The Good Design Award (G-Mark) has received enthusiastic support from many companies and designers. Despite harsh economic circumstances, we received as many as 2,329 entries from 1,028 companies this year. Then Chairman of Jury Kazuo Kawasaki and Vice-Chairperson Coco Funabiki led a 63-person Screening Committee through a rigorous adjudication process, which unfolded over a period of four months. The result was the selection of 1,290 items by 670 companies for the Good Design Award, and out of that number, 75 entries were selected for special prizes, such as the Gold Prize or the Theme Prize, and so on.
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Since this year marks the beginning of the 21st century, it served as an occasion for those of us associated with the G-Mark system to ask about specific measures for creating the successor to the design that has supported the development of the industrial society of the 20th century. In the following, I would like to report on how the Jury Committee, including Chairman Kawasaki, and those of us in the administrative office, have been examining our policies, and how we have been conducting the adjudications on the basis of those policies. I would particularly like to focus on those aspects of the process that are difficult to state in numerical terms.

--Policy Work--
The Good Design Award is more than just a simple design competition. Rather, it is a system for promoting design with the goal of encouraging attempts to use design to improve the material quality of life and revitalize industry.
In 1997, responsibility of organization for this system was shifted away from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and privatized under the handle of the Japan Institute of Design Promotion. However, at that stage, we had a somewhat vague idea of the goals of the system and their relation to the measures by which we should administer the system itself. When the system was first established during the late 1950s and early 1960s, this relation had seemed quite clear, but we also thought that the procedures had been repeated from year to year without asking from a strategic standpoint how to realize these goals in an up-to-date manner.
Put very simply, under what policies should the G-Mark system be administered?
Our idea was that the policies should included inviting a person who held an outstanding philosophy of design and superb leadership skills to be the chair of the Jury Committee, and, to continue renewing the system itself under the guidance and advice of that person. In other words, we decided to ask the person who worked as chair of the Screening Committee also to take on the role of director of the entire system at the same time.
Based on these guidelines, we invited a leader of the design world and a leading expert on CI, Motoo Nakanishi, to be the first Chairman of Jury since the privatization, and with that, the new Good Design Award began.

--The Nakanishi Era (1998-2000)--
Motoo Nakanishi's vision for the society of the 21st century is of "an era in which cultural growth will lead economic activity--and the engine for that growth will be design." Looking at the previous G-Mark system from this vantage point, he pointed out that the system had been administered on the basis of producer-oriented concepts." In other words, only measures for the industrial society were fully in place. He set us the challenge of seeking out a path from the user/consumer to design, one that could carry out the role of positioning the G-Mark at the point of contact between the producer and the user. He was of the opinion that designers had to step outside the closed world of design. He maintained that identifying with users and consumers as they reassessed their designs would allow designers to foster the development of design for a new ear in which "cultural growth would guide economic growth." This era saw the introduction of the catch phrase, "Good design is good business." The significance of this phrase went beyond the simple notion that good design sells well. Instead, it meant that the culture of design serves as a driving force for economic vitality.
Under Nakanishi's guidance, we took an active role in publishing information that would move the system's center of gravity more toward consumers and users. At the same time, we established a division, the New Frontier Design Category, to cover design activities that have to do with the informatization of society. As of this year, we've taken an active role in PR directed at journalists, a constituency that we formerly took for granted, and we took the bold step of opening the adjudication sight, which had formerly been limited to persons connected to the entries or the screening process, to the general public.
This product fair known as the Good Design Presentation was not limited to entries for adjudication. Companies such as Toshiba, Matsushita Group (a.k.a Panasonic or National), and Hitachi also cooperated by sending products for an exhibit called "Advanced Design," which shows current corporate design activities. The effect of these extra exhibits may be the reason that more than 7,000 people visited the site during the mere eight hours that it was open. Now we would like to take advantage of this increase in the range of participation to open new connections uniting consumers, users, and designers.

--The Kawasaki Era (2000-- )--
However successful we are in building connections with consumers and users, they will function only when designers have the ability to become aware of them and develop them. Thanks to the efforts of designers, such as articles in some of the lifestyle information magazines or current events like "Tokyo Designer's Week," a market is emerging in which design itself becomes something to consume. The bad news in the midst of this favorable trend for the design world is that in many cases, the prices that design studios are receiving for the orders that come in have fallen so low that their continued survival in business is in doubt. In addition, design divisions in both large, medium, or small companies are being affected by continual corporate spin-offs and cutbacks. While these phenomena serve as proof that a certain type of restructuring is underway, if present trends continue, Japan will inevitably lose a large number of the human resources who are conversant with the philosophy and methodology of design.
Kazuo Kawasaki, whom we have asked to chair the Jury Committee this year, has also been seriously concerned about these changes in the environment for design. We have conceived of our basic guidelines for this year as follows; we first have to get off the slippery slope, give managers a new appreciation for the work of designers, encourage designers themselves to take pride in their professional skills, view the G-Mark system as a venue for "creating opportunities," and reclaim the notion of the power of design. We wouldn't achieve these objectives by the simple expedient of lowering our adjudication standards. Rather, Chairman Kawasaki's intention was much stricter: namely, that we should take the full power of the philosophy, ethics, and methodology of design and apply them to setting up a suitable adjudication system.
Chairman Kawasaki has said, "I would prefer not to use the vague term 'consumer.' I'd like to begin by viewing those people as users." In other words, there can be no design without a tense relationship with the people who will use it. He also stated that the adjudication should see through the edgy intentions of the designers and view them in the most favorable mood possible. According to the adjudication guidelines that he has indicated, the designers who have submitted entries and the members of the Jury Committee should firmly face up to each other, and the Jury members should take a long look at the essence of the designers themselves. This seems somewhat inward-looking compared to previous ways of administering the system, but there can be no design without designers. Of course, Kawasaki is pointing out new ways of linking the paths between the inner-oriented and outer-oriented aspects of design, and proposing a new framework for encouraging the development of design. But this year at least, our adjudication will emphasize protecting designers, improving the environment for design, if only a little, and fostering the kind of courage that will be needed as we face a new century.

--The Adjudication Procedure--
The procedure for adjudicating the Good Design Award consists of having groups of 3 to 6 members of the Jury Committee adjudicate the entries from each division. The First Adjudication concentrates mainly on the information presented by the entrants, while the Second Adjudication, for entries that pass the first stage, takes place at the exhibit site. In addition, this group, which is nearly assured of receiving a Good Design Award, serves as the pool for the Special Prize Adjudication, at which the Gold Prize, the Theme Prize, and others are selected. The next step is the Grand Prize Adjudication, for the one and only Grand Prix. This is the procedure by which all the prizes were determined this year, too, but I would like to give you a bit more detail on how the screening was conducted.

--Establishment of the Communication Design Division--
Last year, we at the Good Design Award established the New Frontier Design Division to cover new design activities that were a response to the informatization of society. Among the prize recipients in this division were many products that suggested the way that communication design should be. We decided to establish a new independent category for that purpose, the Communication Design Category.
The G-Mark has its origins in product design and industrial design, but even in these areas, the scope of the designer's activities has expanded into "three-dimensional" creations. For example, there is a tendency to design both the tangible and intangible aspects of an item, but when evaluating this kind of comprehensive design activity, it is overly simplistic to look at it in terms of previous concepts of product design. Given that the tangible and intangible aspects are a unification of the surface and interior facets of a design, we thought it would be a good idea to establish a division that would screen entries in terms of Communication Design.
On the one hand, Kawasaki was interested in the establishment of the new category from a different perspective. "Now is the time for us to consolidate the power of design," he has said. "This is not the time for closing ourselves off into narrow areas of such-and-such design." On another occasion, he said, "The G-Mark ought to be a venue where designs can encounter one another and struggle with one another in a way that transcends areas. It should function as a framework for giving rise to more powerful forms of design." Those were the kinds of nuances he intended.
Thus, the Communication Design Category began, taking on the role of integrating various types of design. We asked 6 designers who have excellent reputations in the field to join the Jury Committee, but we were not able to get as many responses as we had hoped, perhaps because it was a newly established category. Then we made use of recommendations from the Jury Committee, an arrangement in which we asked them to act as recommenders and solicit applications. We also had them collect items that served to illustrate the concept of the Good Design Award as it applies to Communication Design.
This division is not a matter of arguing the merits and demerits of such design representations as advertisements, but of evaluating the use of design to facilitate deeper communication between the person sending the message and the person receiving the message. In other words, we hoped to achieve a position of adjudicating not the creation itself but its design above and beyond everything else. Even so, the people at our office guessed that the highest evaluations would go to skillful advertising campaigns that employed the mass media. Yet the candidates for the Special Prizes were "Small Fish" and "Takeo Paper Show," and similar workshop-type projects. That is, thesewere projects that designed the very venue from which information would arise. The message was that this was not the kind of communication design used in an industrial society but that the act of designing the origin of communication was now being acknowledged. In one sense, evaluation is a matter of questioning someone's philosophy. We think that this kind of exercise of their critical sense by the Screening Committee members is the most important role of the Good Design Award.

--The First Adjudication--
The adjudication for the Good Design Award is based on the subjective judgments of the individual Jury Committee members, depending on their individual experiences. The methodology involves discussions among the Jury Committee members, so that their subjective judgments may gradually become more objective.
Evaluating design is an intuitive and generalized matter, and the procedure of assigning numerical values to several evaluation points seems unsuited to it. Therefore, it is even more important to conduct screenings with the actual products in front of the committee members, and this has been part of the methodology of the G-Mark Award system from its very inception and down to the present day. However, screening of actual products is problematic in that decisions may be influenced by the overall atmosphere and layout of the exhibition site. For that reason, ever since privatization, we have added the so-called First Adjudication, in which detailed individual judgments are made concerning each entrant on the basis of materials submitted. We are particularly looking for a method of collecting all the information on a CD-ROM and distributing it to the jury members. But the difficulties of manipulating information for the purposes of mutual comparison has actually brought favorable comments as they can now I can take their time screening the entries one by one."
The information that we receive from corporate designers consists not only of photographs and summary descriptions, but also a wide range of materials; surveys about the design process, concerning such matters as how they solved problems on the basis of their idea of the user, as well as the lead designer's own thoughts and opinions. Even so, we believe that we must avoid making a sophisticated, substantive judgment on the basis of information alone. We therefore also make our judgment on the basis of whether the design process has been properly carried out, according to criteria such as a clear grasp of the product's purposes and conditions of use, on the assumption that the product will be selected to advance to the next adjudication. We treat the First Adjudication as an essential step, in the sense of clarifying the fundamentals that give rise to good design, but this year, nearly 90% of entries passed the first Adjudication, perhaps because recently, most companies have been choosing their entries through an in-house selection process.

--The Second Adjudication--
For the Second Adjudication, not only the entries that have passed the First Adjudication, but also items recommended by the Jury Committee are all moved into the adjudication site. This is the most important step in the four-month adjudication process for the Good Design Award.
At the Second Adjudication, the administrators want the entries looked at in terms of their concept and design, or, in other words, in terms of whether the concept behind them is appropriate and legitimate and whether it can be easily understood from the form of the entry. That is all the administrators ask. The entire judgment of what constitutes good design is left the Jury Committee for a given year.
At the beginning of this year's adjudications, Kawasaki urged the Jury Committee members, "I would not ask you to look for reasons to reduce points but to add points. I rather would like you to look at the entries in a positive way." Whenever you try to give any kind of design a negative evaluation, some sort of quibbling is involved. But this system is a system for promoting design. Particularly since privatization, we have concentrated on discovering good aspects and letting people know about them, and the previous words of the Chairman served to further emphasize this principle. Furthermore, Chairman Kawasaki has said, "I would like you to stop screening entries on the basis of your personal likes and dislikes. In particular, if you label something as 'not passing' and your reasons for that judgment are vague, you can expect to have to debate me!" This means making judgments logically without being carried away by your moods, but perhaps because of these pronouncements, this year's screening involved taking a lot of time with each individual entry, and making the reasons for one's arguments absolutely clear. In this and other ways, the screening was much more stressful and stringent than in typical years.
This year in particular, after the conclusion of the adjudication for each division and group, an opportunity for adjusting the adjudication standards was set up. Here the chairman made about 30 proposals, and each committee member responsible for a certain division either accepted or rejected it, which led to some fiery debates.
The surveys made during the Good Design Presentation, when the adjudication site was open to the public revealed quite a gap between the attitudes of the young people with an interest in design and those of design professionals. This was extremely interesting for thinking about how to proceed with the Good Design Award from the point of view of a professional.

--Special Prizes Adjudication--
We set aside three weeks after the screening of actual products for the adjudication for such special prizes as the Gold Prize and the Theme Prize, based on the opinion that, "We will need to have enough time for our investigations." We also decided to set up a new Special Prize Committee. The adjudication meeting was held on September 20, attended by the Chair and Vice-Chair, as well as the category chairs, and the unit chairs, and the candidates for the Gold Prize and the three Theme Prizes; Ecology, Universal, and Interaction Prize, had been moved into the venue. Modifications for this year included a revised formula in which all the candidates for the Gold Prize chosen from each division and group were adjudicated on an equal basis, and the consolidation of the temporary Theme Prizes other than the 3 ordinary ones under the title of Special Prize of Chairman of the Jury. Special Prize of Chairman of the Jury in particular was a means for the Chairman to exercise his authority and clearly express his views in a way that was not quite possible with the Gold Prize and the Theme Prizes. This year, there were two prizes awarded from the perspective of designer management and one prize awarded from the perspective of expanding the boundaries of design.
We publicized the progress of the Special Prize Committee through our web site, but when I look at the entries that won the Gold Prize and the three Theme Prizes, the key phrases that come to mind include proposals for new uses and new means of enjoyment, ecology, the sustainable society, systematic solutions, exploiting information technology, opening up new areas of service, and making design into a business. Put simply, design takes the initiative in moving things forward, and this cutting-edge nature of design is widely appreciated.

--What the Adjudication Shows--
This screening resulted in 1,290 Good Design Awards this year, many more than last year. This was by no means due to any leniency on the part of the screening. The screening period had been significantly extended, and as previously mentioned, there were a lot of stringent, wide-ranging debates. As a result, given the improvements in the overall level of the designs, the Jury Committee came up with new interpretations of what level an entry would have to achieve in order to be awarded a prize.
As one can see from an overview of the adjudication site, the entries set up there can seemingly be classified into "wonderful," "quite good," "well put together," "has come up with some answers," and "seems to have a few problems." We think that it would be easy to understand if the Jury Committee members were to draw a dividing line at the "quite good" level. However, we fear that the Good Design Award would then become a mere design competition, that the fields in which prizes could be awarded would be limited by practical concerns, and that certain designers would come to expect to win prizes. Since the Good Design Award is a system for expanding the possibilities of design, it cannot fulfill its role merely by holding a design competition. In other words, the question of how to go beyond just drawing a line of demarcation is a point of contention. Every year we have had the range of awards determined with consideration for balancing contemporary societal demands and the level that designers and companies can achieve. We believe that in the past, this balance has been directed by the process of the Jury Committee members watching each other for cues.
This year clearly saw a searching inquiry into the aspects of screening that are most difficult to describe in words. Speaking in terms of the classifications, our guiding principle was that if an entry had aspects that could be evaluated in terms of careful consideration of the user and discovery of the designers new role, it was worthy of a prize, and this applied not only to items in the "well put together" ("has come up with appropriate answers") category, but even to those in the "has come up with some answers" category. If we compare the adjudication process to university entrance exams, this is like the concept of granting students admission if they excel in a specific area, even if they are not very good on average. It may be appropriate to say that we want our adjudication to break away from reliance on "grade point averages."
Kawasaki has expressed the opinion that good design in the 21st century will create "things for which there are no substitutes." We believe that this means not items that the whole society regards as good or design that everyone recognizes as superior, but "things that are just right for me, so much so that I'll go crazy if I can't have them." During this year's screening, in which these aspects were unhesitatingly evaluated, the adjudication was where these discoveries were made. The adjudication results also included the message that designers have the power to propose "things for which there are no substitutes." In the latter half of the screening process, there were new activities, such as asking each committee member to choose one-best-entry out of the 1,290 items, or adding appropriate words to an evaluation. (There are plans to compile these procedures into a book.) The fact that these activities took place can be seen as another manifestation of this new attitude toward screening.
I suppose that the first step in creating "things for which there are no substitutes" is for the designer to take a look at the situation. One of this year's recipients of Special Prize of Chairman of the Jury was the television program called Home -stay in the World: URURUN Staying Diary. This is not only a clear statement that the media are the objects of design but also high praise for the "look" that this program has taken. It neither takes a disparaging view of a lifestyle and culture different from our own nor analyzes it objectively. It is as if we jump into it naked, laughing, crying, having serious discussions, and having a lot of shared experiences. Is this not the epitome of the "look" with which users and designers face each other?
I think that this year's adjudication has presented the quest for "things for which there are no substitutes" as a task and problem for designers as professionals.