Aug 15 2019

ambigence on awards as a mouthpiece

Awards are controversial in the interior design industry. They can help unknown market participants to achieve a higher profile. But the effort and costs involved in entering a competition are enormous. We interviewed furniture start-up ambigence about its motivation, selection criteria and its successes to date with awards in the furniture industry.

1.) How many competitions do you take part in each year? When was the last time that you entered for an award?

ambigence was only launched in the beginning of 2018 – we’re still a very young company. That’s why we’re even prouder that we’ve already won five awards in such a short time. We won the German Design Award 2019 and the Iconic Award 2019 for our concept “The PANEL is the new fitting”.

Both of the integrated functions that we’ve developed in collaboration with our network partners have also won awards. The ViZard integrated flap fitting by Hettich received a Red Dot Award 2019 and an interzum award 2019 in the category Best of the Best.

The Unico integrated drop-down flap fitting by Effegibrevetti also won an interzum award 2019 in the High Product Quality category. We’re currently in the application process again for a design prize and an innovation prize.

2.) What criteria do you consider when looking for competitions or announcements?

An amalgamation of design and technology is absolutely the focus for us. As a network company, our goal is to advance innovations in the furniture industry together with other companies and to implement ideas that a single company cannot realise on its own.

Our approach is naturally very future-oriented, and we’re working on products that are hardly imaginable for some today. And that’s exactly what plays a large role in the competitions that we enter. They must promote innovative projects and products, and have the courage to think outside the box.

3.)  How many prizes have you won, and what do you see as their benefits for your company?

We’ve won the prizes mentioned – the German Design Award, Iconic Award, Red Dot Award and the interzum award. For this to happen within 18 months is of course a huge compliment, and it gives us as founders the opportunity to increase ambigence’s profile.

For us, the awards serve as a mouthpiece we can use to tell the world about our plans and to find like-minded people. We naturally want our ideas to surprise people, but we also want to be a source of inspiration for designers and furniture manufacturers.

4, What’s your view of the criticism that there are too many design prizes now and that they’re too expensive and too much work for smaller companies? Can you understand these points and perhaps other criticisms, too, and what do you think would make awards better and more valuable for the furniture industry?

Of course, entering an award – especially if you hope to win – is not cheap. This can be a deterrent, in particular for small companies or start-ups like us. That’s why we collaborate with our partners on awards, just like we do in our day-to-day work.

I'd like to see awards increase their focus much more on what can be achieved together, rather than simply the mere presentation of a product from an individual company. Ultimately, the objective is to advance the entire furniture sector and strengthen its position in comparison with other industries. This is something that we can only achieve together, and it should be recognised accordingly in design prizes.

In terms of the increase in the number of prizes awarded, I can understand the criticism. It’s getting more and more difficult to keep a clear overview in the jungle of awards. We naturally take care to ensure that the design prizes we select have a high penetration and that they are important in the furniture industry. I think that much greater use should be made of awards to get feedback from consumers.

Of course, it’s an honour when a product is selected by a jury of experts. But what good is it if the product is ultimately not accepted by the end consumer? In my view, that would definitely make design awards even more valuable for the furniture industry.

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Portrait of Franziska Osterhaus
Franziska Osterhaus standard.toggle-bookmark Marketing
ambigence GmbH & Co. KG
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