For our #TeamOn September series, we asked four of the Lead8 team about design competitions. Are they good working practice or do they cheapen the process? In Part 4, we spoke to Senior Associate Director, Sharon Chan.
There are many competitions for architectural and interior design but not many specifically for signage and wayfinding (“S&W”) design.
While integrating with architectural and interior design, S&W design have unique functional and artistic values which critically affect people’s experience of a space. If architectural and interior design are the frame and flesh of a body; then S&W design are the blood vessels. I would very happy to see competitions that recognize the importance of S&W design.
At a company I was formerly employed with, the signage team was once invited and subsidised by a client to participate in an S&W design competition. The winner of the project would be awarded a project contract by the client. Gratefully, the team won the competition and continued with the S&W design of the project.
Becoming a winner is the goal to every participant in a competition. Often times, designers need to spend time and money at their own expense to prepare for the competition. They are usually working on a project for free without any guarantee to win; regardless of the quality of work or level of expertise and resources invested. There is no simple equation to win. Competition is not a value for money exercise.
From another standpoint, competition is indeed a good platform for designers’ to exploit their creativity to the fullest and can be a tool to test their knowledge. Unlike tendering for a client’s project, competitions put the designer under far less constraints. Instead, designers have more autonomy to spark their creativity and imagination on a specific topic.
More importantly, competitions foster team building. It is a good working practice to motivate teammates to stay together, work together and achieve together. The deadline of a competition is non-negotiable. Timely submission requires well-planned and effective division of labor, communication, co-ordination and co-operation among teammates. All these elements are crucial for a design team and a design company to exceed and excel.
Competitions should not be a matter of “win or lose”. It should be about “how to gain more” for oneself, the team and the company as a whole.
I embrace competition.