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A completely new type of design competition

Or when designers become superstars!

Design Intelligence Award China

The spotlights are positioned, the microphones adjusted, every step has been rehearsed. The atmosphere is electric and the make-up crew are applying powder to the last beads of perspiration. Here we are, in the midst of the preparations for the presentation and adjudication of the Design Intelligence Award (DIA) in Hangzhou.

Hangzhou, famous for the "Chinese Arts University" that was founded to highlight new approaches to the fine arts, is the symbolic place in which this extraordinary design competition was first brought into being. Besides sustainability, aesthetics, innovative abilities and social relevance, attention was also paid to the overall presentation in the selection of the design.

And there was a great deal at stake. From a total of 2511 applications received, the awards were made in mid-May: 2x gold, 10x silver and 10x bronze. Before that stage was reached, however, and following a series of qualifying rounds, the top 22 faced the critical eyes of the jury in a contest spanning several days. Not only the expert jury, but also the entire audience gave each entry marks by holding up score cards. Stress and pure adrenaline. And not a trace of a standard award show, where the winner has generally already been decided before the event and the presentation is held for the sake of appearances.

Design Intelligence Award China

Award ceremony turns out to be an extreme challenge

For EDAG, Global Design Manager Johannes Barckmann entered the lists with the Light Cocoon, our concept car: "As a design manager at EDAG, I have both seen and received a great many awards in the field of design! I must say, though, that the award ceremony in Hangzhou was a real highlight and at the same time an enormous challenge. The idea of a challenge was very much to the fore. After a short briefing, the contestants were expected to re-phrase their messages and give their presentations in front of a battery of cameras and hundreds of spectators. Stress levels were deliberately kept high, to stage a genuine battle. It was like being on the TV programme 'Germany's Search for the Superstar' for designers!" recalls Johannes Barckmann.

Design Intelligence Award China

Presentation in 3 Minutes, be convincing in 60 seconds

One of the things that made the DIA so special was the scoring system. First of all, the participants had to give a 3-minute presentation with a subsequent question and answer session in a presentation show that was recorded live. Those who got past this first hurdle went into round two the next day. Time to take a deep breath here, the EDAG Light Cocoon had already secured the silver medal! There now followed a 60-second "battle", in which the aim was to impress the jury with a convincing statement. At the end of the day, we just missed taking first place, but the prize money for second place is well worth having: the sum of € 27,000 was awarded to the shining example of the mobility of tomorrow. Barckmann, too, is satisfied with this result: "Until then, it was impossible for me to imagine the intensity of the media coverage and staging of the three-day competition in China. There were moments when I felt as though I was part of a live TV show, I had make-up appointments, photo shoots and rehearsed where to walk and what to do with the other contestants. The marketing of the event, too, went far beyond anything I had ever encountered. A one-hour edited version is shortly to be shown on Chinese state TV. But not just the media showed enormous interest in the EDAG Light Cocoon and Design Manager Johannes Barckmann. Towards the end, it was like being a celebrity: members of the audience, contestants, jury members were asking for my autograph and asking me to have photos taken with them. This was an unusual but also very flattering experience."

Dr. Lars Röhrig, CEO of EDAG China, accepted the 2nd prize during the final official ceremony.

There is one thing of which Barckmann is sure: "Apart from the award and the thrill of coming second in the contest, we were able to make our trend setting model for the mobility of the future more accessible to people. And, with its high-level design competence, EDAG made a lasting and imposing impression, not just in Hangzhou."