Outline of Good Design Award winners

2012 | Message from Chairman

On the Occasion of Award Announcements

This year's award screenings were special in that we evaluated entries from the unprecedented perspectives of their interactivity and the systems they form.
I believe that the meaning design holds for society has remained essentially the same for some time. On the other hand, we are seeing a significant change in the interplay of design and industry. The basic nature of industry itself is changing rapidly, especially in Japan.
Although industry's role in production or manufacturing-offering products with particular functions or for specific purposes- has endured, society no longer evaluates these products based solely on their performance relative to others in a product category; the public or environmental impact of products is also important. Moreover, if industry hopes to earn social respect, it must produce things truly needed by society. This expectation seems critical in Japan today. In fact, Japan has played a role in driving this kind of globally significant change in technologies or key components for some time, in many ways.
We can also observe that besides innovating, people are actively combining or reinterpreting proven solutions or existing systems that already serve certain functions in society to get more out of them.
What is the role of design today, under conditions that are transforming industry? Can design lead industries in transition to a brighter future? And can design truly enhance everyday life? Pondering this, we realized the significance of evaluating Good Design Award entries by their interactivity and the systems they form.
In design, interaction often calls to mind user interface considerations such as hardware and software usability and system responsiveness. At the screenings, however, we interpreted the concept more broadly.
Specifically, we considered the openness and accessibility of what lies at the heart of award candidates, and how it engages users or consumers. Do the entries promise to broaden our horizons, and can they somehow grow with us? This was the broader interactivity we evaluated.
When this basic interactivity supports smarter, more convenient relationships between people and things, we can appreciate the well-designed and user-friendly systems they form.
Perceiving how a designer's work excels in its interactivity and the system it forms involves careful examination of underlying qualities that are not readily apparent, which we must draw out. Toward this end, in this year's Good Design Award entries, I advised our judges to look for beauty and usability. Neither quality can be appreciated solely by examining physical shapes or forms. We drew our conclusions after a decidedly arduous process, as we attempted to read industrial, economic, and social trends. But unless we focus intently on this, design in Japan will not evolve, and we will fall behind those who are taking design in new directions. We believe that the Good Design Awards should encourage people to examine social perspectives and share society's goals by considering the beauty and usability in design that society craves.
At the same time, we can also appreciate the beauty in venerable design that is consistent with people's general perceptions and behavior. What comes to mind when people mention design is natural and does not require radical changes in routine; it possesses an honest beauty that has earned people's trust. The Good Design Awards will always honor this kind of design.
Our ongoing public recognition of both timely and time-honored design helps position honest aesthetics as a cornerstone of everyday life.

Naoto Fukasawa
Chairman of the Jury, Good Design Award 2012