Design Competitions Ross Kimbarovsky | April 20th, 2009

Starting today, buyers on crowdSPRING can post projects for industrial design (product design and packaging design).

To launch the industrial design category, we’ve teamed with LG Mobile Phones and Autodesk® on Design The Future – an $80,000+ design competition to define the future of personal mobile communications. This competition invites you to design your vision of the next revolutionary LG mobile phone. Predict what’s next.  What do you think mobile phones should look like in 2, 5, or 10 years?

Design competitions have been held throughout history, in many industries.


photo by judepicsThe Sydney Opera House – The competition to design the Sydney Opera House was launched on September 13, 1955. A total of 233 entries (from 32 countries) were received. Danish architect, Jørn Utzon was selected as the winner and received £5,000 – the prize in the competition. Prior to this competition, Utzon had entered eighteen design competitions and had won seven, but none of his other designs entered in design competitions had ever been built. Renowned architect Frank Gehry said of Utzon’s design:

Utzon made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinary malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country. It is the first time in our lifetime that such an epic piece of architecture gained such universal presence.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most distinctive buildings of the 20th century – and one of the most famous performing arts venues in the world.

The Tribune Tower – In 1922, the Chicago Tribune hosted an international design competition – for the design of its headquarters. A total of 260 entries were received. New York architects John Mead Howells and Raymond Hood were selected as the winner and awarded the $50,000 prize.

The World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition – In April 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation launched a competition to design the world trade center site memorial. A total of 5,201 entries (from 63 countries) were received. Architects Michael Arad and Peter Walker won the competition with their “Reflecting Absence” design.

Graphic Design

365: AIGA Annual Design Competition – The AIGA, the professional association for design, has a long history of design competitions. In the 2009 competitions, for example, participants could enter their designs in numerous categories, including branding, entertaining, experimenting, informing, packaging and promoting. Additional awards are given for social relevance and sustainability effort.

The Communication Arts Design Competition – Any design project printed, published or aired for the first time within the last twelve months prior to June 1, 2009 is eligible for this competition.

Product Design

Electrolux Design Lab 2009 – Electrolux holds a competition for undergraduate and graduate industrial design students – asking them to create home appliances that help shape how people will do chores around the house over the next nine decades. A total of $10,000 Euro will be awarded.

One Good Chair 2009 Design Competition – this competition asks designers to create an iconic “eco-chair” that embodies and enhances a particular place (examples are the Adirondack chair and the Charleston jobbling bench). There will be cash awards (yet to be announced) and prototypes of the finalist entries may be built.

Other Competitions

X Prize – An X Prize is a $10 million+ award given to a person or team first to achieve a specific goal that could potentially benefit humanity. For example, the Ansari X prize – $10 million – was awarded in 2004 to a private venture that was first to build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people twice within two weeks, to 100 kilometers above the earth’s surface. A total of 26 teams competed for the Ansari X prize (and spent a combined $100 million).

The Netflix Prize – This competition, started by Netflix in October 2006, seeks to improve the accuracy of predicting how much someone will love a movie, based on their preferences in rating other movies. Netflix is offering a grand prize of $1 million to the person or team who can improve Netflix’s own algorithm for predicting ratings, by 10%. Tens of thousands of teams from around the world are taking part in the competition. Already, five teams are very close to the grand prize.

You can find various design competitions at core77, HOW, Dexigner, and here, among many other places.

Have you ever participated in a design competition? Please tell us about your experience in the comments.

Photo of Sydney Opera House by judepics

From many minds, the perfect design. Post your project today and let the crowd wow you!

  • ArtbyAudree

    My brother and I entered the World Trade Center Site Memorial contest. He had a great concept of two statues of the Trade centers 110′ tall surrounded by a grassy incline. It was a simple and beautiful idea, and I produced the drawings. We are not architects, but we wanted to present the idea to the committee. We were treated with great respect, and invited to an event in Chicago that displayed the entries from the area, and had speakers from the selection committee.

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