« The International Design Alliance strongly believes in the value of professional design and fair compensation for design work. The IDA discourages all practices that engage designers in any kind of speculative, unpaid work, including competitions. Such practices undermine the value of design and the professional standing of designers. »
On January 30th I attended this [ Forum sur les concours ] presented by Mission Design, the presentation was held in this majestic building that I marvel upon every time I pass by it [Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal], to think that maybe this building and surely the new wings to this Museum were commissioned through an architectural design competition.I personally think that design competitions are good for the design community and particularly for the upcoming students, it stirs the competitive senses in all of us and pushes us as designers to the level of creativity that may not be attained through mundane bread and butter projects. What struck me the most when competing in design competitions is the fever and intensity in which we embark on in order to create the greatest concept ever no matter the cost or the monetary amount available and this at every design competition, were do we get all this energy and creative juices? Well, only true designers can answer this question.
The panel members at this Forum tried to answer a few pre issued questions that were read out from a quest speaker, the panel addressed all questions to the best of their knowledge but I did not feel the enthusiasm that I though would rein in this discussion and I think I know why, we were in the presence of a very competitive and creative group of professional designers that are all trying to make a living in a very competitive environment.
There was no apparent movement being created at this Forum, no standing ovation when questions were answered and no spontaneous remarks from the crowd, it seamed that we were all in agreement but not attentive to what was being said, we must have heard this topic a thousand times before and yet this practice is still rampant. I personally think it is up to the professional associations to lay down the law and impose guidelines for every practice in defining what is fair compensation for design work in public design competitions and guidelines on how competitions should be structured, this in return will levitate the status and importance of the role of a professional designer and justify and establish the monetary value of each participating design professional.
To conclude; all of these topics and discussions would not have been possible without the supporting role and initiatives that Design Montreal and Mission Design undertook to promote design in Québec in recent years, I thank you. Without these initiatives our profession as designers would not be elevated to the just value of the role of the designer in public domain.