad audience and engaging in the sustainable communication of the role of graphic design within the cultural landscape.
As an attractive platform for designers, curators, and researchers to realize their ideas and visions, Welt Format also provides national and international visibility. International design is presented to Swiss audiences, while Swiss designers are introduced to an international audience. Supporting emerging talent is one of Welt Format's key missions. The festival leverages its established reach to offer young creatives an attractive springboard for their careers and actively involves them in shaping the festival. Young designers have the opportunity to connect with established figures in the industry, learn from them, and solidify their own voice.
Welt Format is made possible almost entirely through the passion and dedication of volunteers and helpers. We honor and appreciate all those who contribute their talent and time to make this festival happen. Thank you!
History of the Weltformat Graphic Design Festival
The Weltformat has been taking place annually since 2009 and is dedicated to visual design. However, the idea for the festival had been circulating much earlier. On the initiative of Urs Strähl, the former head of the Graphic Arts Department in Lucerne, the exhibition «100 Best Posters - Germany Austria Switzerland» was first shown in Switzerland in 2003. In 2005, two additional exhibitions were shown in parallel to contextualize the 100 best posters. For this inaugural festival, the association «PostersLucerne» was founded with Martin Infanger as president and Sabine Witkowsk as executive director. Due to a lack of resources, unfortunately, the festival remained a one-time event for the time being. In 2009, a second exhibition, featuring a retrospective of the Lucerne agency Velvet, was already planned alongside the 100 best posters, and a third exhibition titled "Political Posters from Switzerland" completed the series, reigniting the festival spirit.
A new name was needed: thus, Weltformat was born. One year later, Erich Brechbühl was elected as president, and Esther Unternährer replaced Sabine Witkowsk as executive director. The festival scope was expanded to include eight exhibitions, complemented by the Poster Bazaar.
In 2011, the student competition, which was renamed the Newcomer Award in 2018, was introduced, and in collaboration with HSLU D&K, a new signage system was designed by Pascal Melcer. The following year, the opening day was introduced, during which introductory sessions for each exhibition took place throughout the entire Saturday afternoon.
In 2013, for the first time, a thematic focus was introduced, with Russian poster design taking center stage. By this time, Weltformat had gained international recognition, leading to Felix Pfäffli's exhibition showcasing a collection of his previous projects and works being shown in Chaumont (FR) and Le Havre (FR) in 2014. Also in 2013, an international project was realized for the first time. Luzern was the guest canton of the Swiss Embassy in Moscow that year, prompting Weltformat to be approached to exhibit Luzern's poster design in Moscow. With support, nine exhibitions were realized across Russia (Moscow, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Saint-Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, Kazan, and Vladivostok). The series was so successful that further exhibitions were organized in Berlin (DE), Chaumont (FR), Beijing (CN), Cairo (EG), and Dubai (AE), culminating in the publication of the book «PosterTown» by Spector Books in 2017.
The first workshop for Weltformat was organized by the Graphic Arts Department in 2014 under the title «Weltklasse.» The subsequent symposium was introduced at the same time, and the offerings of Weltformat continued to expand steadily.
In 2016, in addition to the eight annual exhibitions, moving posters (curated by Josh Schaub) were showcased for the first time, along with an exhibition on data visualization. Then, in 2017, Weltformat expanded to two more locations. Enthusiastic individuals from Cairo and Seoul inquired about adopting the Weltformat name and hosting exhibitions in their cities. As a result, in February 2017, two editions of Weltformat took place outside of Switzerland for the first time.
2018 marked the 10th edition of the festival, and to commemorate this milestone, Laura Moor and the Präsens Büro designed a new visual identity. For the first time, Weltformat adopted an overarching theme, «Now what?!.» Additionally, a new festival app, guiding visitors through the exhibitions, was launched.
One year later, in 2019, for the first time, the «Schönste Bücher aus aller Welt» (Most Beautiful Books from Around the World) exhibition was introduced alongside Weltformat and quickly established itself as a permanent part of the annual exhibitions.
In 2020, an official festival magazine was published as a companion publication in partnership with Präsens Editionen. Since around 2020, the Weltformat Graphic Design Festival has been held in the format we know today. Proudly, it continues to embrace the freedom to evolve and reinvent itself. We are just as excited about all the upcoming editions as design enthusiasts and festival-goers can be! You can explore all past exhibitions and festival editions in the archive.
Josh Schaub, Erich Brechbühl, Leonie Felber, Mia Gujer und Jasmina Zarlenga
und Nicole Oswald
Julie Felder und Alexia Ferrario
- volunteer coordination
- Social Media
Jasmina Zarlenga und Alessio Borando
- Web page
Mia Gujer, Svenja Kolly und Michèle Räz
und Josh Schaub
- Guest service
Mia Gujer und Svenja Kolly
Pascale Küng, Julie Felder, Julia Gross, Lena Hoffmann, Lena Eberhard und Jeanne Reinacher
- Opening Event
Simon Wenk, Michèle Räz und Jasmina Zarlenga
Pascale Küng, Lena Eberhard und Michèle Räz
- Sponsorship applicant
- Exhibition setup