Why is it the only game in town?
Jacques Giard, Ph.D., IDSA, Director
School of Design | Arizona State University
This paper addresses the phenomenon of student design competitions and a predilection — especially by the corporate world — to not select other kinds of collaborative design exercises or experiences when considering corporate involvement with schools of design. The paper explores the competition phenomenon from three particular points of view: 1) the origin of design competitions, 2) their relevance to contemporary industrial design practice, and 3) possible alternative directions to design competitions for students in industrial design education.
The paper begins by situating the present day phenomenon of student design competitions in both an historical and professional context. It explores this aspect of the phenomenon especially in the light of competitions in architecture and other similar disciplines.
The paper then proceeds to superimpose the historical development of the student design competition of the past onto the contextual relevance of today’s industrial design practice. In other words, are the benefits derived from a design competition meaningful to modern design education and practice?
The paper concludes with several proposals that are potentially more contextually relevant and pedagogical meaningful to contemporary industrial design education.