How strong is Austrian design? An analysis by the red dot institute
Home-made success: For decades now, products from Austria fascinate consumers as well as critics. The internationally orientated red dot design award, organised in Germany, shows this enthusiasm: with 35 distinctions in 2012 alone, more products from Austria than ever before were awarded. A record for the republic in the Alps, which is on 11th position in this year’s country ranking that features all 58 nations which succeeded in the “red dot award: product design”.
Thereby, Austria has some surprises for international attention: For ages, the biggest strength used to be in sculpturally shaped designs, but also in modern forms, the cultural tradition as well as the natural setting of the country can be found. While the German design has primarily been pushed on by engineers, it was the figural art of designing as well as the architecture from which the typical Austrian feeling of forms developed.
But those patterns are accompanied by innovations for several years now – sometimes even driven through – which the majority is not aware of that they originate from Austria. From design’s point of view – and thus from red dot – outstanding companies such as Silhoutte International or Bene, a brand of office furniture, encounter market-leading design studios like EOOS in Vienna or Porsche Design in Zell am See. One of the most successful design studios of the “red dot award: product design” is Kiska from Salzburg. In the ranking of the best design studios, these three are in leading positions.
Within the “red dot award: product design 2012”, only 1.3 per cent of ca. 4,500 submitted products from all over the world received the highest distinction, the “red dot: best of the best”. For years now, products from Austria are among the winners of this accented best mark and successfully position themselves on the international markets thanks to their design quality. Austrian companies are not only strong on the market segments leisure and sports or the fields of living, kitchens and interior design, they also know how to compete with international competitors on the market of entertainment electronics, like the example of AKG Acoustics perfectly shows.
Together with further well-known companies such as Team 7, Julius Bluhm, HTM Sport and Viking, AKG Acoustics is among the most successful companies of the “red dot award: product design” within the last five years. The words of Jürgen Bopst, director of the AKG Acoustics GmbH, almost sound like an empirical formula that could also be signed by numerous companies: “Within the last decades, AKG impressively proved that an Austrian enterprise can establish successfully on the world market.” The company based in Vienna does not only owe this achievement the technical development of its products, but also their outstanding design quality.
By not only counting the numbers of distinctions but putting them into relation to all registrations from one country, one gets the competition‘s rate of awards. It is a currency that tells even more about the general quality of products which originate from the same country. Year by year, Austria is constantly moving forward in this statistics. On an average, about 28 per cent of all submitted products have been awarded by the international and independent design jury of red dot in 2012. With a rate of awards of 46.7 per cent, Austrian products are clearly above the competition‘s average – a visible sign of the high appreciation and a proof for the enormous quality in international comparison.
Successes in renowned product competitions establish worldwide visibility for companies, brands and the decision makers behind it – an effect with sustainable matter, which proves courage for international comparison: Those who take their innovations to step in front of a jury – in which furniture designer Stefan Diez or Ferrari legend Ken Okuyama meet with experienced design professors from Asia and the American continent, to evaluate the best contemporary designs of the world – should have achieved something convincing and brought the aesthetics and use of their products into tune. The Austrian design scene is aware of the fact, that they can represent themselves at the red dot design award and celebrate their successes in front of an international audience.