What had been successfully started in the 1980s was continued throughout the 1990s under Brun Ringe and Ralph Wiegmann: iF systematically extended its products and services and secured itself a top position among international design institutions. Towards the end of the 1990s, the visitor numbers at the iF exhibition rose to some 300,000 for the first time, thus making it one of the most visited exhibitions worldwide.
Since the 1980s, iF had seen itself as a forum. Consequently, this led to a new name and identity in 1990: from then onwards, iF has been the acronym for "Industrie Forum Design Hannover". This open term also marked an official departure from the far too narrow idea of the "good industrial form".
There was a wide range of activities in the 1990s. Under director Brun Ringe a new book series was launched: the "Design Koepfe" (Design Heads) series was dedicated to important designers. But most importantly, the regulation that only trade fair exhibitors were admitted to participate in competitions was finally abolished: from then onwards, all international companies and design studios were eligible for participation in iF competitions, the largest of which was and still is the iF product design award. Especially important for iF was the fact that the institution no longer needed to exhibit in constantly changing halls but instead received its "own house" in the exhibition grounds in 1993. Since then, iF exhibitions have been presented in a beautiful domed structure located at the heart of the exhibition grounds.
Without any doubt, the 1990s were the decade of design, in which the profession also attained a firm position in entrepreneurial contexts. iF provided consultancy for the state of Lower Saxony and for countless companies and institutions. iF responded to the revolution in the IT and telecoms sectors by establishing the iF interaction design award which was held for the first time in 1997. The increasing significance of ecological issues was acknowledged with the iF ecology design award.
Left hand side pictures (top to bottom):
JR-W500 Nozomi shinkansen high-speed train, design: Alexander Neumeister
iF award-winning Hansgrohe trade-fair stan, design: Dieter Thiel Philippe & Starck
EO transparent furniture system, manufacturer: interlübke, design: Schneider und Partner
Visually striking graphic design: David Carson