Baden-Württemberg International Design Award
General information about the competition

Competition as a means of advancement
Focus Open rewards forward-looking design. Professional design has never been as important and so much a matter of course as it is today, because design adds value and gives companies a competitive edge.
Promoting design is of great importance to Baden-Württemberg, where design and industry benefit from one another and have been helping to strengthen the state as a business location for many years. The Design Center Baden-Württemberg is incorporated within the Stuttgart District Government and is the state of Baden-Württemberg’s competence centre for design.
The FOCUS OPEN - Baden-Württemberg International Design Award has been an important part of the institution’s portfolio since 1991. The Baden-Württemberg state award provides an annual and transparent roundup of what’s state of the art when it comes to design, innovation and sustainability.

All the Focus Open winners at a glance
Click below to find out more about the award-winners, the jury’s assessment...


Design awards in corona times?
One thought was constantly on the organisers’ minds: what significance do design awards have in corona times, how much weight does a design competition carry against the backdrop of current events? In such exceptional circumstances, aren’t companies and the design community focusing on other things? Will anybody even take notice of the results? In fact, however, there was no need to worry. When it was announced that the judging would be postponed from April until July, the Design Center Baden-Württemberg received numerous messages from entrants, appealing to the organisers not to give up on Focus Open 2020 whatever happened. Winning an award, they said, was their only chance of making a positive announcement and presenting themselves to the public at a time when the media is full of bad news and many small companies and design firms are increasingly disappearing from view.
Economically difficult times only increase the need for visibility and good news!

Once again, companies and professional designers from all over the world were invited to enter their newest and most innovative products for the Baden-Württemberg International Design Award, Focus Open 2020. Even startups and newcomers had the same chances of taking part in Focus Open as established design agencies and companies. Besides promoting the annual prize-winners and assisting them with the marketing of their innovations, the Baden-Württemberg International Design Award aims to uncover tendencies and call attention to totally new solutions in design. In conducting the competition, it has once again accomplished those goals – which seem more important than ever before in light of how this year has unfolded.

Participants and awards
This year the Focus Open jury evaluated entries submitted in 14 different categories. The judges selected a total of 56 prize-winners from among all the entries submitted.
A new category of award made its debut in 2020: the Focus Meta, a special prize presented for exemplary solutions that address overarching topical issues – in 2020, the subject was social design. This year the Focus Gold was awarded to 13 products for forward-looking and outstanding achievements, the Focus Silver was presented 16 times for exceptional quality and the jury honoured 26 products with the Focus Special Mention for design that surpasses the established standard.

Participants could allocate their entries to the following categories:
  • Capital goods, tools
  • Healthcare
  • Bathroom, wellness
  • Kitchen, household, table
  • Interiors
  • Lifestyle, accessories
  • Lighting
  • Consumer electronics, entertainment
  • Leisure, sports, play
  • Building technology
  • Public design, urban design
  • Mobility
  • Service design
  • Materials & surfaces

A fair jury, a fair assessment
One special feature of the Focus Open competition is that no pre-selection of the entries is made prior to the judging. Every single product submitted is presented to the jury for assessment. Almost without exception, the assessment of the entries was conducted on the basis of the original product.

The jury lineup of national and international experts changes every year. This time round, however, all the jurors came from Germany, because the two judges from the USA and Canada weren’t able to travel. Thanks to our many contacts, we were able to fill the gaps quickly. The judging comprised several rounds and gave rise to some lively discussions. The jury lineup and its combined experience from a wide range of different sectors and product categories helped ensure fair and competent assessments from a variety of very different perspectives.
You can meet the individual jury members here

The jurors based their assessment on the following design criteria:
design quality, functionality, innovativeness, ergonomics, interface design / connectivity, usability, sustainability, aesthetics, branding, step change, user journey, digital intelligence, meaningfulness, appropriateness, authenticity.

The benefit for the award-winners
Moderate costs – fair assessment – independent jury – broad-based publicity: that’s what Focus Open stands for. Focus Open is one of the few non-commercial design awards with an international orientation in Germany. The costs for taking part are moderate – even newcomers, startups and small companies can afford to enter their innovative products and compete at international level. As a result, the spectrum of this year’s winners once again ranges from small, innovative businesses all the way to industrial heavyweights.
New jurors are appointed every year. All members of the jury are independent and agree not to submit any of their own work. And if a juror’s product were to make its way before the judges via a client, it would be excluded.
The organisers have no vote and no influence on the judging – nor is the jury told how many awards are to be presented.
And as is always the case with Focus Open, there was no pre-selection of this year’s entries on the basis of photographs – every design solution was presented to the jury in the form of the actual product. Only in exceptional and justified cases did the jury make its assessment without the product being physically present. 
The benefits for award-winners are considerable – besides feedback from the independent experts of the jury, they can also look forward to a publicity boost from the Design Center Baden-Württemberg’s numerous communication platforms, including the international yearbook, exhibition, award ceremony and placement in social media and networks! This latter benefit has a particularly positive impact on brand communications: the Focus Meta, Focus Gold, Focus Silver and Focus Special Mention labels are a mark of quality and a valuable branding tool.

The comprehensive exhibition catalogue presents all the award-winning products in both German and English. The top-quality images and detailed product descriptions are supplemented by vivid commentary from the jury. Published by Design Center Baden-Württemberg, avedition, Stuttgart, 978-3-89986-335-2. The exhibition catalogue is available from retailers from November 2020!