Design Group Goes Global Through Awards Program

How should an organization expand internationally? The American Society of Furniture Designers answered that question by creating a new awards category.

As a step toward going global, the American Society of Furniture Designers (ASFD) has introduced a new subcategory to its Pinnacle Awards program dedicated to the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific Awards was created with the China International Furniture Fair (CIFF), where the Asia winners will be announced in September, and High Point Market, where Pinnacle Award winners have been historically announced in October.

“Design is global,” ASFD Executive Director John Conrad said. “From day one it’s never been about designed only in America, or only in England, or only in France or Japan. It’s never been about that. It’s global in nature, and we felt it was time to recognize that.”

He explained that consumers often are unaware of the individuals who design their furniture, so the awards are an opportunity to give those designers, both in the U.S. and worldwide, proper recognition.

While very few designers from the Asia-Pacific area have previously entered the Pinnacle Awards, ASFD’s board decided to begin expanding in the region because of the existing connections it had there with design schools and organizations. For example, Tom Conley, High Point Market CEO and ASFD board member, provided the connection to CIFF—which is organized by the China National Furniture Association, the China Foreign Trade Center, the Guangdong Furniture Association, and the Hong Kong Furniture & Decoration Trade Association.

“It was a great opportunity to use that connection to explore the opportunity to expand the awards to there, and then later we hope to Europe,” Conrad said. In fact, this new category will be one aspect of a global membership strategy that ASFD will launch this fall.

At the request of the local organization and through the efforts of a working group, the Asia-Pacific Awards will also include region-specific categories, namely for traditional Asian design. “[It’s a] pretty good idea for a local design competition to recognize a category of design that has now been going for hundreds of years in Asia,” Conrad said.

Designers can begin submitting their entries in May. Winners will be featured on the ASFD and High Point Market websites and able to use the award program’s logo and certificates for marketing.

“This is the best interpretation of our commitment to promoting the matching between good design and good market,” Conrad said in a press release. “It is hoped that CIFF, as the world’s only partner of the Pinnacle Awards, can build a bridge between the United States and China to bring more amazing oriental designs to U.S. consumers and make the American designs enter the broader oriental market.”

(Handout photo)

Alex Beall

By Alex Beall

Alex Beall is an associate editor for Associations Now with a masters in journalism and a penchant for Instagram. MORE

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