The meaning of design awards and their influence in design business and education

Alex Lobos, Deana McDonagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Industrial design awards recognize the best examples of manufactured products while setting new bars for practitioners and students. Earning an award has turned into an extremely competitive task. The judging criteria for some of the most prestigious competitions like Red Dot, Good Design, D&AD Yellow/Black Pencil and IDEA gives just as much - if not more - importance to the user relevance of a product as to a dramatic form factor and pristine execution. These elites of products are perceived as role models and directly influence new generations of designers. An analysis of the actual user acceptance and market performance of awarded products surprisingly shows little correlation. Although there are fabulous examples of design increasing the value of a product, most products in the bestselling lists of retailers are nowhere to be seen in design awards ceremonies and vice versa. This inconsistency raises an interesting dilemma. Should design awards be more sensitive to market performance or should they maintain their actual focus so that the forward thinking and innovation is not limited by the business? A collection of opinions from different segments of the design and business worlds will provide insights into the current role of design awards and their influence in society. These opinions will open up a dialog for a better understanding of the implications of design awards and their role in design education and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalDesign Principles and Practices
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • Design Competitions
  • Design Education
  • Design Portfolio
  • Industrial Design
  • Material Landscape
  • Student Experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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