Design awards: awesome or not?

Is it award season again already? I don’t know that climate change has the power to affect the award season the way it undoubtedly affects the weather, but there’s definitely a change afoot in design awards. These days there’s a submission deadline around every corner, and it’s starting to feel a bit like that time of the month…

In the past, just as summer came to a close in the great Pacific Northwest, the award season kicked off in Europe, followed directly by the U.S. There’s not much to love about the submission process, but I do love winning. And after three intense months of dotting I’s, crossing T’s, and cropping images for awards, it was back to business as usual—media relations, communications and marketing, just a few of my favorite things. Not so bad really.

Those were the good ole days, circa 2010, when award season came on slow, a bit like a cold, with an itch at the back of your throat that lets you know trouble’s brewing. As much as I didn’t look forward to it, I didn’t mind it either. I could plan for it. Kinda like a vacation…to a place you don’t really want to go, but a good break from the daily grind nonetheless.

But something changed last year. New awards started creeping up, and what seemed like worthwhile awards at that. I didn’t really want to enter them, but at the same time, part of me really did.  So I womaned up, started dotting I’s, crossing T’s, and cropping images for awards. And before I knew it, design awards weren’t seasonal anymore. They were all the time. They are all the time. Which begs the question, what’s the real value? If there are a million design awards, they can’t all be worth winning. Which of course means, they can’t all be worth entering.

So my question to the design community is this: of all the design awards out there, which award trumps all others? Which award is the crème de la crème of design awards? And what makes it worth the work required to win?

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