by Gustavo Greco
On January 19th I arrived at the Hamburg airport, in Germany, to enjoy another opportunity to be part of an international design jury. After receiving a sequence of design awards around the world, now I have the privilege to nominate the recipients of the awards.
In 2013, I had my debut in great style, participating in an international jury for the Cannes Lions Festival. Following that, I took part in the Red Dot Design Awards, El Ojo de Iberoamerica and Prêmios Lusos.
The iF DESIGN AWARD, which started in 1953, is recognized as one of the industry’s most prestigious awards. It is always an honor to be invited to sit in as a jury member in a festival of such importance. It is interesting to see things from a different perspective and have the opportunity to assess the best and most creative solutions produced by contestants from all over the world. It feels even greater to be involved in design discussions with highly qualified, experienced and internationally renowned professionals. Even so, your heartbeat soars the moment you realize you are there and representing your country.
The iF DESIGN AWARDS has made a lasting impression on me due to some of its particular features. The city of Hamburg, with its countless bridges that steal our eyes from the Elbe River, is the home of one of the largest ports in the world. It is the perfect scenery for the award, as it reflects the city’s quality as an international industrial center. It is there, near this city’s port, that the jury meets. 53 international professionals have the task to assess 4,783 design works from all over the world. I could not help but be overwhelmed when I walked into the hall and witnessed all the products displayed side by side. It was the first time I participated in a jury that had to assess all categories at the same place and time. There were cars (yes, I do mean cars), refrigerators and a metro cabin competing with a myriad of other products for one of the most prestigious awards in the design industry. I was indeed flabbergasted by that spectacle.
The jury was divided into groups of three by category. I was fortunate to be part of a group that was in-tune and consensually seeking for products that showcased excellence. A look around the room made me realize that not all jury members had the same point of view and this led to passionate discussions.
The welcome we received was exceptional. We were all treated as superstars, with all the privileges. Every evening there was a dinner to allow all jury members to mingle together. All projects that had been seen during the day continued to be on the agenda.
On the last day of the festival, the Golden awards are delivered to the most outstanding projects in the festival. Only 0.8% of the contestants are given that award. To my surprise, I was told that I would not be part of the final discussion. At first, I was worried, and then I became nervous. One of our projects (Palíndromo) was a candidate for the Golden award. In brief: when one of your projects is a contestant for the award, you do not take part in the assessment process. Though obvious, it is worth highlighting.
I was asked not to participate and, hence, I watched the discussion from afar. I know how hard it is to get the Golden award, because we won it with the Brazilian Design Biennial visual identity last year. Two golden awards in a row? Is that possible? No, that would be too much to expect. And it is exactly at those tense moments that your mind starts to play tricks, making us think that we will not win it.
Time seemed to have stopped. Maybe because I am often restless – and competitive, I confess (he he).
After some time, I was invited back to the Judges’ table. My colleague, speaking to me in German, gave me the news. He said: Definitely Gold! I returned to Brazil elated with this news that we won the award and that Brazilian projects had broken a record in the number of awards in that year’s iF DESIGN AWARD edition.