Salon Method


Developing forward-looking concepts in philosophical discourse

The Salon Method refers to the (historical) intellectual salon in its creation of an inspiring space for stimulating and deep discussion. The method brings together experts from different fields of expertise, experience, and views, and allows for a substantial contribution to diverse issues facing the future.

An intensive dialog is started based on an Input Paper, which details the current state of knowledge about the topic at hand and scenarios for the future. This dialog takes place outside of the routines of everyday life: Participants engage in small group discussions and break off into pairs to discuss the issue while taking a stroll. These varied creative methods allow for innovative and interdisciplinary solutions. A salon usually last between one and a half and two days. The results of the salon are summarized in an Output Paper, which is published. A Delphi Survey is also conducted at the beginning and end of the Salon.

The Salon Method at a Glance:

  • Temporary think tank in a special atmosphere
  • Input Paper which is prepared in advance and delineates the question at hand
  • Moderated procedure with various creative methods
  • Group discussion and philosophical strolls
  • Output Paper with results and Delphi Survey


Jain, A.; Bonaker, A.; Dannenberg, S.; Pradeep N.C. (2013): Scenarios for the Future of Governance and Participation in the Telangana Region with Special Focus on the Minor Irrigation Sector. Publikation der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Vertretung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen beim Bund (Hrsg.) (2008): Auf dem Weg zum gläsernen Produkt: Politische Rahmenbedingungen für die Zukunft der RFID-Technologie: 1. Berliner Technologie-Salon. [Zugriff 28.07.2016]

Dienel, C. (2005): Vision Sachsen-Anhalt 20-xx Zukunftsperspektiven für nachhaltiges staatliches Handeln. Publikation der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. [Zugriff 28.07.2016]



The Salon Method was developed at the beginning of the 2000s by the nexus Institute (Dienel 2005). This instrument of participation was designed as a way for experts to tackle problems facing the future by picking up on the atmosphere of the ‘salon,’ a concept established in the 18th-20th centuries. In these historical salons, culturally, politically, and academically relevant topics were discussed. Although these were conducted in a private setting, they were of great societal significance. In the nexus Salon Method, a pleasant and out-of-the-ordinary conference location is selected. The method combines subject-oriented, communicative, creative, and aesthetic elements in order to encourage innovative and interdisciplinary solutions.

The Salon Method includes five phases over the course of one and a half to two days. The departure point for discussion is an Input Paper, which is distributed before the conference begins. The phases are as follows:

The Salon begins with a so-called “Opening Session,” in which the essential elements of the Input Paper are discussed, a general question is posed, and a scenario for the future of the situation is depicted. During the next phase, “Counterpoint,” participants break off into pairs and go for a stroll, during which they discuss their individual views regarding the question and weigh the pros and cons of the proposed solution. The issues raised during this phase are documented by a team of moderators and later displayed in a gallery. An “Interlude” follows, in which participants work with creative problem-solving techniques to develop visionary solutions to the problem. The day ends with “Table Talks” during a collective dinner. Refreshed from a night of sleep, participants engage in the “Reprise” during day two, in which implementable points of action are drafted. The Salon ends with a “Finale Grandioso,” in which the collective positions and suggestions are compiled.

Both the procedure and the results of the Salon are documented in an Output Paper, which is distributed among the participants, and after reaching a consensus, published. A Delphi Survey can also be conducted before and after the Salon to document changes in opinions.

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