Urenio Watch Watch: Innovation

The 2006 Product Design Awards

Sponsored by BusinessWeek and judged independently by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), the 2006 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEAs) is one of the most important of its kind.

BusinessWeek states that “Managers everywhere are turning to rapid ethnography, usability, special materials, and aesthetics—the tools of design—to innovate. The differentiation of products and services increasingly requires a much higher level of execution. In design, the bar is raised.”

According to the magazine, the key surprise of this year awards is the strong showing by Asia, which is clearly one of the most striking trends. Panasonic won six awards, twice as many as the next winner and far more than any U.S. or European corporation. China’s Lenovo Group computer maker took two golds, the most of any company. Samsung Group won a gold and two silvers and still leads all global corporations, including Apple Computer, for the most idea wins over the past five years.

In 2006, according to the IDSA, “the percentage of gold winners with design teams from Asia” came to 25.9%. This is a dramatic increase from 7.9% of the golds last year and 8.1% in 2004. The strong showing by Asia reflects a tremendous investment in design. Of the 1,533 entry kits sold for the contest, Asian companies and institutions bought 318. This is up from a dozen, mostly bought by the Japanese, a decade ago.

BusinessWeek magazine provides in-depth looks at the winners, slide shows, interviews and more.