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Els ter Haar

Industrial Designer / CGI

What makes a product award-worthy?

Just like the Grammys and the Oscars there are also awards to win each year within the design world. For several years now we have found ourselves in the world of product design awards. Red Dot Design yearbooks and museum visits already introduced us as young designers to these awards. How does your product end up here and how do you know whether your design is award-worthy?

About two years ago, one of our customers asked us to participate in a design competition. Our customer regularly saw these types of design awards at its competitors products and wanted to see whether they also qualified for this with products that we have developed in collaboration. The design award seals are often a sign of quality for buyers and thus gain an advantage over similar products that do not have this. So it can be a useful marketing tool.

We then started with entering in a small-scale competition in Germany called the Aluminum Profile Award. This competition revolved around innovation in aluminum profiles. We chose the guiding profile from our Portofino sun awning and won the prize. Once the ball started rolling, we started participating in more and more design awards, including the Red Dot Design Award, iF Design Award, European Product Design Award and the German Design Award.

Most design awards are a competition in which you as a company or brand submit a product that competes with other products from that year. The design competitions have an independent jury or panel that ultimately makes a selection from all applications of products that may receive the award in certain categories. The selection criteria can cover different areas, such as quality, innovation, sustainability or functionality. You don't necessarily have to score high in all these areas. We always focus on a different area for each product with regard to the associated target group and user environment.

When submitting your product, it is important to present your design in the best possible way. Many award competitions require you to submit a physical (scale) model of your product for the jury to review. In addition, describe the different competencies of your product, highlighting the unique aspects of your design with accompanying images. At the moment we mostly design technical products, which you as a consumer may not immediately think of as innovation. That is why we always look for the parts of the design that are innovative or that distinguish the product from the competition. This could be, for example, a smart way of fastening or a new operation of the interior of an awning. Since the jury often also consists of industrial designers, it does not work to your advantage to use woolly marketing language. Use technical terms to explain your design as well as possible. When the judging has taken place and your product has been selected for the award, you will receive a certificate and sometimes your product will appear in a database, yearbook or there will be a gala to celebrate. For us, receiving these awards is a sign that we are on the right track as a design agency and can sail on the changing waves of society, the design world and innovations in the market.

Do you have questions about this article or are you curious whether your product has a chance to win a design award? Please contact Els.

This article was written by Els ter Haar. Els is an industrial designer and visualizes the products at Fabrique Invent.

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