Flame: Greener Gadgets Competition: FAILURE.

Okay… I am writing this anonymously, as I don’t want to be labeled as a poor sport. However, for the record I am a semi-finalist… but I’m losing horribly to completely terrible entries.

I do not understand this part of the contest. You post the top 50 entries online, forcing people to send the link to their friends and family, to vote for their entry. This immediately becomes not a design contest, but a popularity contest. This forces anybody who wants to compete to whore themselves out, post the link on messageboards, forums, blogs, and everywhere they can think of to try to get more votes.

Currently, the ‘most popular’ entries are a complete insult to what industrial design is supposed to be. They completely ignore user research, materials, production, shipping, and the end of product life-cycle, all issues paramount to truly “green” design. They instead settle for a pretty rendering with a very vague description of how something actually works. This is a complete joke.
Many of them, like the rocking chair that generates power, just point out the ignorance of the designer and their failure to understand how much energy will be generated by their device, and how much energy is required to do what they want to do. They completely ignore electrical theories and the laws of physics. They just seem to think, “I know, I’ll use a solar panel on this, and that will create the power for it!” Nevermind the fact that size of the solar panel is much too small, or the fact that solar panels produce DC power, and your product requires AC.

Some of them don’t even make any sense, for instance, the BeWare Water Meter. What a terrible design! It’s a big green thing you supposedly screw onto every faucet in your home, thread it onto every water hose on your toilet, and install it on every shower head. You’d need over 5 of them for the average dwelling, more for larger houses, and on top of being a very complex (read LOTS OF ENERGY TO PRODUCE) design using an impellor, generator, LCD, electronics), all the thing does is INFORM the user. It does not reduce usage, it does not make anything more efficient, the entire complicated, wouldn’t-work-in-real-life system does it just show how much is being used! Oh, and let’s just show a generic fitting that magically fits flexible pipes, threaded metal faucets, and shower hosers. This generic fitting is able to adapt to anything, without leaking! Oh, and let’s completely ignore how much of a PITA it would be to install properly without leaking. Also, can we just totally ignore how much power would be produced by the teeny tiny impellor? I mean, I only spent a few minutes on google and found out that kid’s experimental water wheels don’t even make enough power to light ONE L.E.D., but hey, this one has a magical impellor! This is incredibly retarded!!!

No user research. No mention of materials. No mention of environmental impact. Just a complete and total failure. And why is it number one?

Well, one explanation may be that the COUNTRY is listed under each entry. Thus, anyone who feels proud of their nation’s heritage may immediately vote for an entry purely based on it’s country of origin, and ignore any merit of the actual idea. Why is this listed? How is this supposed to be an unbiased voting system, when such information may sway voters? If it were a fair competition, such as the Housewares competition, the judges only see the entry, and a number. They do not know the name, location, or any personal information of the designer, forcing them to consider the idea itself.

I am all for a good competition, but so far this is turning into a gigantic insult to the industrial design community. The point of the contest was to design products that lower our impact, use sustainable materials, and offer consumers alternatives to make them more efficient and less wasteful. Half the ideas don’t save anything, they inform the user of usage (be that of power or water, whatever), some of them are just plain awful (the stoplight that shows CO2 levels is currently in 2nd place?! WTF!), and as cool as the fastronauts entry may look, a vinyl toy with a freakin light on it is not going to change ANYTHING in today’s world!

Lastly… the voting system is extremely flawed. I am not going to explain how, but one person can vote for their entry an infinite number of times. There is no registration system to prevent this, and I have a feeling that many of the top entries are abusing this. So now the question is… does one fall in line with the cheaters, and vote for themselves a few hundred times to remain competitive? Or do you just let the cheating entries make the top 10, and remain a loser, allowing horribly designed products to represent “Green Design” to the world, having no chance at actual production since they SUCK so much?

PS: There are good entries. They just aren’t winning. To those of you who actually submitted something with user research, a thought to production, environmental impact, materials, and the NEED to solve an actual problem, congrats. You are the true winners in my book, despite what this incredibly stupid contest is saying.

If that’s true, that’s too bad. At least if your own work is strong, it will be a good portfolio piece.

Maybe this will be taken into account by the final judges? Do they need to choose from the top 10? Could they choose from any of the 50?

I’m not even thinking about mine (it won’t win), but I hope they don’t rush the finalists this year like they did last year. I’d like to hear them talk about mine. Not a revolution, but something that is a little overdue. Last year (from watching the video), they barely got a chance to discuss the pros, cons, and ramifications of each design. It was way too rushed. I’d like to see a panel discussion, not a semi-thought out judging.

This is the problem I have with a lot of design schools. It seems like they put little emphisis on the really important elements of design. I have given freelance work to some young recently graduated designers and most of the time I get back completely unusable ideas. Shipping, materials, construction techniques are all ignored, when the reality is those elements drive the final design of ANYTHING that ever actually gets produced.

I think all design contests have very quick, superficial judging. Don’t complain about it. Either get involved in a contest or accept the reality.

Product lifecycle analysis is incredibly difficult even when you know every detail about all of the constituent materials and manufacturing processes. There is no way the voting public can possibly be expected to understand and effectively evaluate conceptual designs against “green” design criteria. Relying on votes does seem to be a fundamental flaw in such a technically specific competition.

A panel of judges comprised of the leaders of green design would be a step in the right direction.

Industrial designers need to recognize that nice renderings or cosmetic models are not products.

I’m surprised the Designers Accord doesn’t have a little to do with the judging… they seem to be everywhere over the last year and wouldn’t look at the entries so much in a superficial way

opening the voting the public is asking for questionable results

If I shouldn’t complain here, to Core77, who should I complain to? I do not understand your viewpoint. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you aren’t critical of anything, nothing improves. I am pointing out major flaws in this contest.

I stopped taking this competition seriously. I remember last year somebody submitted a design that was nothing, as in “more gadgets pollute the world, so I’m not designing anything,” and it made it in the top 50. When I saw that I was very close to throwing my computer monitor across the room.

^ wow, that’s funny! It’s a valid concern, but a finalist for a design contest?!?

Or like the shower floor that becomes unstable when you stay in too long, forcing you to slip and fall, breaking hips and cracking skulls because you wasted too much water.

Yup gotta agree with mr-914.

A large percentage of compeitions are judged superficially especially in my mind greener gadgets. It has allready been mentioned on here about the person who said my design is nothing because we allready have to much stuff. After seeing that and watching the live judgin the first time round with the “clap o meter” it was soon made clear this isn’t a particuarly serious competition.

Know what your entering, if the red dot was done like this then yes maybe cause for concern but it’s not.

So my advice would be that be happy that you are proactive enough to enter a competition, that you were shortlisted and you now have one extra piece in your portfolios.

It’s easy to get worked up but thats the reality of ANY public competition. I can think of plenty of competitions like the Microsoft Next Gen competition where public voting really is just whichever design people like the looks of the most. It doesn’t matter if the design is impossible, if it evokes an emotional response someone will click the button on it.

Lets face it, if you want a real design award you have to PAY a fee to the IDEA, IF, or whatever other association to actually sit down, look at, and talk about a physical design. That way theres no BS about is it manufacturable, etc. They’re also paying a panel of judges to spend several hours critiquing, discussing, and reviewing all of these designs side by side.

In a free competition like this you’re just hoping to get some internet feedback on your design. The whole concept of Green is really just designer speak for “lets think of an idea that might help the planet” - so you have to expect a lot of blue sky, totally unfeasable projects. When you’re the pragmatic designer you’re sure to get upset about this.

Ultimately you realize the world is cold and unfair, and if the competition did anything it made a bunch of students and amatuers get off their butts and build a nice portfolio piece that a bunch of people can say “Greener Gadgets Competition Finalist” on their resumes, and hopefully get some good publicity.

By the way, don’t think the people with the blue sky ideas go un noticed. Last years finalist, the electricty from magic lamp was HEAVILY torn apart all over the internet. Everywhere from Core to Slashdot was ripping the design apart. If anything you can take pride in the fact that you’re not the only one who disagrees with these things, and hope that some of the winners actually deserve it.

I have no problem with that, but ADVERTISE THE CONTEST AS SUCH. State that manufacturing, sustainable materials, proof of concept, shipping, and if the thing actually would work DON’T MATTER. State that you want pretty pictures that have no basis on the real world, and you will compete publicly for the most popular project, ie, who has the most friends on the internet.

Say that, and I won’t have a problem with it.

But if they advertise it as one thing, then completely IGNORE everything they just stated, F*CK THEM. That is false advertising, bait and switch, etc. A is A. Don’t try to say one thing but pick something else.

To gain that knowledge takes time, lots of it, and face it old knowledgeable designers are the first kicked to the curb…ya i am bitter.

I don’t blame ya for being bitter. It seems to be an epidemic. That’s why when people ask on these posts whether they should go back to school for ID I tell them to try getting an entry level job first. If your design work is really solid a portfolio can work its magic. There is NO guarantee that a job awaits you once you finish paying out tens of thousands of dollars for that piece of paper. I’d rather see a piece of paper with a really great sketch or render on it! I know it probably helps alot to go to school if you have no idea what you’re doing, but I’ve always felt that ID is really a talent driven field. You either have it or you don’t. If design schools don’t at least emphasize the real world issues that a designer deals with then it is just a glorified art school.

As far as gaining knowledge over time, I’ve only been doing this for four years but I caught onto it for sure! Every dollar counts when you want to bring a product to market. You better know how to save a few!

Those who kick the knowledgeable designers to the curb suffer in the end.

I haven’t seen the brief as it was originally posted, did the original brief actually have anything involving what you just stated in it? All I saw was this:

Design BriefWe invited designers to explore the concept of “Greener Gadgets.” Designs sought to minimize the environmental impact of consumer electronic devices at any stage in the product lifecycle. Areas of sustainability to consider included energy, materials/lifecycle/recycling, social impact, and educational development. Designers could focus on a particular area of human enterprise (learning, playing, communicating, etc.) or a particular context (work, home, school, etc.), a particular material, or a specific device. Entries could also seek to create new paradigms for products and services

As far as I can tell the manufacturing, materials, etc weren’t part of that. If thats the case then none of those blue sky projects techincally violated anything. They just didn’t take into consideration those issues. Not saying it makes them better, but you can’t be mad if it wasn’t part of the brief.

Competitions like this are often designed to encourage bluesky ideas. Even if 200 blue sky ideas are crap, if 1 is actually a legitimately good idea then the competition is worthwhile.

If you put the entire world of real world limitations on a student oriented competition a lot of them will either research things that aren’t actually true, or make up things that they think are true. Stinks, but lets face it thats what the real world is for. If I had to spend my time in college focusing on mold flow analysis’ and regulatory specifications I would’ve switched majors! :laughing:

I understand your frustration since I’ve been that bitter man before. Just take it for what it is, give feedback in a constructive (ie less cursing) way, and consider everything from an outside perspective. At the end of the day being pissed about it just gives you agita and doesn’t actually change anything.

Design competitions are lame.

They always seem to only benefit the sponsor of the competition. They should be more like a raffle, where you give five bucks and your design is chosen at random. That way, when some random, horrible idea is chosen for the winner, there are no questions about how they won, it was drawn out of a hat!

Oh, and for the record, other threads on the Core77 forums suggest entering design competitions to try and help people land jobs. Am I the only one who sees all the people arguing against design competitions and their merits and sit there thinking that those kinds of points should be made when people are encouraging struggling designers to put all the time and effort into producing entries to be judged?

Oh, and for the record, I have done well in a design competition before and it did absolutely nothing for me. Sure it felt great to win, but that is where the reward ended. So, I say enter any competition for fun ONLY, and don’t expect anything out of it except something cool to show your friends and family if you win. That, and NEVER, I repeat NEVER, pay to be judged by someone else in a design competition. If you really think that by paying to enter, you will gain something by it, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I would like to sell you…

What did you expect from a public vote? I always avoid competitions that are judged by a voting system, I feel it devalues the competition, especially if you’re allowed multiple votes. And you’re always going to get people getting everyone they know plus more to vote for them. That’s just the way it goes.

But I don’t think ‘‘design competitions are lame’’.

I think design competitions should really be entered to test and challenge yourself, improve your skills resulting in a good project for the portfolio. Winning is a bonus, it shouldn’t be the sole reason you enter. For a student it provides a decent brief (most of the time) with a deadline, it’s motivating and provides you with a project that separates you from your classmates.

Oh, and for the record, I have done well in a design competition before and it did absolutely nothing for me. Sure it felt great to win, but that is where the reward ended.

What exactly did you want? Surely you learnt a bit and improved on some skills?

Read what I just bolded. It is right there in front of you.

If you put the entire world of real world limitations on a student oriented competition a lot of them will either research things that aren’t actually true, or make up things that they think are true. Stinks, but lets face it thats what the real world is for. If I had to spend my time in college focusing on mold flow analysis’ and regulatory specifications I would’ve switched majors! > :laughing: >

Student oriented? I see two entries by Frog Design, and quite a few as school projects. And just because it is student work doesn’t mean it is all blue sky make believe crap, I am a student, and frankly this is kind of insulting. Yes, the morons who don’t understand basic ANYTHING are failures as industrial design students, but saying that basically means you are catering to the lowest possible denominator. Choosing bluesky ideas as “winners” that would never work in real life only rewards incompetence and makes the rest of the world view industrial designers as “people who make things look pretty but don’t understand how anything works”. Do you WANT to further that sentiment? Then by all means, keep picking bluesky entries as winners.