Two designs from design agency VanBerlo were crowned with an iF gold award, an award signifying the best out of all the entries, during the annual iF awards ceremony in Munich. In total 75 iF gold awards were presented, which the jury chose out of 5,295 entries from 53 countries. The design agency from Eindhoven took home the coveted awards for their work on the RESQTEC P4 (which helps rescuers free victims from a crashed vehicle) and Air Wick Life Scents (an air freshener).

The jury process for the awards took place last month in a huge hall in the port of Hamburg, where the more than 5,000 submissions were prepared for the sixty iF judges. The crème de la crème of international design was there – and Thomas Paulen, designer and VanBerlo CEO, was one of them. His ‘own’ designs were obviously not judged by him, but there was still plenty to enjoy. “From very small objects and online design to complete cars and sawing machines, it was all there. The iF awards are a great honor, so every designer wants to be there. ”

Thomas Paulen
Thomas Paulen

Paulen, with two other jury members, had to assess the ‘professional products’-category. How did that work? “First of all we had to clarify what a ‘good design’ really is, because obviously everyone jury member must more or less apply the same standards. Where do you set the bar, how many winners will you permit? For example, we agreed that a known design for a new product still may present a review as ‘good design’.”

The most interesting part of the day: allowed to roam all products and to veto an award

Then it was important to run a tight schedule. “For us there were about 120 designs, this really takes you all day to do it properly. And that was true for all 20 categories.” Finally about a third of the entries received the designation ‘good design’, but only after another round of assessment. More precisely: after finishing each category, the jury members scattered throughout the hall and they were allowed to veto any award, for example because it was judged as a copy of a different design. Paulen: “That’s a really interesting part of the jury process. You walk around and get to see all the honoured designs and every now and then you hear jury members shouting that something is a ‘rip-off‘. And then, of course, then the debate really starts.”

The climax was at the end of the day: awarding 75 gold awards: “Every juror has a gold sticker, which could be attached to a design that really stands out.”

The final winners, the 75 best design performance of the year, were invited on stage in Munich, last night. VanBerlo came up twice. Paulen: “I’m a proud man.”

Video of the judging process:

RESQTEC P4
The RESQTEC P4 helps rescuers free victims quickly and effectively from a crashed vehicle. In contrast to other comparable devices, RESQTEC P4 does not work hydraulically but is powered by a battery or energy source from inside a backpack. For optimal performance, the compact RESQTEC P4 operates wirelessly, it has a relatively low weight and a rotary head. For more information

Air Wick Life Scents
Ergonomics was key in the development of this air freshener. During each stage of the design process user tests were carried out via prototypes, in order to determine the most user-friendly trigger mechanism. The eye-catching colour patch atop the Air Wick Life Scents helps the product stand out on supermarket shelves. For more information

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About the author

Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of innovationorigins.com.