Design Intelligence Award (DIA) is one of the first international academic awards in industrial design, created to celebrate innovativeness and entrepreneurship. Hosted by China Academy of Art and located in Hangzhou where innovation is booming, DIA is not only an award, but also a channel to the Chinese industry network and infrastructure, as well as the Chinese market and business. Such a holistic approach sets the DIA distinctly apart from other awards programs, recognizing the role that design can play in achieving real change and creating a Community of Practice that is not found anywhere else.
For Design Promotion 2021 was the year of the first attempt in promotion of the DIA in the Netherlands. Focus this year was on creating a strategy for collecting entries and finding key messaging for the DIA in the Netherlands and globally. The first one, collecting entries, is essential, but it is more important to create a strategy that sets apart the DIA from other (international) design awards out there.
- Get key messaging straight – it is proven to be essential that the DIA creates a solid, clear, and cohesive messaging towards businesses
- Set apart – DIA needs to focus on setting itself apart from the plethora of other design awards.
Creating brand direction
The DIA has a clear brand proposition to the outside world, but it is essential to be very explicit about what DIA offers to business and what the added value is for business
- Create unique brand proposition – make the holistic approach and unique proposition for accelerating international trade, increasing connectivity and opening commercial opportunities clear, and promoting them more actively a year long.
At all times, these need to be considered when promoting DIA:
- Building trust – be stable and communicate with focus. Create trust and a stable message
- Market sentiment – be aware that trade relations might be challenging
- Getting the story right – create a brand proposition and set it apart. Create international tuned marketing materials (website, socials, eg.)
- Partnerships – Creating real-network opportunities. Connecting ideas, businesses, and investors.
- Trust – establish trust through consistent messaging and providing opportunities
- Collaboration in Design Union – focus on closer collaboration on similar topics all Design Union countries (in the same continent) experience; like, creating marketing materials, key messaging, eg.
This year entry collection period shows that businesses value the overall brand and market proposition of the DIA; we need to strategize and consistently communicate to participants that:
- China is an important and exciting growth market
- We are unique in our holistic approach to Industrial Design
- Be explicit about entering for free, and no hidden cost. This is one of the unique offerings of the DIA
Main points to be considered in future years strategy
- An ongoing programme of DIA all year long, rather than a one-off awards event
- Global programme based around the concept of Design Intelligence
- Trade programme focused on fostering business growth between companies (NL in specific, and globally) and China
- Innovation programme that begins with a unique awards opportunity, which sets the DIA apart from others
This has been a challenging year in general and was the first year Design Promotion was actively part of the Design Union programme. We are delighted to be part of the DIA as a partner for the NL. We are currently creating a more long-term strategy for the DIA than just a one-time off event. This year focus was exclusively on recruiting a high-quality entry. We hope a more long-term strategy can extend unique partnerships and, thus, help find and attract high-quality entries, as we think the efforts taken in the first will help us extend the international image of the DIA.
Design in the Netherlands
Dutch Design in general worldwide known; minimalistic, experimental, innovative, unconventional, and with a sense of humor. Dutch Design is optimistic and believes that the problem-solving capacity of designers can improve the world. Well-known Dutch Designers include Maarten Baas, Jurgen Bey, Richard Hutten, Hella Jongerius, Wieki Somers, Hester van Eeghen and Marcel Wanders, In the Netherlands, cities like Eindhoven and Tilburg are considered the ultimate breeding grounds. The main source of inspiration was De Stijl art movement.
A strong educational system for designers has propelled the internationally recognized Dutch Design. Eindhoven University of Technology and Delft University of Technology are world-leading technical universities, and both have a strong faculty of Industrial Design that is known for their leading positions in designing interactive and intelligent products, systems and related services. Design Academy Eindhoven has its international reputation for its emphasis on engaging complex social and cultural issues and has produced many well-known designers such as Maarten Baas, Massoud Hassani and Marcel Wanders. Another well-known school is Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.
Dutch Design in China
Dutch design and designers are active in China. In Beijing Dutch graphic agency LAVA has worked on numerous high-profile local projects such as visual identity, website design and way-finding for the Beijing Design Week. In Shanghai, Link Design and BSUR are strong in providing communication design solutions for projects around China. Product designers operating in China include Marcel Wanders, Studio Drift and Studio Henny van Nistelrooy. Daan Rosegaarde has a “pop-up” studio in Shanghai. Philips Design Shanghai is the corporate research centre and innovation engine for Philips in China, focusing on breakthrough technologies development aiming to make a difference to people’s health and wellbeing across healthcare continuum, with special attention to the challenges in the China market.
Dutch design education has also active collaboration with China. For example, Eindhoven University of Technology has active exchange programs in Industrial Design with Zhejiang University, Jiangnan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Our ambitions were set out in the document attached – DIA NL Inception Report Strategic Insight. Whilst gathering entries is necessary, we stressed that it was more important to view 2021 as the year to get the messaging straight and learn what participants find important about the DIA.
As our first year of collecting entries, we were very keen on finding high-quality works in the Netherlands. In 2021 we collected about 50 high-quality entries, which cover a wide range in Industrial Design. We are very pleased that we found the key-messaging we are looking for and learned how to approach the right parties during this period.
This has been achieved through:
- Key messaging – Get messaging and branding straight, and communicate key values of DIA
- Scouting and inviting – personally invited over more than 150 projects to participate in the DIA 2021 – edition
- Actively promoting DIA in social media and on our website
Achievements in inviting
Linking back to the inception report, the area’s focus would lay upon inviting the right networks of business, public organizations, universities, and design/innovation companies. The highlights of these invites are:
- Reached out to all three university Design departments in the NL. Active involvement of Industrial Design department – study association – of the Eindhoven University of Technology. And active involvement of department Industrial Design Eindhoven University of Technology
- BNO – first networking has is done with BNO for partnerships.
- Design/innovation companies – over 150 companies were invited for the DIA 2021 edition and were presented the DIA proposition
How could DIA develop?
- The world is changing fast, no more so than in the last eighteen months. The positioning of the DI-Awards has the potential to set it distinctly apart from other award programmes.
- We believe that DIA’s key point of difference is that it adopts a more holistic approach, recognizes the role that design can play in achieving real change, genuinely wants to create a Community of Practice that is not seen elsewhere and positively wants to encourage trade potential between China and the global world (especially NL).
Ambitions 2021 and beyond
The key focus is on long-term strategy. This year we got familiar with the DIA entry collection and actively involved business with the DIA. For coming edition, we will continue setting up a more in-depth strategy, creating valuable relationships with relevant parties, and slowly building a valuable community around the DIA.
To further extend the reach of DIA, we could:
- Live-stream Awards event and host a design debate amongst European partners
- Create collaboration in the Design Union to create more directed messaging for DIA internationally and share relevant experiences and relevant materials.
- Activate relevant, already existing business networks in the Netherlands. Focus on networks that are already familiar with China / Netherlands relationships, so it is more convenient to tell them the story of DIA
- Hosting (online) QA / information sessions to further interact with relevant businesses and individuals for DIA
- Create meaningful, relevant trade and entrepreneurial opportunities to create real added value for DIA participants
- Create more PR in online/offline channels, thus creating more awareness and trust
- Finding more design leaders for DIA expert groups which can activate their network in participating in DIA