You’ve Won a Design Award. What Next?

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Congratulations! You’ve received the mail saying that your project has won the award you applied for! Let’s spend a few minutes celebrating the fact that your work has been chosen by a grand jury as worthy of praise. It’s an achievement, not just for your work, but for you too. Now that you’ve finished having that internal moment of celebration, what do you do next? Let’s plan the next steps forward, shall we?

WEAR THE AWARD LIKE A BADGE

You’ve won an award. Don’t be afraid to show it! Make sure you highlight that project in your portfolio, and make a note at either the beginning or the end of the project that it secured a prize. Oh, and don’t forget to list the award in your CV/Résumé too, and make sure you convey the news on your social platforms too! Do whatever you can to show the world you’ve won an award, and the world will definitely notice!

SHOWCASE SHOWCASE SHOWCASE

Award programs will also showcase your project on their own website in their winner’s gallery, and most websites allow the winner to make a profile on them. Make sure you link your profile back to your personal website, so people who view your awarded work can also view the project in detail (and even the design process) on your website along with your other works. Awards like the A’ Design Award and Competition offer a whole variety of perks not just for winners but for participants too. Winning an award puts you on display on their website as well as puts you in their yearbook plus their business network, getting your work out to as many people as possible. Make sure these people have a website they can go to, to view your work.

Publications also tend to gravitate towards awards because that’s the one-stop destination for great content. Prepare a press kit and send your work to your favorite publications, thus developing an international fan-base and an online brand for yourself. If the award is an international one, chances are that the awards program has a media partnership with design blogs and magazines. The A’ Design Award actively reaches out to multiple websites with winning designs as a part of their winner PR Campaign. Being published online means having a permanently present article on your work online. It’s perfectly healthy to google yourself every now and then to see where you’ve been published. These people will gravitate to your website and portfolio too.

DREAM IT, DO IT

If your project is a personal one or conceptual design, an award is validation that it works, or it’s appreciated. Consider pitching it! A lot of projects from the A’ Design Award went on to become rather successful products and even led some pretty remarkable crowdfunding campaigns. If winning an award is step 1, leveraging that validation to launch your product should definitely be step 2! Having your work rewarded and then published online not only boosts your confidence, but also gets your work noticed by potential investors. Do the leg-work and have a pitch ready when you do meet people who are interested. Award functions like the A’ Design Award also tend to hold international galas for their winners, which is a perfect place to meet like-minded people who could turn into collaborators and even business-oriented people who could likely turn into investors.

If your winning product isn’t conceptual, winning an A’ Design Award also opens up avenues for selling your products on platforms like Salone Del Designer, DesignMegaStore, and BuySellDesign. Either way, an award is proof that your product is worth existing and uplifting the lives of consumers, so go ahead and put in some work and let that award-winning product work for you.

EAT, SLEEP, WIN, REPEAT

The only thing better than one award is multiple awards. Most awards have different jury panels, different audiences, and different perks. Applying for different awards not only help validate your work further, they also mean more people are seeing your work, increasing your chances of being taken more seriously in the international circuit. Different awards also offer different perks. Some legacy awards offer trophies or certificates, but also give you immense amounts of credibility, while others offer cash prizes. The idea is being able to pick an award that benefits you with perks that not only help your product grow to its full potential but help you as a designer flourish too. The A’ Design Award has multiple perks that benefit the design as well as the designer. You aren’t just entitled to the trophy, certificate, and international gala, but your design receives a Good Design Mark, and you as a designer receive a Proof of Creation document that helps you establish ownership of your work. You also end up contributing to your country’s ranking on the World Design Ranking roster that gets updated every year! So make sure you review the perks that a particular design award gives you before applying for them… and when you do win the award, make sure you follow the aforementioned steps so that you extract every bit of benefit from the experience. All the best!

Register to participate in the A’ Design Awards 2019 now!


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Check out: Celebrating World Industrial Design Day with Top 10 Designs from A’ Design Award!


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Check out: YD’s Top 15 A’ Design Award Winners for 2017-18

IKEA subtly redesigns its products for each country/culture

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With its first Indian store launching only a day ago, IKEA proved that it understands its consumers and environment better than any other company in its industry.

Allegedly, IKEA has been planning to open its flagship store in India for years now (I remember getting wind of it as long as 5 years ago). Now that the store is finally up and running, there’s one thing worth noticing and appreciating. In every country that IKEA runs its business, the catalog stays true to the company’s signature low-cost, DIY business model, but differs distinctly in terms of flavor. IKEA invests a lot of time, energy, and money, in understanding the country’s climate, its users, their mindsets, cultural quirks, and socio-economic background. Using that data, IKEA subtly redesigns their products to serve their users better, often pandering to their sense of style, budget, and even taking care of climatic requirements to ensure their products last longer than intended.

An article by Fast Company talks about how IKEA prioritizes user needs more than anything else, successfully differentiating between an American consumer, an Indian consumer, and a Japanese one, based on a variety of factors. With India, for instance, IKEA does away with the pine-wood construction it uses in more cooler climates (like in European countries). Pine cannot withstand the heat and humidity of India’s tropical climate, and IKEA’s furniture had to be tweaked to use a wood more durable for India. In a country as dusty as India, houses are cleaned every day with water. The furniture in the Indian catalog come with their own rubber risers so that the wood doesn’t come in contact with water. Kitchen counters are also redesigned keeping in mind the shorter frame of the Indian woman, be it the woman/wife of the house or the hired help. To accommodate for India’s small houses, burgeoning population, and the resulting cramped lifestyle, IKEA introduced a larger range of collapsible, stackable, and foldable furniture that can easily be stowed away when not in use. This furniture also serves its purpose when guests gather at your place for social occasions. IKEA also is reportedly using solar-powered rickshaws (an icon of public transportation in India) to deliver their products to the doors of consumers, therefore embracing the culture while forwarding the brand.

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The Ekedalen table can be extended to accommodate more people

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The fleet of solar-powered rickshaws that will deliver items to the 6.8 million residents of Hyderabad

Similarly, for the Chinese market, IKEA showcased an entire section on balconies, an important part in Chinese homes. Showrooms in southern China showcased balconies with clothes-hanging apparatuses, while showrooms in northern China used balconies as areas for food storage, therefore highlighting the importance of cultural relevance while moving from country to country and region to region. As far as beds are concerned, IKEA’s a perfect example of understanding the socio-cultural implications of the countries implications of the countries it’s in. Korean beds are smaller, for small homes. American beds are showcased in king and queen sizes, while the rest of the world uses centimeters as a measuring format, and for its Indian market, IKEA showcased a bedroom with a smaller bed for youngsters because parents and children usually share a bedroom in middle-class Indian homes. In the kitchen, IKEA stocks far more rice cookers and chopsticks in its Asian markets, while the Indian kitchen showrooms don’t include knives as a part of the cutlery set since Indians usually use spoons at the table when they’re not using their hands to consume food. A rather bewildering spike in flower-vase sales in America had top executives confused until they realized that Americans were using them to drink out of, since the Swedish drinking glasses were too small for America’s ‘grande’ and ‘venti’ way of living. In every aspect of lifestyle, IKEA’s research has resulted in much more relevant products. Even their food-courts have food that’s much more in tune with the country’s culture and tastes.

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IKEA’s food is culturally relevant. Asian cuisines feature rice as a staple, while Middle Eastern IKEA branches serve Halal meats

What’s ingenious on IKEA’s part is that while they beautifully absorb some of the country’s cultures into their catalog, they still manage to forward their brand. IKEA’s catalogs change from country to country, continent to continent, but the store almost always looks the same. A large blue warehouse with the big, bold, yellow and blue logo on the outside is almost an icon of IKEA and is pretty much synonymous with “good furniture beyond this point”, no matter where you are. It also sticks to its universal style of nomenclature, using Swedish names for its products, and inevitably creating a beautiful fusion between what IKEA originally started out as, and the country in which it’s located… a fusion of global and local.

It’s rare to see a company so invested in user research, especially in the fashion/lifestyle/decor industry. Surrounded by competitors that spend time designing products with a one-shoe-fits-all business model, it’s refreshing that a company like IKEA spends so much time, effort, and money in ‘getting it right’. Explains why it remains such an undefeatable force in the furniture and home decor industry!

Source: Fast Company

The secret to rendering white products on white backgrounds

I usually never recommend rendering any sort of product on a white background unless it’s truly necessary. When rendering, the background plays an important role along with the foreground, helping complement/balance it, or create a heavy contrast (that’s usually the photographer or designer’s call), but a white background can generally feel slightly template-ish. The real problem, however, is rendering white on white. A white product on a white background can usually be a nightmare because they tend to merge into one and another, creating ambiguity, and often end up concealing details of the product rather than revealing them… so how exactly does one render white on white? There are a few tricks you could master.

The first trick is realizing that your product, background, and lighting are NEVER the same color. When you load a model into a rendering software, chances are, you’ll use pure white on your product, while the background and lights by default are set at white too. This similarity begins causing your product and background to be practically indistinguishable. The fix? No product is perfectly white, and conversely, no backgrounds are perfectly white either. Choose a shade that’s 98% white (on the black to white spectrum) and your product immediately stands out against the background, while looking more realistically white, rather than perfectly white. You may also want to add a hint of blue to enhance its perceived whiteness, or maybe go in the other direction and drop in a tiny bit of yellow to make it look on the warmer side. Consider using a warmer or cooler shade of white as your background too to create a contrast that your eye will easily pick up on because of the difference in color. You could exploit Keyshot’s color options, even using their extensive Pantone color set.

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Trick one relied on choosing your product and background colors. Trick two requires a fair amount of expertise, but if done right, can make renders look stunning, regardless of how plain your product is. In fact, it’s something Apple has mastered over the years. With products that usually constitute straight lines and geometric curves, Apple relies heavily on perfect lighting to make their products pop. Take for instance the Apple Airpods (image below) that are placed against a white background. The idea is to have lights that illuminate the correct places, and cast shadows on the correct places. Never have a light shining on the side of a product, because a highlight on the side makes your product’s edge disappear into a white background. Always aim for a shadow around the edge, giving your product a gray outline, which helps a viewer easily pick up on the product’s shape. If all fails, add a light in a way that casts a shadow on the floor around the edge of a product, making it more visible. Keyshot has tonnes of environment options that help accentuate product details (consider experimenting with an environment that has a dark-ish background rather than settling for the default environment setting). With time, you can build your own environments to add a signature touch to your renders, placing lights exactly where you need them, creating accurate highlights on your products. This, in turn, will also help you brush up on your studio lighting skills, when you’re dabbling in photography. Another pro-tip? A glossy finish on your product makes highlights and shadows more pronounced. If your product is matte, the crisp lighting details often turn fuzzy. Want to render a matte-finish white product? Make sure your environment has a good balance between light and dark elements, so that they show up well on your matte product.

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Not really getting the exact highlight you want on your rendering software? No problem! Trick number 2.5… just build the highlights in photoshop. Take your render to a photo editing software, and add your highlights using a brush. This gives you MUCH more control over your render, and if it’s any consolation, touching up renders and adding artificial highlights is something ALL companies do to make their renders look more flashy.

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The last trick… just manually increase the contrast on your pictures. If your product has black details that are getting lost when you increase the contrast, try meddling with the Curves tool (ctrl + M or command + M) in photoshop to increase the intensity of just the grays. That way, you’re not touching the whites or the blacks. You’re just taking the ‘almost white’ parts of the image and making them more gray. To finish off, try adding a vignette to the image, giving it a bit of a distinct border, and helping it create a spotlight on your product.

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Rendering white on white is quite a challenge, but the trick is being able to have either a mental or visual reference. If you know exactly what you want, where you want highlights, where you want shadows, it makes execution easier. As far as personal advice goes, stay away from templates and try to build materials and environments from scratch. It makes rendering a much more hands-on activity, and more so, helps YOU stay true to YOUR vision, rather than getting lucky by dragging and dropping colors, textures, materials, and environments. And most importantly, when rendering white on white or rendering anything in general… stop thinking like a product designer, and start thinking like a photographer. Your renders will look absolutely stunning!

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Video Credits: Luxion Keyshot
Mouse 3D Model: Luxion Keyshot
Car 3D Model: Taufiqul Islam
Airpods Image: Apple
Clock Vase Image: Jaro Kose

We should have had credit cards in ‘portrait mode’ all along

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Think about this. You barely use your phone in landscape mode. Unless you’re watching a video on youtube, playing a game, or clicking a photo of a landscape, you’re probably holding and using your phone with one hand… and in portrait mode. So imagine a world where, all your life, your phone came with a landscape UI and home screen. Your drop down menu only worked from the right… and your screen shortcuts you’d expect at the bottom, appeared near the left bezel. When someone called you, you’d have to hold your phone in landscape to read the name and accept the call, and then hold your phone against your ear in portrait mode as you spoke. Makes no sense, doesn’t it? Well of course it doesn’t. It’s counter-intuitive.

So imagine your life with a chip-based credit or debit card. You insert it into the ATM machine in portrait mode, into POS systems in portrait mode too, and chances are, when you’re handing your card to the waiter or the cashier at your coffee shop, you hand it to them holding it in portrait mode… so why is the information on a chip-based credit card always laid out in landscape?

It may seem like a small problem, but it is a problem nevertheless, and like all problems, should be solved and not ignored or normalized.

Winds, however, seem to be changing, with a few companies like Starling Bank in the UK, Venmo in the US, and a few more increasingly adopting a design template that’s vertical rather than the age-old landscape format. The cards look refreshingly different, to say the least, and act not only as indications of how they’re to be used (even NFC cards are used in portrait mode), but also as a differentiating factor, allowing brands and banks to stand out. The portrait-mode card also makes a great case for card-holders, wallets, and phone-case-wallets that are increasingly adopting storing cards in portrait mode as well… and while some may be wondering why we never thought of this earlier, it’s worth noting that with how much we’ve begun adopting the portrait standard (not just for content consumption, but creation too, with Snap Stories and IGTV), it’s about time the payments card followed suit too.

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Via The Verge