Reading Time: 4 min | Nov 2021

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Why the new iF jury feedback means more than "Yes" or "No" for participants

What are the challenges when trying to measure design? We spoke with Darragh Murphy, data specialist and co-creator of our new jury feedback poster – a tool to raise the international standards of design.

iF has been working on innovative processes and tools for the iF DESIGN AWARD 2021 for more than a year. One of the most important new benefits for our participants is the jury feedback poster, which is based on new criteria and the new iF scorecard.

In the future, all participants, regardless of whether they have reached the Final Jury or have already failed the Online Preselection, will receive for each submission a jury feedback including the newly developed iF Scorecard. For the implementation, iF worked together with Darragh Murphy, Senior Partner of DUCO, which was founded in 2012 with the idea of improving design performance based on data and metrics.

What are the challenges when trying to measure design? To what degree do participants benefit from the jury feedback? Frank Zierenberg, Project Director of the iF DESIGN AWARD, arranged an interview with Darragh to discuss these and other questions.

Darragh Murphy

The Irishman Darragh Murphy had worked as an industrial designer for various design consultancies and manufacturers before he co-founded the management consultancy DUCO in Brazil. The best companies in design management are also the best exporters – this correlation was one of Darragh’s first research results and increased his curiosity to find more.

Frank Zierenberg (FZ): With the registration deadlines and the jury coming up, we get more and more questions and requests on our new jury process. This is great and, in my opinion, it is very exciting to see our plans turn into reality after a lot of planning and discussions. On a scale from one to ten, how excited are you about the jury’s first proceeding coming up?

Darragh Murphy (DM): I’m excited for iF taking this new approach. The new iF judging criteria brings transparency to the judging process by directing judges to be more methodical in their assessment. By showing data and the averages of other sets of entries, it is possible for the entrant to see how they compare universally, in their category and in their discipline. For example, a score of 65 for the criteria ‘function’ by itself doesn’t mean much for an entrant, but when compared against the Finalist average for the criterion, the category average and discipline average, it starts to mean something.

FZ: The measurability of design is a real problem in the design industry. Design is said to be too subjective. Unlike engineers, who work with clear deterministic data to develop a product, designers work on several levels. Not only technology, but also communicative and symbolic facets play a role. At iF, this made us think about how to give our participants more insights into the decision of the jury and to provide a more useful feedback. In order to understand the jury process and complexity of the challenge, you were part of the jury in 2019. How was your experience?

DM: The jury session was an incredible experience. The volume and variety of submissions, the international mix of experts, and the smooth organization that went into it was impressive. The expertise of the jurors, their opinions and the discourse that they create is what adds value to the iF DESIGN AWARD. I looked at all aspects of the jury process to see what data could be captured, from the time taken to consider an entry, to transcribing the conversation between judges. Furthermore, my team and I looked at all possible metrics that can be gained from the iF WORLD DESIGN INDEX, jury comments and the new judging criteria. We found over 50 metrics with which we started developing the feedback poster, ranging from the number of entries in the category and development time to target groups. Our goal was very simple – interpret this data into useful insights for the participant.

Example of Evaluation - iF Scorecard

The newly developed iF Scorecard includes scores for individual criteria. All participants will be able to compare their result with others to see where they stand in the field of all competitors.

Samples of the iF jury feedback poster

All participants will receive a detailed jury report. This will give the participants more insights into the reason for the decision of the jurors and will include helpful data on trends and observations iF collected during the jury process.

Frank Zierenberg

Frank Zierenberg has been working at iF for almost 20 years now. He studied industrial and product design at the University of Applied Arts and Science Hannover. Already in his diploma project, Frank designed – among other things – tools to teach design knowledge in primary schools.

FZ: When working together with you, we could really feel the pieces of a puzzle coming together. With the jury feedback poster, we implemented something that was on our agenda for quite some time. One of the biggest benefits is that participants gain insights from the jury feedback – that’s way more than an awarded or not awarded result.

DM: In our experience, designers like to post on the wall external validation of their work for their colleagues to see. More than just an award, the poster is a tool for the design community to improve itself, be more accountable and to raise the standard of design globally. A lot of information can be gathered from just these few columns of data. Was there consistency across the judges? Did the reality of the product radically change the opinion of the judges? Is the entry strong in its category but weak in its discipline? What can be learned from other entries in this discipline? The poster may appear simple, but a lot of work went into creating a new and original dimension to a design award. This is the first time anything like this has been done, I am convinced that more features could be added to the poster as confidence and technology capacity grows over the next editions of the iF DESIGN AWARD.

FZ: I totally agree. I really see the jury feedback poster as the basis for future developments. We already published some data in our  which provides country and industry specific statistics coming from the award. The new process and metrics that we developed now open up many possibilities to expand this.

DM: In the future, it will be possible to identify in what way entries from design studios perform better than in-house design teams. The analysis of the impact criterion will be more critical. We will be able to see to what extent it plays a role in determining a winning entry and who is the leader in that regard. This is especially important in the age of the circular economy.

FZ: So I guess, this was not the last time we worked together. There is still a lot we can accomplish and I certainly look forward to this! Thanks for your time.