About Good Design Award

The Good Design Award is a comprehensive design-promotion system that picks good design out of a variety of unfolding phenomena, and aims to enrich our lives, industries, and society as a whole by highlighting and celebrating these works. It is hosted by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion, a public interest incorporated foundation. It's precursor, the Good Design Selection System (or G Mark System), was founded in 1957 by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (the current Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), and has been engaged in this work for about 60 years. Submissions come from a wide range of fields, and roughly 1200 designs are recognized every year. Over 60 years, around 44,000 designs have been recognized by the awards. Recipients of a Good Design Award are granted use of the G Mark symbol, which has been an emblem of good design for over half a century.

How We Think About Design

Design is all around you
What is your objective when starting a new product, business, or project?
In fact, a design refers to the plan for achieving that objective. Color, shape, technology, and function each are means of realizing this objective. It is because people always play a central role in design that it has the power to bring progress to society. We consider good designs to be things that truly enrich people's lives or have the potential to do so.

See here for details.

Eligible Subjects

We accept a wide variety of submission subjects, regardless of whether they have a physical form or not. In judging, not only the “design as a noun” is considered, but many other facets - such as the underlying process, idea and relevance - weigh into the overall decision. Many kinds of things are currently entered into the Awards, including home appliances, cars, industrial goods, houses and architecture, services and software, types of communication like public relations and regional development efforts, business models, and R&D.

Our Ideals

If we think of design as a verb, then the Award is a work of design as well, and must work to improve itself every day. To define what good design is in these changing times, we must always be thoughtful, reflective, and in tune with society. Hence, we chosen five fundamental themes to be our guiding principles.

the creativity that guides the making of things
the ability to clearly see the nature of modern society
the vision to open up the future
the imagination to evoke a rich life and culture
the thoughtfulness to shape society and the environment

In other words, to engage in creative activity that is attractive, that perceives the true essence of things, is grounded in high ethics, and is for human beings. No matter how the particular quality of the richness we seek changes, these ideals remain constant. These words not only guide the actions of the Good Design Award, but also form its definition of good design.

How the Good Design Award Works

Rather than merely a program for choosing good designs, the Good Design Award is intended to lead to the creation of the society of the future by working together with applicants to discover new things.

  • Discovering quality standards in contemporary society and possibilities for the society of the future through screening of the Good Design Award
  • Broadly sharing discoveries together with winners through use of the G Mark
  • This sharing leads to awareness of new creations, which helps to sustain the quality standards of the future

Through this three-step cycle, the Good Design Award helps to further propel forward the progress of society.

Our Aim

The Good Design Award is not a competition to determine the superiority or inferiority of a design. Instead, it assesses designs from the perspective of wether or not it enriches life or society - in other words, the effect and use of that design. It then shines a light on the designs that fulfill that role. The ideas and methodology within good design provide clues for how to better approach our lives and work. These clues become a wellspring for future designs, and a driving force in the development of future society. The Good Design Award aims to be a mechanism that functions as a propellant in this chain reaction of creation. So, what is is the most important element in this chain?


The world around us is overflowing with things that are designed. However, if we only look at them, it may be difficult to recognize the ideas and principles behind them. We believe that by clearly communicating these merits and possibilities, more people will have these insights, and this will contribute to the chain of creation that invigorates society.

Providing the insights for the next innovation

This is the mission of the Good Design Awards. In an ideal world, every submission would be worthy of an award. When every submission exhibits its full potential to present users, industries and society, and— in addition to forming the next standard of quality— becomes the propellant for future progress, then our role will be over.

The Awards Process

From the call for entries in April through the first and second screening examinations, the November announcement and awards ceremony, and the March publication of the annual, the Good Design Award is engaged in activities for the better part of a year. The awards process can be divided into three categories: call for entries, judging, and the announcement of results.

  1. Call for Entries

    Every April, that fiscal year’s submission guidelines and jury members are announced on our website. Companies, groups and designers who wish to submit a design have until the end of May to the beginning of June to do so. In the case of the Long Life Design Award, users and designers are invited to nominate a design for submission.

  2. Judging

    The judging committee begins the screening process after reconfirming the principles of the Good Design Award, as well as the examination policy. In the first screening, information submitted through the website is assessed for the concept and value behind the design, as well as for how well it follows the principles and guidelines of the Awards. In the second screening, the actual design is examined from many different perspectives. In particular, there is an emphasis on actively discovering the points of the design that are excellent. After much discussion, we decide wether or not to grant it a Good Design Award.

  4. Announcement of Results

    The results are announced in the end of September to the beginning of October. From this point on, award recipients are granted use of the G Mark. Later, there is a exhibition of all the awarded designs. Many people attend the exhibition, including members of the design industry, distributors, media, students, groups of inspectors from overseas, and the public. A variety of events are held around the same time, from presentations to sales initiatives, and the Good Design Award winners are presented with an official certificate. In the following March, the previous year's awarded designs are collected and published in the Good Design Award annual.

The Merits of Entering

If you are awarded a Good Design Award, you are able communicate to the public that your entry is an example of society-leading good design. This will be useful in promoting the your design, as well as in enhancing the image of your company. It will also provide many opportunities for communicating and promoting your design, through participating in an exhibition of the winning entries as well as other events. There are a variety of other merits as well, some of which are introduced here.

The Award Certificate

Good Design Award winners are presented with an Award Certificate for each winning entry. Recipients of the Good Design Best 100 and Special Awards will also be presented with a trophy.

Featured in the Online Gallery (Good Design Finder)

All previous Good Design Award recipients are featured in the online gallery. Since 2000, the online gallery contains not only photos, specifications and the names of the company and designer responsible for the awarded entry, but also a written outline of the design, comments from the designer, and notes from members of the jury explaining why they chose the piece. The gallery is fully searchable, and stands as a shared asset of design. This online gallery is linked to from all over the world, and will lead to new opportunities for projects and collaboration.

Comments from the Jury

Award recipients will be sent a summary of comments from the jury for each winning entry, outlining what points of each design were highly evaluated.

Participation in the G Exhibition

Award recipients are invited to participate in an exhibition of the year's winning designs, the G Exhibition. It is widely attended by the design industry, as well as by distributors, members of the press, students, international guests and inspectors, and the public. It is an ideal opportunity to appeal to a large number and variety of people.

Participation in the Awards Ceremony and Round Table/Informal Gathering

Award recipients are invited to the awards ceremony conducted at the G Exhibition, as well as to an informal gathering with members of the jury afterwards. This is a good opportunity to get media exposure, and to interact with the members of the jury as well as fellow award recipients.

Use of the G Mark

Award recipients may use the G Mark, as proof of the award. The G Mark is only attached to acknowledged examples of good design, and as such its social value is very highly recognized, and it is widely popular with consumers. Please use the G Mark in promoting your award-winning design.

Publication in the Good Design Award Annual

The awarded designs are published in the Good Design Award annual. This is not only a public record of that year's Good Design Awards, but a document that archives the present state of design for posterity. It is a world-class design annual.

Photo:Takashi Mochizuki

Opportunities for Media Exposure and Participation in Events

There will be increased opportunities for being featured in magazines, in special displays within retail stores, and for being invited to international exhibitions and trade shows. Also, through events and exhibitions both hosted by and affiliated with the Good Design Awards, there will be many opportunities for exposure in the media and in retail storefronts.


The Good Design Award is advancing its global activities through cooperation with various organizations both international and domestic, and with the design awards and associations of many countries, with particular focus in the Asian region.

Cooperation with International Design Awards

With the aim of encouraging and developing design in the Asian region, the Good Design Award is currently involved in projects with Thailand, India and Singapore, sharing expertise and cooperating on promotional activities.

Design Excellence Award (Thailand)

In March 2008, the Thai government established the Design Excellence Award as an institution for the promotion of design. The Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP), which had lent its support in setting up the award, and the Thai Department of Export Promotion (the current Department of International Trade Promotion) inked a cooperation agreement between the Good Design Award and the Design Excellence Award. Since then, the Awards have dispatched jury members to each other's screenings, Design Excellence Award winners have been invited to enter the Good Design Awards, both institutions have worked to promote their winning designs by holding exhibitions of awarded products in each other's countries, and have engaged in a wide range of other activities.

I Mark (India)

In April 2010, the JDP and the India Design Council, India's organization for the execution of design policy, entered into a cooperation agreement for design promotion. Following this, the Good Design Award provided support and expertise in how to set up and operate a national design award based off of their own model, culminating in the formation of the India Design Mark (I Mark) in 2012. Experts from Japan have also joined in the judging process, and the design awards have continued to operate without a hitch. The Good Design Award has exhibited its award recipients alongside Indian products at the I Mark's examination hall when it is open to the public, in order to promote Japanese products in the Indian market. Since 2013, I Mark recipients can be admitted directly into the second stage of screenings in the Good Design Awards, automatically passing the initial screening examination, and vice versa. This has only made it easier to promote Japanese products in the Indian market, and mutual cooperation between these two institutions continues to progress.

SG Mark (Singapore)

Since 2012, the JDP has been cooperating with the Singapore Design Council (DSG), an organization within the Ministry of Communications and Information, on the formation of a national design award based on Singapore's design policies. In December of 2013, the JDP inked a memorandum of understanding for cooperation on design awards and promotion with the Design Business Chamber Singapore (DBCS), an association of business leaders and designers as well as a branch of the DSG. In March 2014, the first Singapore Good Design Mark (SG Mark) awards were held, and experts from Japan also joined in the judging. SG Mark winners can be admitted directly into the second stage screenings of the Good Design Awards, and the same is true for G Mark recipients in the SG Mark screenings. In this way, the Good Design Award provides an opportunity to make inroads into Singapore, one of Asia's major economic hubs.

Cooperation with Design Organizations

The Good Design Award is engaged in cooperation with design promotion agencies in many countries.

Cooperation in the Good Design Award Judging Process

The Good Design Award cooperates with the following design-promotion organizations in Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. With the help of their judges, it holds local screening examinations for local submissions from within each of these regions.

  • Korea Institute of Design Promotion (KIDP)
  • Taiwan Design Center (TDC)
  • Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC)

Cooperation with Design Organizations

The Good Design Award is involved in cooperation with the following design organizations, both from overseas and within Japan.

  • Associazione per il Disegno Industriale / ADI
  • Corporate Synergy Development Center, Taiwan/ CSD
  • D & AD
  • Design & Crafts Council Ireland / DCCI
  • Design Center of the Philippines / DCP
  • Design Singapore Council / DSG
  • GOOD DESIGN Australia
  • Hong Kong Design Centre / HKDC
  • Industrial Designers Society of Turkey / ETMK
  • Industrial Technology Research Institute / ITRI
  • International Council of Design / ico-D
  • International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers / IFI
  • Japan Industrial Designers' Association / JIDA
  • Japan Interior Designer's Association / JID
  • Japan Craft Design Association / JCDA
  • Japan Package Design Association / JPDA
  • Japan Graphic Designers Association / JAGDA
  • Japan Jewellery Designers Association / JJDA
  • Japan Sign Design Association / SDA
  • Japan Design Space Association / DSA
  • Japan Design Protect Association / JDPA
  • Korea Association of Industrial Designers / KAID
  • Korea Institute of Design Promotion / KIDP
  • Metal Industries Research & Development Centre / MIRDC
  • Seoul Design Foundation / SDF
  • Taiwan Design Center / TDC
  • The International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media / CUMULUS
  • The Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects / SIA
  • World Design Organization / WDO

Promotion Cooperation

In cooperation with a wide range of agencies in Japan and around the world, the Good Design Award publicizes both the award and award winning objects. See here for information on specific initiatives.


The Good Design Awards communicates information through a variety of media.

JDP Website

Founded in June of 2011, Design News is a website and online archive that features a wide range of information pertaining to design. It highlights new activities designers are involved in, events and seminars about design, and articles about design trends from both within Japan and overseas. It provides a broad array of information concerning areas such as society, lifestyle, industry and environment. As the state of design continues to evolve from moment to moment, Design News is committed to capturing and communicating the "Now" of design.

Free Email Magazine: JDP Mail Magazine

JDP Mail Magazine is an email magazine that features the latest design news, centered around topics relating to the Good Design Awards and other design events. It aims to be the go-to communication media for people working in all design-related fields, and provides a diverse and broad range of information. Please take a look at it for a current picture of the constantly changing state of the Good Design Awards.

Good Design Awards Official Facebook

The Good Design Awards official Facebook account. Featuring information on the latest moves by the Good Design Awards, and related events.

Good Design Awards Official Youtube

The Good Design Awards official Youtube account features a wide variety of information relating to the awards, such as interviews with jury members, presentations by awarded designers, and videos explaining the submissions process.

Good Design Awards Official Ustream

The Good Design Awards official Ustream account features streaming broadcasts of a variety of events, including press conferences, the Best 100 designers presentations, and the awards ceremony.


Survey on the GDA

The Good Design Award regularly conducts a survey on the Good Design Award. The latest survey conducted in 2014 shows that 53.8% people understand that the “Good Design Award” is an “award to select good design” and 85.5% people know the name “Good Design Award”. It also shows that 55.9% understand that the “G Mark” is a “symbol of winning the Good Design Award” and its recognition rate is 79.0% including those who know this mark.
You can see the survey results in what follows.

The Good Design Award Recognition Rate Survey

  • Survey results in 2014 (PDF/2MB)
    Survey period: December 2014
    Survey objects: Men and women aged 15 and over in Japan (stratified sampling based on the composition ratio of age and sex of the Census)
    Number of valid responses: 2,100
    Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey
  • Survey results in 2011 (PDF/1MB)
    Survey period: April 2011
    Survey objects: Men and women aged 15 and over in Japan (stratified sampling based on the composition ratio of age and sex of the Census)
    Number of valid responses: 2,100
    Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey
  • Survey results in 2007 (PDF/840KB)
    Survey period: August 2007
    Survey objects: Men and women aged 15 and over in Japan (stratified sampling based on the composition ratio of age and sex of the Census)
    Number of valid responses: 2,035
    Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey
  • Survey results in 2005 (PDF/450KB)
    Survey period: August 2005
    Survey objects: Men and women aged 15 and over in Japan (stratified sampling based on the composition ratio of age and sex of the Census)
    Number of valid responses: 2,015
    Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey

Questionnaire Survey on the Good Design Award

Awareness Survey on Design

The Good Design Award regularly conducts an awareness survey on design. It also conducts a detailed awareness survey on an irregular basis.

Awareness Survey on Design (in Japan)

  • Survey results in 2014 (PDF/3MB)
    Survey period: December 2014
    Survey objects: Men and women aged 15 and over in Japan (stratified sampling based on the composition ratio of age and sex of the Census)
    Number of valid responses: 2,100
    Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey
  • Survey results in 2011(PDF/990KB)
    Survey period: April 2011
    Survey objects: Men and women aged 15 and over in Japan (stratified sampling based on the composition ratio of age and sex of the Census)
    Number of valid responses: 2,100
    Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey

Awareness Survey on Design (overseas)

  • Survey results in 2014 (PDF/3.5MB)
    Survey period: December 2014
    Survey area: South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
    Survey objects: Men and women aged 20 and over in the region (equal sampling with men / women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s and over)
    Number of valid responses: 300 persons in each region
    Survey method: Internet questionnaire survey

The History and Future of the Good Design Awards

The Good Design Awards have been celebrating good design for almost 60 years, ever since their founding in 1957 as the Good Design Product Selection System (or G Mark System), under the sponsorship of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Over these six decades, society has been confronted with many different issues, and as these changed with the times, so did our expectations for the role of design. Even now, the issues we face and our expectations for design continue to evolve from one moment to the next. Through all of this change, the Good Design Awards has flexibly adapted its structure to meet the needs and values of the times. The path they have charted is considered a milestone of Japanese design and industry. Here we will follow the evolution of the Good Design Awards by examining the historical events and social conditions that shaped this path. We will also examine other milestones that were passed by Japanese design and industry along the way, and take a look into the future, in five phases.

Phase One: The Age of Restoration

Reforming the Social Consciousness through Design
「The G Mark System was officially established in 1957, but its origins date back to 1949. At this time the Treaty of San Francisco (1952) had not yet been signed, and Japan was still under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, more commonly referred to in Japan as GHQ (General Headquarters). During this year, GHQ received a protest from the United Kingdom, complaining that Japan was exporting textiles that misappropriated British designs. This led to the filing of numerous similar protests about copied textile designs from other developed nations like Germany and the United States, and the matter quickly developed into a diplomatic issue. In response to these complaints, the government revised their procedures for export inspections, as well as for the registration and authorization of designs for the export market. While these measures found some success, a movement soon started to build within the government and private sector that believed that regulation was not enough—that it was necessary to encourage and promote designs with originality in order to fundamentally deal with the issue of imitation products. As part of this movement, the Council of Design Promotion was formed within the Patent Office in 1956.
Around the same time, the United Kingdom, believing that design had much to contribute to the post-war economic recovery and trade development, set up the Council of Industrial Design in 1944. Its purpose was to select and highlight well-designed products. This idea soon spread to many other countries, including Japan. Interested individuals formed groups that collaborated with department stores, international exchange organizations and art museums to exhibit well-designed products to the public.
These two trends converged, and in 1957 the Special Section for Good Design was formed within the Council for Design Promotion, tasked with identifying examples of good design. The selection committee was chaired by the architect Junzo Sakakura and consisted of 42 experts, who soon set about selecting products. This was the moment when the Good Design Awards were born. At the time even the word “design” was not well known to the public, and it was hardly practiced by businesses. It was in such a climate that the selection committee members went out into the city in search of good design. This arduous process required significant labor and perseverance, but it was driven by a strong belief that design was necessary to develop the nation’s industry and improve the life of its citizens.
At the same time, there was a burgeoning movement within domestic businesses to form in-house design departments. Matsushita Electric Industrial (present-day Panasonic Corporation) set up their first design department in 1951. Tokyo Shibaura Electric (present-day Toshiba) followed suit in 1953, and this movement soon expanded to many other businesses. It was against this backdrop of businesses gradually adopting the practice of design that in 1963, seven years after it’s founding, the G Mark system shifted from a closed-selection model to a public-participation model. It no longer sought out products unilaterally, but allowed for an open submissions process. The G Mark system itself was gradually refined and adjusted by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (the current Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), and from this time on, the early objective of “design to promote exports” came into clear focus.
At the time, Japanese export products acquired a market through a philosophy of “if the function is the same, aim for higher quality and lower price.” Design as practiced by businesses came to concentrate less on the pursuit of originality than it did on proper craftsmanship and manufacturing. In response, the G Mark system’s selection process introduced a quality inspection component in 1967, and it realigned its standards to place the emphasis on the total quality of a product, from concept through execution. As a result, the G Mark came to represent a standard of high quality product.
As far as the economic trends of the time, 1964 was the year that Japan—taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Tokyo Olympics—entered into a period of sustained and rapid growth driven by increased consumption. By this time the post-war national infrastructure was in place, and together with the wide circulation of cars, air conditioners and color TVs, sometimes referred to as the New Three Sacred Treasures (from mythological Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, a legendary sword, mirror and jewel brought to earth by the divine ancestor of the Japanese imperial line), transformed the country into an economic power. The trade balance, long in deficit, turned into a surplus.
Growth from the post-war reconstruction into an economic power, steps to prevent the imitation and copying of products, the introduction of design practice within the private sector, and the beginning of a systemized encouragement of good design—these factors made this era one of restoration, where Japan worked to reclaim the identity it had lost.

Phase Two: The Age of the Japan Original

Internationalization and The Japan Original that Focused on Spiritual Happiness
The 1970s saw progress, with an increased awareness of design among management, and recognition of the G Mark surpassing 65% among the public.
The Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP) was founded in 1969, as a comprehensive organization for the promotion of design. In 1970 they were granted exclusive license to the trademark rights of the G Mark by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), and in 1974 were entrusted with the G Mark selection duties by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. From that point on, the JDP focused exclusively on the implementation of these tasks.
The Japanese economy was growing at a steady rate despite a temporary setback from the Oil Crisis, and growth in trade was bullish as well. As exemplified by the 1970 Osaka World’s Expo, there was also a growing desire to contribute to global society. Economic and industrial policy, which until then had focused first and foremost on manufacturing and export trade, began to shift toward improving quality of life for the average citizen.
In the latter half of the 1970s, spiritual happiness came to be seen as more important than material prosperity. Instead of simply pursuing efficiency and ease-of-use in a time of plenty, the main theme of design became one of how to respond to the latent desire within the human heart to lead a full and enriching life. It was in this context that Sony released the Walkman in 1979 and the Profeel TV monitor in 1980, and that the Honda Motor Company released the City in 1981 and Civic in 1983. Many other products that had strong global appeal soon followed. Because of this shift of focus, it was an era that gave birth to many products befitting the title of the Japan Original.
In order to honor the cutting edge designs that led this era, the G Mark system introduced a grand prize for each category in 1977, and in 1980, an overall Good Design Grand Prize, awarded to the design that most symbolized that year. In 1975, applications were received from Braun of Germany and Phillips of the Netherlands, and the G Mark system gradually began to take on a more international color. Furthermore, the G Mark system redefined its goal as “Comprehensive Improvement in Quality of Life,” and expanded its eligible products to all industrial goods in 1984. Many examples of good design were soon born within categories of consumer products such as home appliances, which not only raised the awareness of the average citizen toward the products they used, but also qualitatively enriched their lives.
At the same time, it was hard to say that the quality of the public environment in fields such as labor, medicine and education were keeping up with the progress in other areas. To address this, the G Mark system actively promoted design practice in these fields under the banner of “Comprehensive Improvement in Quality of Life.” In addition to expanding the market by broadening what could be subject to design, this was an opportunity to spread knowledge of design methods—which until then had been accumulating within individual consumer products—into new areas. Experts from a wide variety of fields came to participate in the selection committees, and the G Mark system evolved into a more open structure.

Phase Three: The Era of Changing Values

Changing Values and a New Beginning for the Good Design Awards
By the 1980s, the Japan Original had swept the world and given rise to a significant trade imbalance, which brought with it some problems. Friction over the trade issue was particularly centered in the United States, and was known in Japan as “Japan-bashing.” Meanwhile on the domestic side, real estate speculation led to an economic bubble that would eventually collapse in 1991. The collapse provided an opportunity to reevaluate the prevailing values, but it wasn’t the only event that threw those values into question. The Great Hanshin Earthquake struck in 1995, and the destruction of numerous buildings and an elevated highway shocked many. This was also the year of the Tokyo Subway Sarin Attack. Like the Enron Scandal, the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, and the September 11th attacks of 2001 in the United States, these incidents raised questions about many of the things that people believed in, and created a collective sense that it was necessary to reassess society’s priorities.
Around this time in the leading design nations of the West, new currents were forming in the field, such as those that sought to proactively engage with global environmental problems. 1997 saw the passage of the Kyoto Protocol, and words such as “ecology,” “universal,” and “sustainable,” started to appear frequently within the design world. It was in this context that the G Mark system introduced three new special awards in 1997, that set out new objectives for Japanese design to tackle in order to remain internationally competitive. These were for Interaction Design (design in dialogue with its user), Universal Design (design that doesn’t discriminate in how it’s used) and Ecological Design (sustainable design that takes into account the environment). It was hoped that the establishment of these awards would lead to concrete progress toward these objectives.
The G Mark system itself also went through a reassessment. Its foundational goal of accelerating the introduction of design practice within industry had largely been achieved, and there was much discussion over what kind of role it should take on moving forward. As a result, against the backdrop of a general slimming down of the administration, the Good Design Product Selection System as sponsored by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry was ended in 1997, and relaunched as the privatized Good Design Awards under the sponsorship of the Japan Industrial Design Promotion Association.
Accompanying this change from “Selection” to “Award,” the judging standards were dramatically revised to focus on assessing and commending a product’s points of excellence. The organization’s activities shifted toward the two-part goal of finding good design and then communicating it to society. As part of this reorientation, the examination hall in which the products were inspected and judged—until now closed to outsiders—was opened to the public once the judging had concluded. Furthermore, they sought to expand their conception of design, which until then had been limited to products; new categories were formed towards this purpose. The New Territory Design Category (1999) highlighted work that actively pushed the boundaries of the discipline, and the Communication Design Category (2001) awarded excellence in the design of information and media. As the values of society underwent a period of gradual change, the Good Design Awards were transformed to better reflect them.

Phase Four: The Era of Diversifying Values

The Evolution of Information and a New Stance for the Good Design Awards
The 2000s saw the rapid development of information and communication technology (ICT). From 2000 on, the rate of Internet adoption in Japan dramatically increased; 9.2% of the population had been online in 1997, and this grew to over 70% by 2005. The 8,670,000 mobile phone contracts that existed in 1996 grew roughly tenfold to 85,770,000 contracts by 2005. The development of ICT also unleashed waves of globalization within the business world.
In 2000, the Good Design Awards began accepting submissions through the Internet, and the number of applications from abroad started to increase. In response to these trends, the Good Design Awards began to highlight good design not just within Japan but also overseas, with a particular initial focus in Asia. Starting in 2003, the Good Design Awards ASEAN Design Selection was held over three years, honoring excellent design from the ASEAN member states. In 2008, they helped Thailand set up its Design Excellence Award. In addition to providing support, they exchanged judges and began engaging in other cooperation. Meanwhile in Europe, taking advantage of opportunity provided by the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Good Design Awards, they exhibited at the Milano Salone in Italy. Due to its popularity, it returned a total of three times through 2009.
The rise of ICT ushered in more than just globalization. It enabled us to acquire information from a wide variety of sources, and made it possible for anyone to transmit information to the whole world. As a result, the voice of ordinary citizens started to exert a large influence—an ability that had previously been limited to the mass media—and it became possible to easily encounter new and different ways of thinking and living. This led to a diversification of social values. Within rapid globalization and diversifying values, the role of design was widely debated. This debate was waged within the Good Design Awards as well. The future role of design, and how the Awards should orient itself in relation to this evolution, was the subject of many discussions within the organization.
In 2008, the Good Design Awards decided to make a change in direction. Up until this point they had been judging from an industry perspective, but from then on they would judge from the perspective of a consumer in the near future. This shift from a supply-side mentality to a demand-side one would entail major reforms, but the Good Design Awards took on the challenge. As a result, the composition of the Awards was reassessed. The categories were changed from the previous department-based divisions to a new grouping into the four areas of Body, Life, Industry and Society. In addition, new awards were formed, such as the Sustainable Design Award (2008) and the Frontier Design Award (2009). Finally, the five concepts of Humanity, Essence, Innovation, Aesthetics, and Ethics were chosen as the themes that would form the fundamental principles of the Good Design Awards.
The development of ICT created great change, stimulating globalization, bringing about new ways of relating to information, and leading to a diversification of values. The Good Design Awards too underwent a big shift in perspective—from supply-side logic to demand-side logic—based on observing matters and their underlying relationships from the position of the consumer.

Phase Five: The Age of Sharing

What is Good Design Today?
The rapid development of ICT in the 2000s has only accelerated further in the years since, and now all sorts of things are being connected by networks. Globalization continues to gain speed and momentum. The Good Design Awards too have increased their international coordination. Building on their cooperation with Thailand on the formation of the Design Excellence Award in 2008, they lent their support to India’s I Mark in 2012 and Singapore’s SG Mark in 2014.
The advancement of social networking services and cloud technology has led to even further interconnectivity and information sharing. Through open-source development and the rise of fab labs and the personal fabrication movement, this current of digital information-sharing has evolved into sharing and cooperation in the physical world, and is becoming a driving force in society. Within the Good Design Awards, the question of how to build up structures of sharing and cooperation is a major subject of discussion. As part of engaging with this question, the interactive examination was introduced in 2013, in which the applicants and the judging committee can directly share information with each other.
It was in this period of change that the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 struck. Much of what happened shattered long-held assumptions. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, many products disappeared from the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores. Lights vanished from the nighttime landscape. Many who witnessed this situation found themselves asking, “What is it that we can do right now? What is truly necessary?” We believe this marked a major shift in values. The time has come for the Good Design Awards to once again rethink the question, “What is good design?”
The Good Design Awards has kept asking this question throughout its history, but now that another shift in values has occurred, a new answer is needed—a redefinition of good design, and of the Good Design Awards themselves. As design has evolved in recent years, its role in society has also undergone major change. As we have gradually started to lose the physical things around us, intangible functions like services and systems have begun to manifest within our lives. In this changing landscape, design is taking on the role of an environmental medium through which people are able to fully sense and be aware of the conditions that surround them. From now on, we believe that there will be a growing need to think about the meaning of design from this perspective.