Mind the Gap: Perceptions of Design Awards from the Wild
James Andrew Self


Design awards have become a valuable means for firms to distinguish the quality of their design work from that of their competitors, thus acting as symbols of recognition. Although their benefits appear to be clear, this empirical study contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the factors that inform how the notion of a design award is perceived by those who may take part in awards competitions. A qualitative content analysis of survey responses highlights how attitudes towards design awards are informed by perceptions of and associations between such factors as the perceived quality of awarding criteria, validity of judgments during design evaluation, perceptions of fees, and the quality of awarded designs. These factors and their associations contribute to a greater understanding of how contemporary attitudes towards awards competitions are formed. Findings are positioned to both stimulate debate and provide a point of departure for studies of attitudes towards and perceptions of various design awards competitions. Through a greater understanding of how awards competitions are perceived, opportunities exist to continue to increase their reputation for the benefit of both those that stage awards competitions and those who may participate in them.

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