IDEA 2011 Entry Process, Criteria & Process


To be eligible for IDEA 2011, the following criteria must be met:

Participant Qualifications

  • Open to designs and designers worldwide. Entrants from Brazil must apply through IDEA/Brasil at to take advantage of additional winner benefits.
  • Student entries can only be submitted in the student category, even if the design is in research, production or corporately funded.
  • If your entry didn't win last year and if the entry still meets all the other criteria it may be resubmitted.
  • Designs may be entered in multiple categories, but each entry must be purchased and submitted separately. Awards will not be given to the same design in more than one product category (e.g. Medical/Scientific and Home Living); however, a design may win awards in both a product category and design strategy, interactive product experiences and/or research.

Distribution qualifications

  • Products must have been placed in distribution between February 2009 and February 2011. This means the product must be available for sale in its final form to its intended end users through normal sales channels during that period.
  • Student entries must have been submitted to the school between February 2009 and February 2011.
  • Design concept entries must not be scheduled for production. If you are submitting a design concept, it must have been finalized or submitted to the client between February 2009 and February 2011.
  • Research designs must have been submitted to the client or school between February 2006 and February 2011.


The IDEA 2011 judging is based on the following criteria of industrial design excellence. These criteria are weighted by the judges as they deem appropriate for the category:

1. Innovation (design, experience, manufacturing)

2. Benefit to the user (performance, comfort, safety, ease of use, usability, user interface, ergonomics, universal function and access, quality of life, affordability)

3. Responsibility: Benefit to society, environment, culture and economy (improved accessibility to a greater percentage of the population, improves education, meets basic needs of low income populations, reduces disease, improves competitiveness, raises wealth, improves the quality of life, supports cultural diversity, improves energy efficiency, durability, addresses product lifecycle effects on the environment, uses low impact materials and processes throughout lifecycle, designed for repair/reuse/recyclability, addresses issues of toxicity, reduced material usage and waste reduction

4. Benefit to the client (profitability, increased sales, brand reputation, employee morale)

5. Visual appeal and appropriate aesthetics

6. Design Research Category Insights (usability, emotional factors, unmet needs) testing rigor and reliability

7. Design Strategy Category (internal factors and methods, strategic value and implementation)


Commercial & Industrial Products
Building Equipment & Systems / Heavy Machinery / Construction & Industrial Vehicles / Other equipment or tools / Concepts & Prototypes

Communication Tools
Phones and VOIP / Cell phones, smart phones, PDAs / Navigation devices / Earpieces & headsets / Accessories / Concepts & Prototypes

Computer Equipment
Desktops / Laptops, Notebooks, Ultra-mobiles / Servers & Housings / Portable Devices / Display screens, monitors & projectors / Input Devices / Peripherals / Concepts & Prototypes

Stereos, speakers / TVs, DVD players / Headphones / Cameras & Camcorders / Personal Audio Players / Accessories & Cable Management / Home Theater / Musical Instruments / Multimedia & Gaming Equipment / Multifunction Devices / Mobile Entertainment / Concepts & Prototypes

Corporate, Public & Private Spaces / Environmental Graphics & Signage Systems / Museum Exhibits & Set Designs / Showrooms & Retail Merchandising / Trade Show Exhibits / Street Lighting and Furniture / Concepts & Prototypes

Home Living
Appliances / Home & Decorative Accessories / Kitchen, Garden & Workshop Tools / Cutlery & Kitchenware / Residential Furniture & Lighting / Fixtures & Hardware / Concepts & Prototypes

Leisure & Recreation
Toys & Games / Sporting, Fitness & Camping Gear / Concepts & Prototypes

Medical & Scientific Products
Clinical & Diagnostic Products / Industrial & Scientific Products / Surgical & Therapeutic Products / Home-Care & Self-Care Products / Concepts & Prototypes

Office & Productivity
Supplies & Organizers / Equipment & Fixtures / Writing Instruments / Office Furniture & Lighting / Concepts & Prototypes

Personal Accessories
Apparel / Backpacks / Bags & Cases / Eyeglasses / Footwear / Hats & Helmets / Watches / Concepts & Prototypes

Service Design

There are three categories of services: revenue generating services, non-profit services and government services. 

Automotive & Locomotive Exterior & Interior / Marine & Aircraft Exterior & Interior / Motorcycles / Recreational Vehicles / Bicycles / Concepts & Prototypes


Design Strategy (use the Design Strategy entry form)
Design Strategy & Management / Design Thinking

Interactive Product Experiences
(use the Interactive Product Experiences entry form)
Consumer, Home & Personal / Business, Communications & Productivity / Games & Multimedia / Concepts & Prototypes

Packaging & Graphics
Packaging Graphics / Packaging Structures / Concepts & Prototypes

Student Designs
Undergraduate Student Projects / Graduate Student Projects

Research (use the Research entry form)
Design Research Projects


Entries will only be accepted online starting December 1, 2010 for the first round of judging. Finalists that conform to the core judging criteria will be asked to submit physical samples of their designs for the final round of judging. If a finalist entry is too large or heavy, entrants will be asked to send in video or scale models/prototypes, extra images, product spec sheets or other material.

Before you log in to upload your entry, be sure to review categories and sub-categories and choose the most appropriate for your entry. Have all of your information ready to submit, including:

  • A complete and accurate list of designer credits and clients/manufacturers;
  • Answers to entry form questions. For categories requiring special entry forms (Research, Strategy and Interactive Product Experiences), please refer to the corresponding entry form template for specific requirements. All other categories use the general IDEA entry form.
  • Images/storyboards:
    • One glamour shot – a crisp, clear professional photograph that shows your product’s best side and fills the frame. It should be horizontally-oriented, have a contrasting background (white is best), and be attention-grabbing and visually compelling.  File should be saved as a 768 x 1024 pixel .JPG, no larger than 500KB
    • One .PDF file (horizontal format / 6 pg, 3MB max) to explain the challenge and solution (we suggest PowerPoint saved as a .PDF)
    • Video (optional): Max. 60 seconds and 10MB maximum; .MOV, .WMV, .AVI, .SWF, and .MPEG/.MPG only

The judging is blind: the designers, their names and the names of consulting firms may not appear anywhere in the entry form or image/file uploads. Failure to abide by this rule results in immediate disqualification. It’s acceptable for brand names or logos of manufacturing companies/clients to appear if they are inherent to the product.

Note: For entrants in categories requiring special entry forms (Research, Strategy and Interactive Product Experiences), please refer to the special entry form template for specific requirements. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete your entry.


 Jurors do their initial scoring online in teams of two for their assigned categories. In this first stage of judging, the jury will evaluate all entries for eligibility, completeness, thoroughness, appropriateness and general conformance to award criteria. Specific criteria may be weighted differently in different categories, at the judges’ discretion.

 Finalists meeting a minimum score after the first round will be invited to submit samples or other supplementary material. Complete instructions will be provided to Finalists upon notification.

In the second, final judging stage, the jury as a whole will meet in their teams to review the supplementary entry material sent in by the Finalists in their categories. Each team will decide which Finalists exemplify the key principles of design excellence and will make recommendations to the jury as a whole for Gold, Silver and Bronze winners. The entire jury will vote to make final award determinations. The jury’s decisions are final.

Best Student Design, Best Concept Design, Best of Category Awards and Paradigm Shifter Awards (or other ad hoc awards) may also be given at the jury’s discretion. The Best in Show Award may be given to one or more Gold-winning entry deemed best in show by the jurors. This award will be determined at the conclusion of the regular jurying by clear majority vote.

People’s Choice Award: Voting for this award will be conducted live at The Henry Ford Museum and voted on by the public.

Designer’s Choice Award: Voting for this award will be done online after the winners are announced, and is open to the public. Each person may only vote once. Voting will also be open during the national conference in September 2011. Only the Gold winners will be eligible to win the Designer’s Choice Award.

Responsibility Award: This award will be given by the jury in conjunction to Gold, Silver, and Bronze awards to those designs deemed most responsible to society, economy, environment, and culture.


All decisions of the jury and sponsors are final. IDSA makes no guarantees as to the number and type of IDEA awards given each year. All data contained in the submission become the property of IDSA and part of its archives. Supplementary judging material and product samples submitted by Finalists will be held by The Henry Ford’s permanent collection (winners only). By submitting an entry, you agree that IDSA and any other party authorized by it shall have permission to publish any material contained in the submission.  Award entry material is on the public record and no content will be treated confidentially.


On or about March 07, 2011 the Jury will select Finalists (“Selected Entrants”) to enter the final round of judging. All selected entrants will be required to respond (as directed) to the phone and/or e-mail notification within one week of attempted notification.  Failure to respond in a timely manner to the notification may result in forfeiture of the award and, in such cases, IDSA may re-score entries and select a new entrant.  Each selected entrant will be asked to transport, at their cost and risk, additional supplementary material for judging, and may also be sent an affidavit of eligibility / liability / publicity release (“release”).  Entrant agrees to grant IDSA, its sponsor(s), third-party vendors and agents the unrestricted rights to publish, display and use the submitted design, entrant’s name, voice, photograph, logo, or other mark or likeness, as well as same of the designer(s), for advertising and promoting the competition and other related purposes in any media without additional permission or compensation (optional for TN residents.)  Selected entrants may also be required to provide other relevant information. Unless restricted by law, each selected entrant will be required to complete and return the release along with requested supplementary judging material within the time period specified therein.


Competition is subject to these official rules.

By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these complete official rules, and, whether or not a member, the terms of ethics on the IDSA web site. All decisions of Sponsor are final and binding; and entrants agree to waive any right to claim ambiguity in the competition or these official rules, except where prohibited by law.  By accepting an award, winner agrees to release sponsor, its attorneys, affiliates, together with the respective directors, employees, officers, licensees, licensors and agents of each, including without limitation, their respective advertising and promotion entities and any person or entity associated with the production, judging, or administration of the contest, (collectively, the Releases) from any and all liability, loss or damage arising from or in connection with awarding, receipt and/or use or misuse of award or participation in any award-related activities.  Sponsor reserves the right to use the contest for publicity purposes in any media, and to use the name, likeness, entry materials and hometown name and/or award information of selected entrants as part of that publicity, without any compensation or prior review unless prohibited by law. Sponsor may cancel the contest for any reason, at its sole discretion.  This contest is void everywhere such contests are prohibited or restricted by law, and subject to applicable federal, state provincial and local laws. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entrant it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the contest or violating these official rules. The releases shall not be liable for: (i) late, lost, delayed, misdirected, incomplete unreadable, inaccurate, garbled or unintelligible entries, or communications; (ii) broadband, cable, telephone system, telephone or computer hardware, software or other technical or computer malfunctions, lost connections, disconnections, delays or transmission errors; (iii) data corruption, theft, destruction, unauthorized access to or alteration of entry or other materials; (iv) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by acceptance of the award or resulting from acceptance, possession or use of a award, or from participation in the contest; or (v) any printing, typographical, administrative or technological errors in any materials associated with the contest. Sponsors disclaim any liability for damage to any computer system resulting from participating in, or accessing or downloading information in connection with this contest, and reserve the right, in their sole discretion, to cancel, modify or suspend the contest should a virus, bug, computer problem, unauthorized intervention or other causes beyond sponsors’ control, corrupt the administration, security or proper play of the contest.  Sponsors may prohibit an entrant from participating in the contest or winning award if, in its sole discretion, it determines such entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the contest in any way by cheating, hacking, deception, or any other unfair playing practices of intending to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other players or Sponsors’ representatives. Disputes regarding these official rules and/or this contest will be governed by the internal laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Any and all legal actions or claims arising in connection with this contest must be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction within Virginia, and you agree to jurisdiction and venue in the courts of Virginia.  Entrant acknowledges and agrees that IDSA reserves the right to amend, modify or terminate the competition at any time.  CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE IDSA or any of the sponsors AND/OR CONTEST-RELATED WEB SITES OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE IN VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND WILL RESULT IN DISQUALIFICATION FROM PARTICIPATION IN THE CONTEST.  SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSORS RESERVE THE RIGHT TO SEEK REMEDIES AND DAMAGES (INCLUDING ATTORNEY FEES) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW, INCLUDING CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.


The Sponsors shall not be involved in any dispute and shall be held harmless and free of any liability in any dispute regarding intellectual property rights. By entering this Competition, Entrant warrants that Entry does not infringe on the Intellectual Property rights of others.

PRIVACY.  All personal information collected by sponsor will be used for administration of the contest. In addition entrants specifically opt in to receive email correspondence from, or on behalf of IDSA, subject to IDSA’s privacy policy. IDSA complies with federal CAN-SPAM guidelines and entrants may subsequently opt-out of receiving further emails. Any questions regarding privacy matters should be directed to the address set out below. Please refer to sponsors’ privacy policy located at for important information regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal information by sponsor.

For a copy of these official rules, send your request in a self-addressed, stamped envelope (WA, VT and Canadian residents need not affix return postage) to:  IDEA Official Rules, 45195 Business Court, Suite 250, Dulles, VA 20166-6717 (address after February 2012 is: 555 Grove Street , Suite 200, Herndon VA 20170-4728). Or send an email request to Winners will be posted on IDSA’s website. IDSA and IDEA are trademarks of the Industrial Designers Society of America. 


Share this