Founded by architects Eero Saarinen, Charles and Ray Eames, and Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., the GOOD DESIGN Awards are now the world’s largest and most distinguished design competition. The program bestows international recognition upon the world's most prominent designers and manufacturers for advancing new, visionary, and innovative product concepts, invention and originality, and for stretching the envelope beyond what is considered ordinary product and consumer design.
The awards were announced last week by the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies to honor worldwide design innovation, vision, sustainability, and the competitive design edge. With submissions from 50 countries, the competition distinguishes truly creative achievements and thus pays tribute to the high potential, creatively talented designers and design companies around the world.
“GOOD DESIGN is referred as the ‘Oscars’ of industrial design," states Christian K. Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President, The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and chief curator of the GOOD DESIGN program.
This year’s jury was held at the American Institute of Architects in Los Angeles and included:
• Giorgio Borruso, Principal, Giorgio Borruso Design, Marina Del Rey, California
• Benjamin Dimson, Program Manager, Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America, Carlsbad, California
• Eric Olson, Principal, Stuart Karten Design, Inc., Marina Del Rey, California
• Graham Sadtler, BSH Home Appliances Corporation, Irvine, California
• Ravi Sawheny, CEO, RKS Design, Thousand Oaks, California
• Patrick Tighe, Princpal, Patrick Tighe Architecture, Santa Monica, California
Winning designs for 2011 ranged from the French manufactured Dassault Falcon jet by BMW Group DesignworksUSA to the Zefiro380 High-Speed Train designed by Bombardier Transportation in Germany. Other products include: high-tech kitchens and appliances, electric cars, European and Asian luxury automobiles, futuristic motorcycles, state-of-the-art tractors, high-tech packaging, advanced electronics, masterpiece time mechanisms, signature chairs and office furnishings, sleek computers and televisions, bold mobile phones, clothing, skis, boats, electric urban chargers for tomorrow's vehicles, bicycles, tools, office products, bathroom fixtures, building materials, headphones, pencil sharpeners, and sportswear, graphics and packaging, creative branding, and adult well-being products--everything from the spoon to the city as the program's original founders intended in 1950.
A total of over 500 Awards were given in 2011 by the Los Angeles jury, representing the work of thousands of designers and industry leaders producing the finest accomplishments in design and manufacturing from 38 nations.
“The GOOD DESIGN Awards,” stated jury member, Giorgio Borruso, "is an amazing opportunity to understand the state of global design today. These innumerable projects come from many different geographical areas, brands, manufacturers and design offices. Through them, you can see how design is shaping our world, now as well as in the near future,” he adds.
“This year’s program,” Mr. Borruso continued, “a snapshot of what design has achieved in 2011, clearly demonstrated how products are noticeably getting closer to the user, triggering powerful emotional responses from the public; how interfaces have become generally friendlier and more intuitive; and, in certain cases–like interactive objects, for example–how software and hardware are fusing together almost seamlessly.”
“The judging criteria used for today’s GOOD DESIGN,” added Mr. Narkiewicz-Laine, “is the same specifications that were used by the original jury as shaped by Saarinen and Eames. That criteria is not only about aesthetic merit, but also takes into consideration the other designs forces of utility, functionality, durability, and today’s emphasis on sustainability.”
“I was very impressed,” stated Graham Sadtler, “with the criteria for judging and the fact that the program has remained true to its roots since it foundation. The question of ‘Is it GOOD DESIGN?’ seems simple on the surface, but definitely encompasses all aspects of design from aesthetic form, materials, usability and interaction, to function. Therefore I believe this simple statement of criterion is a great way to judge the design of products.”
“I believe,” continued Mr. Sadtler, “since the economic crisis of 2008 more companies are aware of the value of GOOD DESIGN as a means to gain a competitive edge, and this was evident in many of the submissions.”
“Some of the winning products that made the biggest impressions on me were: the collection from Bodum AG., some of the work from BMW, the large medical devices done by RKS, and the Zoku Popscicle maker,” added Mr. Sadtler.
“Today, we are seeing a trend towards no-compromise design in products by which the consumer need not reject the poorly designed object but rather select the personal preference from a variety of well designed ones," states Ravi Sawheny. “Today, design is less a competitive edge and more a consumer requirement.”
“In addition to products from iconic brands,” continued Mr. Borruso, “we have seen quality submissions from still largely unknown manufacturers in unexpected countries. This has been a refreshing and welcome development, a sure sign that ‘GOOD’ DESIGN has expanded its reach, perhaps by becoming more globally accessible, thus inspiring excellence in new players and locations.”
“The extraordinary spread of categories," Mr. Borruso observed, “showcasing the most diverse products, ranging from medical devices to furniture, automobiles, electronics, and so on, shows that–in spite of the current worldwide economic crisis–Design is still extremely relevant. In fact, design is the driving force behind the success of those companies that manage to succeed, by fostering superior quality and the highest degree of user engagement.”
“All in all,” stated Mr. Narkiewicz-Laine, “this year’s GOOD DESIGN program bestowed the coveted GOOD DESIGN Award to the most important and influential industrial and graphic designers in the world.”
"This is the singular, international design awards program the entire design and corporate world waits for each year, " stated Mr. Narkiewicz-Laine. "GOOD DESIGN says it all today—no more, no less—just as it had in 1950 and now nearly 61 years."
The 2011Awards are listed here.