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This year, it is celebrating its 20th anniversary: the International Design Award. As one of the world's largest competitions for students of various disciplines, it is attracting more and more entrants – since 1997, more than 8,000 applications have been received from over 80 countries. For many prize winners, the award has been a springboard into a design career.

What began in the 1996/97 winter semester with a call for entries by furniture fittings supplier Hettich has turned into a competition which today is in a class of its own. In the meantime, the International Design Award is known to colleges and universities across the globe, with the jury selecting winning designs from well over 1,000 submissions. Because students from a wide range of disciplines with a creative focus use the opportunity to present their own designs as a way of making a name for themselves in the industry. Back in 1997, when it all began, the quality of designs entered was still largely heterogeneous and, at a mere 27, the number of entries fairly small. But the competitions to follow were soon attracting applications from hundreds of students wanting to make life easier and the world a more stylish place with their products.

Over the course of time, the designs became ever more modern and ingenious – yet it was the simple ideas in particular that were often the most gripping. "Simplicity always entails the highest mental effort. It's what distinguishes the simple from the banal", stresses Konrad Wohlhage (Léon Wohlhage Wernik firm of architects). This was also why the jury chair of 2003 was in favour of giving the first prize in the same award year to Max Lamb. He impressed the jury with a design for a bookshelf that was just as simple as it was imaginative: on a wall mounted shelf, a single book sits at a slight angle in a depression and supports all copies standing next to it. For Max Lamb – and many other contestants – the award was the springboard for an international career. Today, he works with companies, such as Discipline (Italy), 1882 Ltd. (UK), E&Y (Japan), Lobmeyr (Austria) as well as Habitat (Germany), and teaches product design at the Royal Art College in London. He gets pleasure from being able to "help the next generation of designers to understand and explore their own creative process". In 2015, he even returned to the International Design Award as a member of the jury.

The competition's tenth anniversary in 2007 brought a further company on board – since then, the Award has been organised jointly by Hettich and Rehau. Contestant numbers have quickly grown, each year attracting as many as 1,600 entries. The current competition could break all previous records. It is looking for innovative furnishing solutions for the home, the workplace, for hotels or shops that provide greater comfort and convenience or create additional storage space. This challenge is more topical than ever because the world is becoming more and more mobile and space increasingly precious. The award competition is open to students who are enrolled at a university and studying on a course with a creative focus. The winners can look forward to attractive prize money, a "smart furniture" workshop and international PR for their own reputation. Important: the closing date for registration is 28 February 2018! For further information, go to


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