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The Winners‘ Volition

“You are just afraid to face the criticism!“ Professor Peter Zec, the father of the internationally renowned and apparently quite sought-after “red dot design award“, fully hit me with his easily-made comment.

“You are just afraid to face the criticism!“ Professor Peter Zec, the father of the internationally renowned and apparently quite sought-after red dot design award, fully hit me with his easily-made comment. 

Was I really afraid?

There were many reasons for me to not having taken part in all the design award competitions during the last 25 years. 

It was mainly the knowledge that in most of these competitions fair assessments were prevented by unwritten arrangements that were made behind the scenes. I was, furthermore, quite surprised that over the years prizes seemed to be awarded for an increasing amount of absolutely not marketable products. The huge amount of available awards seemed to rather end in themselves than to be of any meaning. Moreover: Bemedalled egocentric people in this sector of business with their oversized designer glasses (sic!), pink ties and yellow shoes did not make the whole topic easier to me either..  

Zec looked at me for quite a while, grinning. “Come on, why don’t you register for the red dot award. You will see that we are totally different from all the other cans that you can win!“

Different? What should be different with this award? Like with all the others, this commission would also consist of three old friends sitting over some Prosecco, deliberating on who would be the winner this time, wouldn’t it? Was the red dot award really like the Formula1 business where only the best, most hard-working and hardest fighting team with an exceptionally-gifted driver manages to be a few seconds faster and to then stand on the winner’s rostrum? Was the red dot award in the end the Formula1 of all design award competitions? 

The professor bent his head contemplatively. “Have a look at the recent years‘ red dot winners: Apple, Hilti, Loewe, Rolls Royce, Mercedes, vitra, Thonet, i.e. the best of the best. All excellent sales people. The jury goes by strict, tough assessment criteria, believe me. You really have to be excellent.” 

As you can imagine, his words did not really convince me. Did having been awarded with a red dot really mean to belong to the best of the best? Would this little red dot really make all the big difference?  

I travelled to Essen, to the 2010 red dot award ceremony. On stage, we saw an enthusiastic Hilti team with red construction machinery, breaking down a block wall in no time. These people had won the red dot for an outstanding team performance and achievement. The Great Hall of the Aalto Theatre was occupied to the limit, and 1‘200 illustrious guests celebrated Hilti’s boys and girls. A big party was going on in the hall. The following party at the “red dot design museum Germany“, a museum that had been newly-arranged by Sir Norman Foster, ended at 4 o’clock in the morning. It was a glittering party night. The professor smoked a cigar and looked tired but content! Hilti made it to the end of the night, and so did I.  

So, what was it that I was afraid of?

Master Zec’s words came to my mind again when I received an email informing me of the registration deadline for the 2011 red dot design award. I rang Peter Zec spontaneously to tell him I was prepared and ready to face the criticism in 2011. “I knew you would be!“, was his short answer. 

The following procedure was by far more complex and time-consuming than what I had expected. Photos were sent in, texts written, forms filled in and – to my big surprise – we had to even bring an original sample of our furniture system to Essen to be assessed by the international jury consisting of 25 people. What an effort just for a little red dot! To my mind came a moody remark that Niki Lauda once had made, saying that he had established his own airline only because he had wanted to stop driving in a circle. 

The will to win?

When I received the information that Eileen & Frank had been awarded with the red dot, I felt a little bit like Niki Lauda. 

The winners‘ volition! 

Andy Andresen

Dot/in German “Punkt“: The German word (MHG pun[c]t ...) stems from the late Latin punctus (same meaning), in old Lat. punctum. The Latin word literally means “the punctured, the puncture; punctured [punctuation] mark, etc.“

Red/in German “rot“: Together with related terms in most of the other Indo-Germanic languages, the general Germanic colour adjective MHG, OHG. rôt, got. raups, ... goes back to the Indo-Germanic root reudh- German “rot“

red dot: The red dot is a prize awarded by the red dot design award committee, an internationally recognized design competition for products established by the North Rhine-Westphalian Design Centre which has been existing already since 1955. In the year 2000, the award was renamed from Design Innovations in red dot award. The degree of innovation, a product’s functionality as well as its ecological compatibility are among the jury’s assessment criteria. 

AAndres: Swiss high-end manufacturer of Eileen & Frank, the modular furniture system designed and developed by Andy Andresen within a three years’ time-period.

Andy Andresen: A Swiss designer with German and French roots. In 1990, he became famous over night with his trendy MINOL design. As a designer and creator, he took part in a design award competition for the first time after 25 years. 

Eileen & Frank: A modular furniture system awarded with the red dot design award 2011



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