The world’s oldest and most established global awards program for the best and most outstanding contributions to contemporary international design celebrates its historic 60-year anniversary in 2010. The program is organized annually by The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design together with The European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies.
GOOD DESIGN™ was founded in Chicago by Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., curator at MoMA, together with Eero Saarinen and Charles and Ray Eames, as a way in which to illuminate the most advanced design achievements by the world’s leading industrial and graphic design firms and manufacturers—much as it has today, 60 years later.
In 2009, over 500 global products and graphic designs won a GOOD DESIGN Award from over 35 nations—from China to Turkey; from Singapore to the Principality of Liechtenstein.
The deadline for the 60th global edition of GOOD DESIGN is July 1, 2010.
“From its modest start in 1950 at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago,” states Christian K. Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President, The Chicago Athenaeum, “ GOOD DESIGN has become the world’s most prestigious barometer for the most innovative consumer and domestic products, branding, and graphic design on a global scale.”
“The original intent behind GOOD DESIGN as molded by its founders in the 1950s was to introduce modern design to a very reluctant American public that was better acquainted with Chippendale furniture and other traditional, historic styles and antiquated tastes."
“GOOD DESIGN became a doctrine,” states Mr. Narkiewicz-Laine, “Kaufmann, Eames, and Saarinen became the preachers. Post-World War II consumer items were on a revolutionary course continuing well into these first decades of the 21st-Century. The spread of modernist design was nothing less than evangelical."
“Eager to shape postwar consumer culture, Saarinen and Eames were on a mission to educate, inform, and to forever change public tastes and attitudes of a mass audience at large, not just in the United States, but around the world. The twice yearly GOOD DESIGN programs from the offset became the opening gun that would forever transform the everyday, mass produced design item into an object of high art and high aesthetic,” Mr. Narkiewicz-Laine adds. “More so and at mid-Century,” he continues, “GOOD DESIGN became a public debate as leading corporations churned out more and more exemplary products such as state-of-the-art cars, radios, televisions, and appliances all founded on the modernist precepts of functionalism, simplicity, and truth to materials. This debate stretched into Europe in the 1950s and into Asia in the 1990s and was heightened by an international network of authorities from early design councils in Scandinavia, department stores, museums, and in-house corporate design studios now emerging in every important major world corporation.”
By 1959, GOOD DESIGN went truly global with the first GOOD DESIGN Show to take place in Milan, Italy.
Each year and well into this decade, innovation and the urge to stretch the envelope became more and more ambitious, revolutionary, and mature by such early firms as Motorola, Knoll, Herman-Miller, Montgomery Ward, and Sears Roebuck & Company and by such astute modernists as Florence Knoll, Mies van der Rohe, Hannes
Wegner, Marcel Breuer, Frank Lloyd Wright, Raymond Loewy, Russel Wright, and Arne Jacobson and all the way to today’s leading designers of Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.
Throughout the 1950s, year after year, cutting-edge furniture, fabrics, early electronics, such as radios and televisions, business equipment, household products and appliances, hardware, tabletop, sports and recreational and domestic products, transportation, and graphics were introduced at GOOD DESIGN. The program was written and open to “everything and anything in the environment from a spoon to a city.” The selection criteria stated that the mass produced object must stand on its own: its function, its shape, its materials and on the basis of eye-appeal and construction and price.
In these beginning decades of the 21st-Century, GOOD DESIGN’s “everything and anything” has translated into the most profound, technologically advanced man-made and mass-produced objects from several NASA space ships, a NASA Mars Landing Rover, and space-age locomotives to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner winning GOOD DESIGN Awards.
The celebrated GOOD DESIGN logo, the orange-brown square and black circle, designed in 1950 by the Chicago graphic designer, Mort Goldsholl, has become the most important and recognized seal of good design excellence worldwide, placed by the world’s leading manufacturers on consumer products, packaging, websites, brochures, advertising, and other promotional and marketing materials.
In 1989, Mort Goldsholl deeded the design of the famous GOOD DESIGN logo to The Chicago Athenaeum and remains the Museum’s unique and highly valued trademark and copyright to designate the world’s most prestigious design.
“GOOD DESIGN was and continues to be an unprecedented movement, if you will, that was shaped by postwar American design at its zenith and by German Bauhaus aesthetics then established in Chicago in the late 1940s and 1950s. This blending of international style and modern aesthetic has had a lasting and profound effect ever since.”
The deadline for GOOD DESIGN 2010 is July 1, 2010.