For 2014, the prestigious Rado Star Prize is moving to South Africa. This design competition, a longstanding initiative of famed watch makers Rado Switzerland, is aimed at design students or recent graduates who are tackling a social problem through design.

Design awards and competitions have always been a surefire way to get noticed in the industry. Icsid talked with Rado Switzerland to find out more about the Rado Star Prize, how to start an industrial design career and the benefits of design and how it can help to make the world a better place.

Q: How does the Rado Star Prize help design students and young graduates?

The Rado Star Prize provides design students and young graduates access to two very important levers of growth: 1) funds to develop their ideas and projects and turn them into something concrete, and 2) publicity to help them improve their profile and the profile of their work. All in all, it helps open doors in many ways. Some former winners of the Rado Design initiatives for young talents have gone on to become very successful designers on their own right, just like Iris Van Herpen.

Q: In your opinion, what are the key components to kick-start a career in industrial design?

There are so many industrial design “challenges” that need to be taken on. We believe that an approach that combines creative problem solving with appealing aesthetics is the starting point. Being open-minded and ready to listen and having a background that includes theory as well as important levels of practical experience are also key. Building links with industry early on is of paramount importance. In this, the Swiss system of ‘apprenticeship’ that opens up access to work to young students has proven to be extremely efficient in kick-starting careers in industrial design and other fields.

Q: The contest has a strong social design component. Why is this important to Rado?

We believe that design has to play a role in constantly improving not just ‘things’ and how they work, but also lives. Ultimately both are linked. If you design something that makes an object better or more pleasing, it will improve people’s lives. This same approach could be translated to communities. As a brand, with the Rado Star Prize, our objective is to contribute and help projects that are outside our core business – we never ask people in this context to design watches.

Q: What does it mean to Rado to bring, for the first time, the prize to South Africa?

Rado is proud to have a partnership with Icsid – it was the natural thing to do to bring the Rado Star Prize to South Africa in the context of the World Design Capital 2014. At the very first meeting held in Cape Town, the idea was put on the table and was immediately accepted by all stakeholders as the best contribution to the programme.

Q: Will the Rado Star Prize initiative live on beyond the WDC designation of Cape Town?

The Rado Star Prize is an initiative that Rado has been running internationally for quite some time now. At the moment we run a Rado Star Prize France, a Rado Star Prize Austria and a Rado Star Prize Switzerland. The plan is to continue with this initiative in collaboration with prestigious design institutions and events internationally. In terms of Rado Star Prize South Africa, our hope is that there will be a strong legacy we can build on in the years to come in South Africa and with other Icsid projects.

Q: Dr. Brandon Gien, Icsid President and Prof. Mugendi M’Rithaa, Icsid President-Elect are both jury members for the Rado Star Prize South Africa. For Rado, what contribution can the Icsid leadership bring to young designers to move their careers forward?

On our side – in the context of Rado Star Prize South Africa – it was of paramount importance to have Icsid leadership and participation in terms of driving the project forward. Not just with a presence in the jury but with ongoing support for the activity and the project.

The Rado Star Prize South Africa 2014 Jury Prize and Designer’s Choice Prize will be announced in mid-October.

Rado Switzerland is an Icsid World Design Partner®.

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