Industrial design awards and competitions: IDEA

The International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) is an award program previously co-sponsored by BusinessWeek magazine, and in 2010 Fast Company magazine and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). According to the IDSA, IDEA “is dedicated to fostering business and public understanding of the importance of industrial design excellence to the quality of life and economy”. Every year, designers and corporations submit entries into the competition in many categories. Established in 1980, with the IDEA program the winners are honored at annual ceremonies (such as the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) / IDSA CONNECTING ’07 World Design Congress in San Francisco, CA). The judges are chosen from different design firms and corporations throughout the world using the following criteria:

  • Innovation: (design, experience, manufacturing)
  • Benefit to User: (performance, comfort, safety, ease of use, usability, user interface, ergonomics, universal function and access, quality of life, affordability)
  • Responsibility: Benefit to society, environment, culture and economy (improved accessibility to a greater percentage of the population, improves education, meets basic needs of low income populations, reduces disease, improves competitiveness, raises wealth, improves the quality of life, supports cultural diversity, improves energy efficiency, durability, addresses product lifecycle effects on the environment, uses low impact materials and processes throughout lifecycle, designed for repair/reuse/recyclability, addresses issues of toxicity, reduced material usage and waste reduction
  • Benefit to the client (profitability, increased sales, brand reputation, employee morale)
  • Visual appeal and appropriate aesthetics
  • Design Research: (usability, emotional factors, unmet needs) testing rigor and reliability)
  • Design Strategy Category (internal factors and methods, strategic value and implementation)

There are 23 categories of designs in this award, from kitchen to environment. In 2014 IDEA, one of the Golds went to DELTAIR, a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (S.C.B.A.) for firefighters as a research project conducted to improve the SCBA design used by firefighters. The research team used a co-design approach to work with veteran firefighters across the United States. Participants were selected to include different regions, climates and population densities. The research was designed to balance firefighter preferences with current standards to create the ideal SCBA. Designed by Clint Mayhue, Mark Williamson, Barry Reece, Dave Haverty, John Baker, Craig Martin, James Wilcox, Jose Cruz and Doug Olsen of Avon Protection; and Philip Palermo, IDSA and Russell Kroll of Formation Design Group.

Another successful first has been The BMW i3. It stands for a new approach to premium mobility. It has been conceived by BMW Group as the first large-scale production car with an all-electric engine, tailored to the requirements of sustainable, emission-free mobility. With its revolutionary architecture and CRP passenger compartment, the BMW i3 weighs only 1,195 kilograms. The design is clear and minimalist.

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