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Why design awards are not only about a shiny plaque



Sean Carney

This week, we're celebrating winning a record-breaking 47 iF awards for design excellence. It's an achievement we're immensely proud of, both for the company and for the individuals who created each standout product or service.


But as Chief Design Officer of Philips, there's one question I still get asked from time to time: what is the value of a design award? Is it just about vanity and publicity, or is there some other purpose to entering these competitions?

To that, I would say that first and foremost each award recognizes the immense talent of our teams, and rightly so. Plus, of course, it gives our innovations the seal of approval from an internationally renowned panel of judges. That attracts new customers and clients, which in turn increases our overall brand equity and our sales.

Taking the question more broadly though, I think high profile design awards like iF or Red Dot do something more than this: I believe they are one of the clearest ways to show our business colleagues the value of our designers. For decades, a lot of companies viewed the design service as merely an afterthought ­– something that added a nice color or a pleasing shape to a product.


Today, that's changing. Businesses increasingly treat us as true partners that understand what will capture the hearts and minds of customers, making these competitions a great platform to show a direct cause and effect between how investing in design can boost business. And, in turn, we have changed our focus when entering design competitions, ensuring that we only submit products that we believe will deliver real value to the business. This has made it even more rewarding to win a record number of awards.


This year, we won four Gold awards ­­– the highest accolade the iF judges can give – which cut across our three sectors of lighting, healthcare and consumer lifestyle. These ranged from a humble (but very stylish) toothbrush, a television that sets a new visual standard in an incredibly competitive market, an outdoor light that casts a beautiful patterned shadow and a potentially life-saving device.


For us, these awards show how our innovation teams pull out all the stops, every day, to create the best products, systems and services for the company. And above all, to give our customers powerful and new experiences.

SeanCarney hr

Sean Carney  

Chief Design Officer  

Sean Carney is Chief Design Officer for Philips and Chief Design Officer for Philips Consumer Lifestyle. As the head of the design competence across the company, he is leading global teams delivering insight-driven, meaningful innovation which bring value to people and business.


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