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The Red Dot Design Award is arguably the most important design award given in the world today. It is awarded by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, a German organization. Since 1954, the Red Dot Design Award has been awarded to recipients from all over the world.
The Red Dot Design Award was begun in 1954, when the Haus Industrieform was established in Germany. They set out as their mission to “facilitate an appropriate design of the environment for the public at large.” Its mission was broad and challenging. Rather than simply seeking profit, it was to try to make the environment in the world more beautiful, to help Germany’s export market recover, and to promote simple and clear design aesthetics. In fact, part of its foundation was as a protest to “the uglification of the world.”
Only two years after its foundation, the designs shown as a part of the Red Dot Design Award were attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors. In the late-1960s it underwent something of a crisis, as the world in many ways recoiled from the idea of what was perceived as glorifying consumption. The Red Dot Design Award responded, and it adapted to fit the feeling of the era.
As the important role of design became more and more apparent in the modern world, the prestige of the Red Dot Design Award increased. It grew into an international award, and in 2005 opened a design center in Singapore, helping to make it more a global player. Award winners of the Red Dot Design Award: Design Concept are shown in the design museum in Singapore.
There are three awards that make up the larger Red Dot Design Award. The original award, the Product Design award, is probably the best known of these. It allows competitors in a wide range of manufacturing design, including car design, furniture design, and appliance design. The Red Dot Design Award: Product Design also includes a Design Team award, which seeks to acknowledge truly exceptional design teams. Past winners include the design teams at BMW and Apple Computers.
The Red Dot Design Award: Communication Design is a more recent design award, which was established in 1993. The communication award is given for non-manufacturing fields of design, such as advertising, sound design, and corporate design. Although other prestigious awards exist for most of these fields, the Red Dot name nonetheless gives this award some amount of cachet.
The most recent of the Red Dot Design Awards is the Design Concept Award. This is given for entire conceptual designs, not just specific products or product lines. This award was established in 2005, and so has not had much time to make a name for itself in the world. However, as few larger conceptual awards exist, it is already a coveted award.
Originally there were very few applicants to the Red Dot Design Award competition, and these low numbers remained through the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s the numbers began to increase, and in recent years the numbers have swelled drastically. In 2007 there were more than 3800 applicants for the Communication Design award, with 336 winners, and more than 2500 applicants for the Product Design award, with 623 winners.
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