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Design Awards: What Are They Good For?

There are some very serious business reasons why entering design awards and competitions is not only clever, but integral to a successful creative practice.

Design Awards: What Are They Good For?


September 30th, 2015

Marketing + Promotion
For smaller practices, where money is tight, paying for marketing and promotion is simply not an option. Awards and competitions can be a cost-effective way to build a reputation and to reach your potential clients.

Where successful projects gain mentions or win awards, there will often be jury citations, editorial and other testimonials that you can use as further promotion on your own website and in marketing materials.

Programs invariably have significant marketing strategies, to promote both the awards/competition and the entries themselves. Investment by the program equals investment in the promotion of your practice. With winning entries, this could potentially mean thousands of dollars worth of free media exposure—not to mention the ability to use the phrase “award-winning architect/designer”.

Professional Development
Often young practices don’t have the ability to enter finished projects into awards, because they simply don’t have any. This makes it difficult to take your work to the next level, and to secure new work. Competitions, and awards that allow unbuilt works, are your opportunity to be awarded for your creativity.

However, the often-overlooked benefit to your practice comes from the process of preparing your entries. Even if you are concerned that your work isn’t going to win, you should still go through the process of entering. The questions that juries and programs ask will undoubtedly highlight areas of your practice and professional development that you can focus on. For instance, an entry into the Dulux Study Tour asks you to list your involvement as a leader in the architectural community. If you’re not currently doing anything in that area, you’ll certainly be looking to lift your game for next year’s award.

Perhaps more importantly, entering awards and competitions can give emerging practices invaluable feedback, helping you to better judge your own work and focus on areas of strength and improvement.

Community Involvement
Sometimes awards aren’t about the kudos, or even the direct benefit of publicity. Programs such as Indesign’s The Project—which partners creatives with product suppliers to create unique pop-up installations—are also about collaborations, networking, and community building.

The Project often takes designers out of their comfort zone, creating fantastical scenes that must also be practical within an active showroom setting. Many of these relationships between suppliers and designers continue on for years to come, and can be invaluable experience for students and graduates.

Easy Does It
While entering competitions and awards can be incredibly beneficial, it’s also worth planning which programs are the best for your practice. If you were to enter every one that came along, you’d spend all your time entering and no time on your practice.

It is important to map out the year’s competitions and awards, and identify the key programs that get you in front of your potential clients. Look at where competitions and winners are promoted, and determine if your work is the right fit with previous entries. Don’t spread yourselves too thinly, and make sure you’re entering work that meets the requirements of the program.

Ultimately, awards and competitions are about furthering your practice and challenging yourself and your staff. If you aren’t entering at least one program each year, you’re doing yourselves a disservice and missing out on a lot of free promotion and professional development. So get out there and get noticed.


COMING SOON: Indesign’s INDE.Awards – a new benchmark for design awards in the Asia Pacific.
This is a diverse and dynamic corner of the world, and with the INDE.Awards, Asia Pacific recognises its leading work and creative minds on its own terms.
Visit check out the INDE.Awards website.

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