Honouring Innovations in Sustainability and Social Responsibility for the Fourth Edition 

Distributed Design Platform, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, serves to re-think local manufacturing, with the advancements of digital tech and the internet in mind, has launched the fourth edition of their annual European-wide open competition. The 2021 Awards, will recognise the most innovative and sustainably designed projects across Europe and is supported by IDEO U, SPACE10, The Index Project and Craftbot.

The platform was borne out of the climate crisis, which has raised questions about the nature and culture of the products we buy. By undertaking research and development into alternatives to mass-production, focusing on the movement of data and the use of local supply chains, an alternative movement of production is now burgeoning. These new models, such as the maker movement, provide consumers more control over their products by allowing them a voice in the overall production process. Distributed Design Platform acts as an exchange and networking hub for the European maker movement, aiming to develop and promote the connection between designers, makers and the market.

Participation in the Awards is limited to projects designed within Europe by designers based in any country of the European Union or countries that participate in the Creative Europe Programme. From 1-30 April, submissions are open to anyone working in the creative disciplines dealing with Design and Making: creative players, makers, designers, artists, architects, scientists, students and others. This year’s jury is looking for projects that should be at least in the production stage, already prototyped/ tested or fully realised. Designs submitted to the Open Call must reflect at least two of the four core principles of the distributed design model, jury members will assess the projects individually during each phase using this criteria, which includes:  

  • Distributable: The design can travel globally to be manufactured locally.
  • Reproducible: The design takes local availability into account and is based on globally available materials and hardware.
  • Valuable: The design creates value for people, companies and/or society.
  • Design Sensitive: A sensitivity is brought to the aesthetics and application of the design.

The Awards process then comprises three judging phases to ensure optimisation, consistency and fairness, these include;

  • First Round: 36 pre-selected –  each juror (a representative of each of the 18 Distributed Design partners members) will select two projects and assign them to one category resulting in nine projects per category (36 in total).  
  • Second Round: 12 finalists – the best among the 36 pre-selected projects. The Distributed Design coordination team at Fab Lab Barcelona at IAAC makes a shortlist of 12 projects for the final round. Each juror (seven in total) has three votes per category. The three most voted projects per category (12 in total) are shortlisted for the final round. 
  • Final Round: Three winners and one winner of the winners –  each Advisory Board member (six in total) of the Distributed Design Platform will select one project from the three of each award category, and propose one of those four projects as the winner among the winners. The most voted project of each category will receive the award. 

From these judging rounds, selected projects will also be awarded: 

People’s Choice: One winner – the public will have the chance to vote for their favourite project online during the month of May. The voting system will be announced on Distributed Design Platform’s social media channels

The jury will also select the best among all the projects awarded and recognise this with the Project Excellence Award. This presentation will tackle all four core principles of the distributed design model: Open, Ecosystemic, Sustainable and Supportive. A prize of 2.000 € in funding will be awarded to further develop and promote the project. 

The Awards also includes four distinct categories; all projects will compete in each of the following:

  • Future Thinking: Design for a better future, considering social and cultural challenges and human wellbeing. The winner will be awarded a SPACE10 mentorship.
  • Responsible Design: Design that engages circular design principles such as responsible materials. It draws on the capacity of local materials and or knowledge, including craft or specialist processes. The winner will be awarded IDEO U Designing a Business course – a chance to gain practical business design skills from expert IDEO practitioners. 
  • Adaptable & Open Design: Design that is made open source, is transparent and/or allows for adaptation and/or customisation. The winner will be awarded The Index Project mentorship, which supports entrepreneurs to develop better solutions.
  • People’s Choice: Design recognised by people and the Distributed Design network online/ the most voted entry. The winner will be awarded a Craftsbot Flow 3D printer. 

This year’s jury is made up of international distributed design experts on each assessing round, representing 17 high-profile cultural and design institutions total, these are Stichting Pakhuis de Zwijger, P2P Lab, Re:Publica, Happy Lab Vienna, Danish Design Centre, NYSKOPUNARMIDSTOD ISLANDS, Copenhagen Maker, Espacio Open, Polifactory, Politecnico Milano, Ars Longa – Fab City Store, Fred and Company – Other Today, FabLab Budapest, Open Dot, Tal Tech, Plitécnico de Lisboa, MAO and Paved with Gold

 Kate Armstrong, Distributed Design Platform Project Lead commented: «The Distributed Design Award attracts designers who are looking to expand the design discipline beyond aesthetics by embracing the potential of design to contribute to a more just, equal, democratic world. Submissions range from product to service design, and cover diverse sectors from food service, to health care, to fashion and product design. The international nature of the award provides all participants the opportunity to share their work widely, and winners have been able to develop their projects through business training, mentorship, and promotion

Last year’s Awards saw 170 open call entries in total. A special Design in Emergency category was created to directly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and emergencies to come. See a full list of 2020 winners here

Distributed Design Award 2019.

The Distributed Design Platform is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. It celebrates, supports and inspires these professionals from across Europe and provides opportunities to support the mobility and circulation of their work to connect them with new, digital markets. The initiative consists of both online and offline activities such as events, resources, workshops, fairs and bootcamps that promote and advocate for emerging creative talent in Europe and their business productivity and sustainability, visit the platform here.

For further information and a timeline for the Open Call see here.

XVII International Contemporary Ceramics Award
LOEWE FOUNDATION / Studio Voltaire Award