Hookah Design Contest - $1000 Grand Prize

Hi Designers,

We are challenging designers to come up with the most innovative and marketable hookah designs for our 2008 Hookah Design Contest.

You can check out the details here, http://www.hookahcompany.com/designcontest.html

1st Place $1,000
2nd Place $500
3rd Place $250

Best of Luck to all of you!

-Hookah Company


care to elaborate a bit more about what you are looking for?

in reviewing the “competition” brief it reads as though you are just soliciting designs on spec for production for a lower cost (the price $) than a designer would normally be paid for such a project. most designers object to this type of competition. if I am incorrect, please share your thoughts,



PS. previous topic on spec work here - Spec work

Seriously I had some trouble figuring out which one to put in “air quotes”…
Yet another clearly dodgy …design contest…

Just read the details: Submitted designs must be finished works. Rough designs will not be considered.

Word of advice, try to give a little respect to the profession and professionals you target.
Industrial design is not a second class act, cheap strategies will only lead you to cheap results.


From the application form:

All contestants, including the winners relinquish all ownership, right, title and/or interest in the design and any and all products derived directly or indirectly from the submitted design, including but not limited to prototypes and manufactured products, images, designs, patents, copyrights, royalties or any other right, title, or interest of any type or kind whatsoever.

So let’s be clear about this: the contest requires original work only, and the contestant relinquishes all legal rights to any submitted concepts, even if they are not selected.

This is a poorly designed, unfair contest. Best of luck getting any serious submissions.

If you’re curious what a good design competition entails, take a look here:


The idea behind the contest is to generate something new and marketable. The design should be focused on the aesthetics of the hookah and not engineering specs.

This contest is not about lowering our costs. It is about finding a great new design. We’ve gone the traditional route with designers before and haven’t gotten anything that really amazed us. Now we’re trying a design contest and hopefully, we’ll get something really unique.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether this is something that interests you or not. If you have a good idea and this competition appeals to you, we encourage you to give it a go.


good article. I must have missed that when originally posted. Of course not all comps are bad, but still it seems that students and others can get sucked in…like the lotto I guess (a tax for people bad at math).


Really… Certainly no one would ever harvest free designs, take ownership, then produce them royalty free. That would be unforeseen. I’m not saying you would do that, but that it could be done. Also it is wack to claim ownership over designs that did not win. (It is wack to claim it on ones that win as well).

you get what you pay for. best of luck.


At least throw the winners something to smoke out of one…jeez.

$1000 divided by $25/hr = 40 hours of work

My guess if you want to get anything that remotely resembles something that “amazes you” you might want to look at what value you believe “amazement” is worth.

You’re telling the (Design) world that you believe they’re worth (maybe) paying them a rate on par with a design grad…maybe with 2 years experience.

What will this “amazing” hookah provide to your company in terms of revenue?

$5000? $50,000? $500,000?

If it is anything less than $50,000 you’re ROI ratio is…as previously stated…“wack”.


I rarely see “amazing” work for less than $250/hr. That’s 4 hours of work–barely enough to get briefed on the problem much less do research, framing, ideation and presentation that is required for any design project.

I think “amazing” in this context should mean something like 2-4x more profit than a typical hookah because of the design alone. Divide the total annual profit for all sold by the $1000 investment, and you’re going to see a really, really tiny investment ratio.

For perspective, my company just opened a contest that offers $20,000 to the employee who can name our new spinoff. There’s a $5,000 consolation prize if they go with the ad-agency’s name instead. That’s worth spending some time on!

If you don’t have the cash, why not cut a royalty agreement instead?

touche, ip.

something to understand (both for competition makers entrants and companies, is there is pretty much only a few reasons why skilled people would want to enter a “good” competition (there’s also tons of crappy competitions out there and people with nothing better to do) -

  1. fortune (ie. $25,000 cash)
  2. fame (ie. a highly prestigious competition like IDSA awards, or one that gives lots of marketing exposure)
  3. portfolio work (ie. a good excuse to do some blue sky concepts, or work on something you normally don’t)

obviously sometimes it’s a combo of two or more of these factors. the entry fees, rules and scope for the competition should take these into account. That is, if you can win lots of cash, maybe a high entry fee is worth it. If you can get lots of exposure, maybe something less conceptual would still appeal. If it’s really fun, and a chance to do something different, maybe the work itself is the payoff.

not to beat a dead horse, but this competition is 0 for 3

  1. doesn’t pay much
  2. no marketing exposure
  3. not very conceptual/unique

0+0+0 = either not a lot of good quality entires or a general lack of interest. holding a competition can be a good thing, but it has to benefit both sides. this one, seems to be pretty lopsided in favoring the company to solicit cheap/free work.


Depends if it is before or after the use of a hookah. And I would guess something like sixty an eighth, but I don’t know about that stuff.

It appears… hookahcompany expected a bunch of schmucks on here to eagerly submit their hard-worked designs and go ga-ga over this “prestigious” contest.

The moderator feedback about this competition is quite interesting, seems they have ALOT to say about it.

One of the moderators claims that it doesn’t pay much. Out of curiosity, what’s the most money paid out from a 1 Hour Design Challenge?

And for the moderator who rarely sees amazing work for less than $250 an hour. What about work done for nothing in an hour?

And how much do you guys or gals actually know about HookaCompany.com for you to judge the impact of marketing exposure? How would you feel if they had ads running in High Times (an internet AND magazine publication I would challenge has a readership greater than Core77.com)?

And no, I’m not one of the schmucks who entered that competition.