Awards. The design community as a whole does not suffer from a lack of options when it comes to entering competitions recognizing good design in a multitude of disciplines. Whether you design on a grand scale or focus on the narrowest of fields, on a local and international level, there seems to be a design competition for everyone, everywhere, at any time. So does design awards hold any importance when design has become the norm, or is it merely an excuse to pat each other on the back?
To what extent is a design award worth anything today? Thanks to the wonderful world of marketing and advertising, the word design has become ubiquitous in our consumer-driven everyday life. It's a marketing gimmick, a tagline, a cliche. Chewing gum and toothbrushes is marketed as design-items, heck – everything from women's sanitary pads to breakfast cereal now have "limited design editions" plastered all over it's packaging. Some call it a democratization of design. For most of us, it's a joke.
When discussing design and impact, We're reminded of the infamous tumblr-poster stating "Design won't save the world, go volunteer at a soup kitchen, you pretentious f**k". For most professionals in our field this rings true to a certain extent. Making software interfaces, designing dashboards or developing a new website for company X probably won't contribute to world peace, but does that make our work less important?
Well, yes. Measured against world peace and challenges of equal nature, the day to day operations of the majority of us seem fairly trivial, but...
Through the IxDA we've had the pleasure of engaging with professionals working with everything from the World Food Program in the poorest parts of the world, to Jet-engine UX analysis, massive online platforms, internal business intelligence tools and your everyday consultancy jobs. What strikes us is that regardless of how "important" or "unimportant" their job is, most of the people we meet in the industry find their job meaningful. No matter how local, niche or introvert the job, our processes methodologies are (at least should be) focused on improving the human condition. For the people interacting with the end-result - it matters.
For the women and men who work in our industry, design is not a joke - it's a our livelihood - and for most of us, it's a lifestyle. We utilize our methods and principles to solve both everyday problems to globally scaled challenges. To paraphrase David Stairs of Design without Borders; Design can not save the world, but designers can contribute to its improvement and further development.
It is in this context we (very subjectively) believe design awards have an even greater importance. It serves as a platform to acknowledge truly great products, amazing services and original concepts that raises the bar for our profession and gives us something to strive for. It enables us to identify talent across the globe and recognize ingenious solutions for problems we didn't even know existed, potentially challenging us to rethink the way we work or how we approach our own obstacles.
When Jennifer Bove and Raphael Grignani founded the Interaction Awards 4 years ago, it wasn't due to the lack of design awards, it was the lack of the "right" awards. IxDA's Interaction Awards have chosen a deliberate path of using intent-based, rather than channel-based, entry categories. This has allowed the Awards to consider a broader body of work, while posing a challenge to continuously adapt the categories to the changing landscape of Interaction Design.
So, what does it mean to Connect, Disrupt, Empower, Engage, Express and Optimize in 2013? Get involved, get recognized and get acknowledged, submit or nominate work to the 2014 Interaction Design Awards before september 15!
We're looking forward to seeing great work from our broad community! - Interaction Awards Team