About the year 2000
The Swiss Federal Office of Culture is responsible for promoting and supporting design work in Switzerland in the long term at the national level, with advice from the Swiss Federal Design Commission.Since the new funding model was introduced five years ago, the Swiss Federal Office of Culture promotes design mainly through the Swiss Federal Design Competition, which is open to designers up to the age of forty.
The competition makes awards to objects that exist only as potentially successful prototypes or are already in serial production, and also to purely experimental work used by designers to providean insight into fundamental research that may well point the way forward. A glance at the statistics for recent years shows that designers from fields that have formerly tended to be underrepresented are increasingly entering the competition. So this year's winners include many jewellery designers and a strikingly large number of industrial designers, as well as professional groups like photographers, graphic designers and representatives of the fashion industry. Reorganizing the competition made it possible for the Swiss Federal Office of Culture to put funding in place that works more actively. The Swiss Federal Office of Culture sees itself as a key player in an versatile, constantly growing design network based on numerous contacts with established figures who are active as theorists, practitioners and mediators. In the last few years this network available to the designers who win awards in the competition has clearly become more resilient and vigorous: they can opt to forgo a money prize or period in a studio in favour of an internship with a distinguished design company at home or abroad. In this way the prize is individually matched to a career and aids integration into the national and international design scene.
The Swiss Federal Design Commission examines up to 250 dossiers in a first round for the competition, and about 50 high-quality pieces of work and projects in the second round. Extraordinary mastery of design, innovative elements, a convincing concept and production technique are only some of the criteria applied in the assessment process. About a fifth of the entrants are finally awarded the prize, and thus are given an opportunity to move on from being 'the young talent of today' towards being a 'top designer of tomorrow'.