IDSA Awards vs Core77

I’m curious why the annual bashing of IDEA award winners isn’t taking place? It’s been a ritual for as long as I can remember.
Did they finally get it right? and across the board? - or does simply nobody care? What gives?

I can’t argue that Core’s awards have eclipsed the IDEA because there seems to be general apathy here on the boards as well. Did Core get it right across the board?

surely someone has an opinion…

I was a juror for this years Core77 awards. It is only the second year and I’m impressed with how organized they were and how they were always rolling bits of info out.

ok, I won’t ask you to evaluate Core’s any more.
how about IDSA’s awards, any improvements in their results, or just more of the same scattershot approach.
Or why do you think the usual complaints aren’t cropping up?

I simply don’t care about the IDSA awards, they’ve fallen off my radar completely. However, I do enjoy the humor of seeing their ridiculous/terrible winners. Always good for a laugh.

So many years of horrific designs for winners, potential bribery, and poor execution as a competition overall… I just stopped caring.

For me, the IDSA competition is about as credible as “great product design list” by a writer for a magazine about fireplaces.

interesting, ID Magazine was never fully capable of earning the respect of the widely varied and international professions they gave awards to. Like graphic design, as an example - they went too broad in an attempt to stay relevant.

I feel the two (IDSA and Core) are a bit apples and oranges, which is appropriate given how broad the profession is, but I wonder if more organizations with more award programs aren’t simply diluting the feild. Cooper Hewitt says this is the best product but IDSA says another is and Core awards it to that - don’t we all end up looking like we don’t know what we’re talking about?!

Not at all, it is totally fair game. It is an interesting progression.

The IDSA awards are given by an organization run by designers
The ID Magazine awards are given by a defunct publication run by journalists and publishers
The Core77 awards are given by a website run by a collective of designers

Will an award given by a website named something as tangental as core77 have cred?

In a way, I think it is more meaningful as a designer. Most of the jurors are not uber stars, but other practicing designers.

Jury selection is interesting but I think less critical to the outcome. the traditional process was a half dozen guys in a hotel ballroom (plus thier ego’s) with thousands of submittals and a day and a half to reach a list of winners. A hundred juries would always come to a hundred different conclusions that way. How does Core do it?

I always found it a bit odd to see awards given to regular advertizers in ID magazine. Not that it ever influenced results, but the credibility of awards from a for-profit organization is something Core may have to consider down the road.

However IDSA re-invents itself, the awards are key. The design specialties all will continue to have their recongition systems but the IDSA (and ID Mag awards) were the one thing that brought the entire profession together - even if it was just to disagree. This year I see only apathy. Here on the boards and around the office.

I think it’s likely that more awards are coming, I could easily see Designboom or Yanko driving more.
But ultimatly just muddy-ing the water with more variations of who wins and why.

So should IDSA simply recognize the ongoing segmentation and not try to be all things to all designers with the award?

I realize it may be economically unfeasible, but it would be interesting to have a design competition without a $100+ entry fee. That hurdle may be keeping some small independent designers from entering their designs. Of course larger corporations don’t blink at the fees because it comes out of the “marketing budget”, but smaller designers see the entry fees differently - which limits the pool of candidates for the awards.

Another possibility is a competition with crowd-sourced nominations. Reverse the flow of entries.

It is highly distributed. Each category has a jury captain who leads the selection of a full jury for that category. The jury captain then recruits the rest of the jury for that category, usually 3-4 others. Jurors are approved by core77. They then get together in the facility of the jury captain’s choosing to review only their own category. So the Jury is much larger and stacked with specialists from each particular category.

For example, I led the softgoods category this year. I selected 3 other accomplished softgoods designers in my region, each with a slightly different flavor. We got together at my apartment for a day and reviewed our category, established a selection criteria, selected winners and notables, then got back together a month later to broadcast the results live.

I think another way to put it, is that the people judging the Core77 Design Awards are my professional peers. Professionals actually working within the industry whom I personally respect, and who’s opinions I respect and value.

Is that different from the IDSA? I’ve known many IDEA jurors which have ranged from my professors, former co-workers, and even former classmates.

I may not always agree with the results (in fact I often don’t) but I never consider that as a result of the jury. Often times it’s difficult to explain the depth/complexity of some problems that were solved on products, and sometimes people just gravitate to “Widgets”. (Like I don’t think a USB flash drive should ever have won a IDEA award just for being “shaped” differently).

I think once you get down to it, most awards in general are a level of “paid corporate PR Lottery” if you happen to get picked you’ll wind up spending several thousand dollars, and then get to use it as PR for your product or design group. It’s nice to think that Core is offering a slightly different take, but the fact is all it takes is 1 or 2 different jury members to Champion your design and get it an award, whereas otherwise it may just go overlooked.

Perhaps you’ve solved my question, Cyber. Too many “flash drive” wigdet award winners have destryed the credability of the award system. (Can’t agree more on that one, last year an iPhone accessory was best in Consumer Electronics)
And what we’re left with is essntially the Grammy’s - a Paid Corporate PR Lottery (that’s a classic! can I borrow that?)

How about an extended or lifetime Jury appointment? could the right individuals be above the subjective nature of the award process and stay relevant with developments over time?

Awards are a strange dichotomy, when you win, you generally think you earned it and that your work has been validated, but when you see something you felt was undeserving win, you think the awards are trivial or meaningless. I typically look forward to the announcement every year, but this year just wasn’t that exciting. When the IDEA awards were still associated with Businessweek, I would look through the slideshow then the magazine when it came out. Looking through on the website the way they are all segmented and such just doesn’t have the same impact, the experience pretty much sucks.

There was so much communication with the Core77 awards that I stopped reading and never really caught when everything was done, I couldn’t tell if they were announcing awards by individual category or what. I wasn’t trying very hard to keep up mind you, but I just wanted a few communications to tell me what was happening and it just seemed like so much going. I didn’t finally go back to look at anything until I saw this thread. I watched the jury video from the Softgoods category. It was nice to hear all the commentary and hear the jury’s thoughts on each project in a nice digest format, wondering if the video could have had bookmarks for all the different projects so it would be easier to navigate / jump around etc.

In general, I guess I am just a little less interested in following the awards than I was when I was a student or younger designer. The jury video aspect and all the videos for the projects being available is cool though and I think I will be going back to check some more of those out.

Awards are a funny thing a they are generally self-selecting. That is, you must enter to win, so the winners are not necessarily the best X, but the X that was entered.

Something that I always thought was strange as well in the core awards and others (not sure about the IDSA awards), is that the awards are judged by photos only. You can’t even send in the product. I have no idea how a product can be evaluated by photos, descriptions and a video when so much about many products are the feel, function, details, etc.


The IDSA and some other design awards require sending in a product if you were selected as a finalist. That gives some more validity since people can experience your product. What stinks is IIRC Red Dot and possibly some others require you to pay a hefty fee (several thousand USD from what I remember) if you want to get in “The book”

At the IDEA gallery at the conferences you can always see that designers are picking up and playing with everything - you’re right, the satisfying click of a quality locking mechanism is enough to make something award worthy vs junk IMO.

As a juror, this is very frustrating. Take this notable that we selected, thankfully there was a video, but it would have been much better to feel it.

2008 was the first year the IDEA awards started asking for physical product and it definitely felt great when I read that experiencing the prototype we sent that year (it was a concept / not in production) was a huge part of why we were selected as winners.

I remember around 2004 after not winning a Red Dot (or similar) for our submissions, the company I worked for had some really cool photos done and won with pretty much the same product the next year, we realized that many of the competitions at that point were almost product photography (or rendering) competitions. Video is a lot better, but I worry that without the ability to evaluate real product you will end up feeling like much the same, but a product video competition.

The self selection for entry aspect always seemed a bit weird to me too. I don’t believe the Brit Insurance Design Awards are this way, they seem to have curators watching what is going on and proactively contact people, they also tend not to charge any fees other than for you to ship your product for display. This being said, I believe their curation process is at least influenced by the other awards, so it’s not like they aren’t partially effected by the self selection phenomena entirely.

never heard of the Brit Insurance award, but it seems like a good approach.
Perhaps if IDSA could get all the special interest sections to do annual surveys and create a nominations list for the juries…?

But how do they make any money? Isn’t that what awards are really about?


it’d be interesting to know how much of thier operating income is generated by the award submittal fees.
Certainly membership would go have to go up, with greater participation in the sections.

I think not announcing the award winners (just the finalists) until the actual awards ceremony would drive attendance to thier main conference - which is, as they’ve stated, their main goal and benefit.

I don’t know what the final solution for IDSA is, perhaps Gov’t funded like the Design Councl in Britan, or, what would happen if they went to a for-profit business model…?