Awards from the Future


In a more conversational sense, design awards are a very politically charged space. Barriers to entry, access to award-winning briefs, the exorbitant fees, connections with people in high places- a lot of factors, primarily built on privilege, goe into being an award winning agency, studio, firm, team, or designer (and oh, the design student).

Can we use the concerns identified in the previous stage, to form scenarios where the idea of awards can be critiqued, satirised, or inquired into?

Can we create parody awards to highlight the fallacies of the system, and an idealised one to show what works? 

What would be the dominant narratives in the future which would then be reflected in the way the awards are handed out? What projects will be honoured, by whom, and why? Whose projects?

What would utopian design awards be like; look like?
What would dystopian design awards be like; look like?

Scope for deliverables:

 The Narrative of the scenarios, of course
 Visual identity of the awards
 Open Call
 Posters, promotional Materials, etc.
 Briefs for the design competitions

Kyoorius Young Blood awards received flak from the socially conscious niche of design practitioners and educators in India, when they posted an open call for a greenwashing brief from the brand Fair & Lovely for the 2019 edition of their student design competition. As an organisation that prides itself over building a community of designers, it was unbecoming of them to be supporting and giving a platform to such a grift.

AIGA, D&AD and ADC run some of the most ‘prestigious’ design awards- the medals, the plaques, and the hierarchial many-coloured pencils are some of the most coveted honours for graphic designers around the world. Unsurprisingly, per some published reports, a disproportionately large chunk of the award recepients AND the award juries, is composed of white cis-male design practitioners working out of the same “creative hub” cities in the US, UK, and Europe. With things going virtual this year, D&AD did expand their roster of jury panelists to men and women in the global south as well, but they were still far lesser, compared to their counterparts in the global north. 

Last year, many design collectives/ publications/ institutions did dsign competitions for ‘solving’ he COVID crisis by design. Apps, 3D printed social distancing devices, ventilators and whatnots, and posters and zines won awards and accolades. A year later, we’re still stuck in what might understatedly be called the biggest SNAFU ever, and most of the award-winning designs are far from implemented.

What ends are these awards really a means to? 

On that note, what are the scales used for evaluating the works? Each design project belongs to a different social, cultural, geographical and economic context. How exactly is one project “better” and more award-worthy over others? 

Tarun and Deshna have been on design award juries nationally and internationally. Maybe i could ask about their experiences, if this is the direction we go with...