(US) National Design Awards - IxD Category

17 Jun 2010 - 12:51pm
4 years ago
6 replies
1526 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

The National Design Awards were recently announced by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (the US's Smithsonian Museum's museum on Design). http://www.nationaldesignawards.org/2010/category/Interaction-Design/

The winner was Lisa Strausfeld (of Pentagram) and the 2 runner ups were Local Projects and Potion.

Looking at these winners, I felt uncomfortable. I have as wide and encompassing a definition of IxD as anyone and yes these candidates have done tremendous work, but there is something missing, or are we missing something here in this organization/community?

I look at these winners and I see great design; I see great digital design, but I don't see the type of design that the vast majority of the people in this organization represents. Is what we do that banal? I mean should the designers of the applications and services that so impact our lives NOT be congratulated.

How can we have this year a winner who designed the Sugar Interface overtake the team that designed iOS? (or iPhone OS?) Just in terms of sheer impact alone, let alone well the amazing IxD in that design? And taking it further, what about fro design's work in S. Africa? 

In exploratory work, I would put the Mozilla/Raskin work up there, I would put the achievements made by the arduino system, etc.

Then there is just down and dirty work by Google, by Microsoft and others that are changing the landscape of how we behave in relation to complexity brought about by technology.

This award feels old, dated, and wrongly positioned for where IxD is today and how we should be representing ourselves as a discipline. I love Bill Moggridge and I hope his leadership at the C+H continues, but I encourage him to try to bring realism and representation into the competition. Look at the Product Design side of things, it felt very on target. The IxD side of things felt really off to me.

In the product design division it was all organizations of major standing. All 3 of whom could have easily represented IxD even better than the 3 winners. This also says a lot about the state of IxD today where Prod and IxD really aren't separated, but even if you wanted to stay the course and separate them out, I would put Apple as our champion with Google as our dark horse (not so dark), and maybe an example as rich as Mint/Intuit in the mix as well.  

What do you guys think?

-- dave

Comments

17 Jun 2010 - 1:09pm
.pauric
2006

Awards, Oscars, Worthwhile films.

Enough said.

The IxDA should have a think about setting up some sort of Sundance/Cannes IxD festival where the big guns get props for game changing work and the noobs get to showcase their work and hopefully land a job.

/pauric

17 Jun 2010 - 11:06pm
billabel
2006

I totally agree.
Design awards tend to be marketing showcases rather than awards based on merit. It's disheartening.
Sent from my iPad



20 Jun 2010 - 11:38am
Jack L. Moffett
2005

The National Design Awards are a little odd in that, while the awards are given annually, they don't necessarily reflect the best of the previous year. They are approached much more like curating an exhibit. In addition, they don't award a specific design, but rather a body of work from an individual or firm. It seems more a "Hall of Fame" model. Lisa Strausfeld and Potion were both finalists last year, with Perceptive Pixel the winner. I suppose, given this perspective, it makes sense that they would still be in the running for the award this year.

In the NDA's explanation of the selection process, they explain "Extraordinary originality in identifying, shaping, and solving problems is valued highly, and nominees whose work significantly broadens the conventions of their discipline, introduces formal innovation, and exhibits consistently high levels of imagination and insight are given special consideration." I'm not particularly familiar with the work of Local Projects or Potion, but they do appear to meet the above criteria. Not so with their final statement:

"Finally, in keeping with Cooper-Hewitt’s definition of design as a force of change, the jury weighs the extent to which the general public has benefited from the explorations and achievements of each nominee."

This is where I think the selections don't make as much sense. I don't believe the example work depicted has significantly benefitted the general public. These seem to be more like the winners that inhabited the Communication Arts Interaction Design Annual—more based on the "coolness factor" than impact on the industry.


20 Jun 2010 - 2:05pm
Margaret Gould ...
2009

I actually served on the National Design Awards jury last year, and have a few thoughts.
First of all, both Apple and Google are past winners, and since, as someone subsequently noted, it is about a body of work, it is not likely that the same organization would be named twice. 
Second, Lisa Strausfeld's contributions are pretty deep and long term; I remember when I was attending NYU's ITP program in the mid 90s, her work on the visualization of data was highly influential. Sugar represents the ability for design to impact the "other 90%", as the Cooper-Hewitt refers to the majority of people on earth who don't own, and never will own, and iPod, but sure do need help accessing clean water and educating their children. 
The National Design Awards tend to take a long view of things, and the Interaction Design category is new, so it will take a while to catch up with all of the great work that's been done over the last few decades. I'm looking forward to seeing future winners and how the category defines itself in the years ahead....
Margaret StewartYouTube

On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 6:31 PM, David Malouf <dave.ixd@gmail.com> wrote:

The National Design Awards were recently announced by the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (the US's Smithsonian Museum's museum on Design). http://www.nationaldesignawards.org/2010/category/Interaction-Design/

The winner was Lisa Strausfeld (of Pentagram) and the 2 runner ups were Local Projects and Potion.

Looking at these winners, I felt uncomfortable. I have as wide and encompassing a definition of IxD as anyone and yes these candidates have done tremendous work, but there is something missing, or are we missing something here in this organization/community?

I look at these winners and I see great design; I see great digital design, but I don't see the type of design that the vast majority of the people in this organization represents. Is what we do that banal? I mean should the designers of the applications and services that so impact our lives NOT be congratulated.

How can we have this year a winner who designed the Sugar Interface overtake the team that designed iOS? (or iPhone OS?) Just in terms of sheer impact alone, let alone well the amazing IxD in that design? And taking it further, what about fro design's work in S. Africa? 

In exploratory work, I would put the Mozilla/Raskin work up there, I would put the achievements made by the arduino system, etc.

Then there is just down and dirty work by Google, by Microsoft and others that are changing the landscape of how we behave in relation to complexity brought about by technology.

This award feels old, dated, and wrongly positioned for where IxD is today and how we should be representing ourselves as a discipline. I love Bill Moggridge and I hope his leadership at the C+H continues, but I encourage him to try to bring realism and representation into the competition. Look at the Product Design side of things, it felt very on target. The IxD side of things felt really off to me.

In the product design division it was all organizations of major standing. All 3 of whom could have easily represented IxD even better than the 3 winners. This also says a lot about the state of IxD today where Prod and IxD really aren't separated, but even if you wanted to stay the course and separate them out, I would put Apple as our champion with Google as our dark horse (not so dark), and maybe an example as rich as Mint/Intuit in the mix as well.  

What do you guys think?

-- dave

(((Pl
20 Jun 2010 - 4:05pm
Jack L. Moffett
2005

Thanks for contributing your thoughts as a former jury member, Margaret. You mentioned that both Apple and Google are past winners, but as last year was the first year for the Interaction Design category, they weren't recognized specifically for IxD. I'm curious, does this preclude them from being recognized in another category?

Best,

Jack

20 Jun 2010 - 5:04pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Margaret,

my main question was to the community. Does these 3 winners represent what you think IxD is? I pointed to Apple & Google and others b/c I see them as just that. (Jack's point was also my 1st thought. I think Apple got recognized for product, but not for IxD). I know Lisa Strausfeld's work. It is great, but is it representative of where IxD is being practiced?  AND! is it impactful? I don't think so at all. The work of ZipCar, Mint, Amazon, even Microsoft has been so much more positively impactful in the space of IxD. 

I'll also say this much, when I read these nominations it sounds like the organization is confusing "interactive design" much of which is much more artistic than "interaction design" which is so much more direct motivation of end-users (over designers).

- dave

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