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SDC International Design Competition: Top tips on how to win!

Since the SDC International Design Competition was first launched in 2002, literally thousands of students have entered, and we’re now open to entries for the 2015 competition. We’re often asked for advice and tips from students and tutors on what the judges are looking for, so we’ve taken a lighthearted look at how to ensure your entry stands out from the crowd.

Focus on colour!

First and foremost, this is a colour competition. We’re looking for creative, imaginative, well thought through colour palettes.

Read the brief!

You’d be surprised how many the students don’t appear to have read the brief properly and haven’t really included the competition theme within their entry.

Be commercial

sdc3 (10) copyWhat is your end product? Does it have commercial appeal and potential? Some entrants present beautiful design boards, with wonderful colour palettes, but they haven’t given much thought to what their end product might be. Students who have gone on to win the competition have usually had a strong commercial focus, and in some cases, a product range ready to take to market. Check out the work of Laduma Ngxokolo from South Africa (photo left), who won the competition in 2010, and is now an established, high profile and incredibly well respected designer. Similarly Judy Scott from the UK (the image below shows one of her textile samples), who won the competition in 2012, has a fabulous product range.

Be prepared to talk about your work

We know that some students find this difficult, but at many of the heats (and at the grand final) the process includes a friendly and informal interview with the judges. This is your opportunity to sell your work, to tell us about your ideas and inspirations. And this is also a commercial reality – in industry you will need to be prepared to present your ideas and sell yourself and your work.

Don’t make claims you can’t back up

On occasion entrants make claims for their work, for example about its sustainability or green credentials that they simply can’t back up.

So what are the judges looking for?

judy scott textile sample 3The judges will be awarding marks in the following categories:

Colour: colour as an integral component of the design process and imaginative use of colour with the palette clearly indicated

Concept: development, from concept to final design or application

Presentation: good presentation and clarity of ideas

Competition theme: has this been properly incorporated into the design?

All sound obvious? You’d be surprised how many students fail to consider at least one of these areas. Equally, each year we’re blown away by the high standard of much of the work and the creativity and enthusiasm that has gone into it.

And finally, be original. Is your design really creative and innovative?

The brief for the 2015 competition is now live and available to download from SDC’s website. The theme for 2015 is ‘Buy less, choose well’.  In a future blog we’ll be looking at the background to the 2015 theme in more detail, so why not subscribe to the SDC Colour Blog and you’ll receive an email notification of when new blogs are published?  You can sign up via the home page.

We hope that you are inspired to enter the competition and wish you every success and look forward to meeting many of you at future competition heats.

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