How the Red Dot Design Awards Became the Design World’s Greatest Accolade
Differentiate by Design - May 18, 2021, by Aztro
Receiving over 18,000 entries every year from designers and design firms spanning 70+ different countries, the Red Dot Design Awards are an annual celebration of the very best the design world has to offer. And while the awards include categories such as Brands and Communication Design, and Design Concept, it’s the Product Design category that they are most renowned for, with those who win the coveted awards guaranteed to go on and join the ranks of international design legends.
The history of the Red Dot Design Awards
Now a global success, the awards themselves have changed a lot over time. Their beginnings started in Essen, Germany when, in 1954, an association known as Verein Industrieform was launched by Krupp’s public relations and advertising department. This group was founded with the aim to help modernise the country's consumer goods and to foster innovation through design. In 1955, after the end of the Second World War, the first annual design competition was held by the association, and on 5 October the exhibition Ständige Schau formschöner Industrieerzeugnisse (Permanent Exhibition of Attractively Designed Industrial Products) was opened. This world-first consumer goods exhibition was incredibly well received and garnered both local and international attention, placing a spotlight on design, innovation, and the benefits of modern engineering.
Because of this resounding success, the competition was then held annually until 1961, when the exhibition was forced to move to a new home in the Old Synagogue in Essen. With the move came other changes, one of the biggest being the launch of special exhibitions from other European countries such as Italy and Finland, both known for their exceptionally well designed products.
In 1990, the association changed its name to Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen (DZNRW), and when Professor Dr. Peter Zec took over as Managing Partner he changed the logo to a red dot, and an award bearing this symbol was officially given for the first time in 1992. The Red Dot Design Awards are now internationally renowned, so much so that three museums exist where you can see a range of winning products on display. Understandably, the first was built in 1997 in the birthplace of the awards: Essen, while the second Red Dot Design Museum opened in 2005 in Singapore. Visitors can also enjoy a curated selection of goods at the Red Dot Design Museum Xiamen, located at Terminal 2 of Gaoqi Airport in China, which opened in 2018.
The Award Today
A panel of expert jury members made up of international specialists convene once a year to appraise the entries and award the prizes in the three disciplines: the Red Dot Award: Product Design; Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design; and Red Dot Award: Design Concept
From home appliances to furniture, throughout its existence a number of world-class designers have received a Red Dot Design Award for their ingenuity and innovation through design. In 2016, TROIKE won with their stunningly beautiful bottle opener called Circus, a circular stainless steel opener that straddles the boundary of art and functionality.
French designer Inga Sempé also received the award in 2007 with her uniquely formed Moël furniture that features a contemporary-shaped upholstered armchair resembling the shape of a rising shell. In 2020, the Ferrari SF90 Stradale took home an award with the jury remarking: “The design pays due respect to the brand history and has managed to find the perfect form for the modular PHEV architecture. Inspired by the Ferrari supercars, it offers their driving experience in harmony with state-of-the-art drive technology.”
Red Dot Design Award Winners at Aztro Marketplace
The Rule/One Pen and Ruler, is just 13cm in length, this robust aluminum combo was designed to work on paper or on a tablet, making it the perfect tool for designers, architects, and engineers. Stylish to a fault, when awarding the Rule/One the Red Dot Design Award, the jury remarked on its simple and straightforward design; testament to the fact that less is often more.
Another award-winner out of Taiwan, the Drip - Pour Over Coffee Stand by Lyfe won the coveted award in 2017. This unique cast aluminum design is the ultimate sculptural piece for coffee lovers who enjoy both form and function. The jury were impressed with the flowing lines of this exceptional product, especially when it's in motion.
The CUTTR - Pizza/Cheese Cutter was also designed by Lyfe and it’s easy to see why it was a hit with the jury at the 2018 Red Dot Design Awards. Turning the idea of cutting on its head, CUTTR moves away from the familiar silhouette we are used to with knives, and instead presents an unconventional form that not only looks good, but also slices through cheese or pizza with ease.
Latvian design studio An&angel is no stranger to the Red Dot Design Awards. The European firm has been pushing the boundaries by fusing glass and metal together for years. The result? Luxurious bowls and vases that are chosen by interior designers across the globe for their unique look and stellar finishes. The Deco Mini Dessert Splash Bowl, the Deco Large Bowl, and the Deco Small Round Bowl have all received the coveted award, with the jury lauding praises for the impressive elegant design achieved through innovative glass coatings.
Journalist and Writer
Originally from New Zealand, Sophie Cullen is a freelance writer based in Hong Kong where she covers design, architecture, and travel stories. Previously, she helmed Perspective, Hong Kong’s premiere design and architecture magazine, and she is also the Founder of The Hotel Journal, a digital publication that champions exceptional hotel design across the globe.
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