One of my favorite trans-disciplinarary-creative-integrative-science-engineering-art-psychology-etc sites mentions the obvious; that rewards are often tangential to what is important. 

Prizes Before Utility: A Designer Dogma?

In a recent post called Get Out of the Dogma House,” I wrote about how one’s dogmas can interfere with seeing alternative solutions to problems.

Today I received the following observation from the British/German “Idea Engineer” Graham Horton. Graham (shown below) is a Professor of Computer Science at Universität Magdeburg and also the co-founder of the German ideation firm Zephram (blog link here) whose clients include Daimler, BMW and Siemens. This is what Graham wrote:

Graham_horton_240One designer dogma which I find particularly annoying is the belief that it is more important to win design prizes than to produce objects that meet customers’ needs. A concomitant dogma is that the prize criteria be abstract and internal rather than pragmatic and useful.

“Two common examples are advertising and architecture. Prizes are awarded for commercials which are completely unsuccessful in imprinting the product in the viewer’s/reader’s mind.

“Similarly, two buildings on our university campus [Magdeburg] have won architectural prizes which have serious deficiencies from my (the user’s) point of view. In the first building all the projection surfaces are mounted next to the windows (with no possibility of lowering blinds) so that it is virtually impossible to make out the images being shown. In the second, (our university library) the roof began to leak owing to a design error only one year after after completion and had to be completely overhauled.”

Thanks for your thoughts, Graham.

Question: What’s your personal experience with products (or other artifacts such as buildings, ads, etc.) that won awards from their creator’s peers but didn’t live up to their intended users’ expectations of effectiveness?