International Design Excellence Awards

This competition is open to designs and designers from around the world and we look forward to seeing your very best. IDSA members benefit from preferential pricing for all aspects of IDEA entry. If you aren’t a member, consider joining before you enter IDEA to save on entry fees and enjoy many other membership advantages year-round.

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– IDEA 2021 is open to designs and designers worldwide. 

– Designs may be entered in multiple categories, but each entry must be submitted (and paid for) separately. Please note: awards will not be given to the same design in more than one product category (i.e., an entry will not win in both Medical & Health and Home).

– If an entry did not win a Gold, Silver or Bronze IDEA in 2020, but still meets all the other criteria (including two-year distribution window), it may be resubmitted by the designer for consideration in 2021.  

– Only student entries may be submitted in the student category. If you are a student and wish to be judged as a professional, you may do so; however, you will be charged the professional entry fee.

– Members of IDSA receive exclusive discounted pricing when entering IDEA. 


– IDEA aims to recognize products and services that are real and tangible. This means the product must be available for purchase, in its final form to its intended end users, through normal sales channels. Exceptions to this rule are in the case of the Social Impact Design category, where products often are given as part of an aid effort / charity program or in the case of Student projects which are singular creations not meant for distribution. 

– New for 2021 – Professional conceptual design entries must be submitted in the new Concept & Speculative Design Category. ‘Concept’ is defined here as a product, service, or experience that is NOT available for purchase to the public or that has NOT been developed to the point of tangible production and distribution. Concept entries may also be speculative in nature and could include technologies or features that do not yet exist. 

– Project Distribution:

  1. Professional entries must have been placed into distribution between March 1, 2019 and March 1, 2021.
  2. Professional concept designs must have been finalized or completed between March 1, 2019 and March 1, 2021.
  3. Student entries must have been submitted to the school between March 1, 2019 and March 1, 2021. 

International Design Excellence Awards

Open for entry
January 4

Entry closes
March 15

IDEA Winners Ceremony
September 21

Student Merit Awards

Undergraduate SMA – Round 1
January – March 8

Undergraduate SMA – Round 2
March 8 – April 5

Graduate SMA
March 8 – April 5

Winners announced

IDSA Awards

Call for nominations opens
May 3

Call for nominations closes
June 30

IDSA Awards Ceremony
September 20 

Education Papers

Entry opens
March 1

Entry closes
May 3

Paper acceptance notifications & public announcements

Undergraduate & Graduate Scholarships

Entry opens
April 19

Entry closes
June 11

Recipients announced
July 26

Senior Show

Submissions begin
May 3

Submissions close
June 14

IDEA 2021 Pricing & Deadlines


In Round One, judges review every entry submission and narrow the field by selecting exemplary projects to advance to Round Two of the competition.

Regular Entry Rates

For entries submitted and paid for between January 4, 2021 – March 1, 2021 (11:59pm EST)

  • IDSA Member: Professional – $365
  • IDSA Member: Student – $130 
  • Non-Member: Professional & Student – $540

* COVID-19 related 20% discount is only available from January 4, 2021 – February 1, 2021 (11:59pm EST)

Late Entry Rates

For entries submitted and paid for between March 2, 2021 – March 15, 2021 (11:59pm EST)

  • IDSA Member: Professional – $565
  • IDSA Member: Student – $260 
  • Non-Member: Professional & Student – $775


Entrants selected by our judges to advance into Round Two will be notified by April 26, 2021. Entrants need to complete and pay for their Round Two submission(s) in order to be considered ‘Finalists’ and to be eligible to win an IDEA trophy. Round Two will be open for entry from April 26 to May 22, 2021 (11:59pm EST).

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IDEA will not accept physical products for Round Two. Entrants will make an online submission only. 

Round Two / Finalist Entry Rates

  • IDSA Member: Professional – $515
  • IDSA Member: Student – $130
  • Non-Member: Professional & Student – $630


IDEA recognizes products and services that encourage, inspire, and push our industry forward. We promote innovation and excellence. We encourage an in-depth and forward-thinking process. Ultimately, we honor great design that brings real benefit to users, clients, and society.

Each year, the jury reviews IDEA entries across 5 criteria. The same criteria have remained unchanged during the 40-year history of IDEA. We believe this consistency further separates the IDEA program from other awards programs.

Since its inception, the goal of IDEA has always remained to identify and honor the pinnacle of design excellence. IDEA is unweathered by shifting fads or transitory styling. Rather, its winners reveal the tremendous significance of design in business, society and beyond, thus proving that great results are possible when design is leveraged to its fullest potential.

Design Innovation – How new is the product or service? What critical problem is it solving? How clever is the solution? Does it advance a product category?

Benefit to User – How is the user’s life improved through this design? Can they accomplish things not previously possible?

Benefit to Client/Brand – What is the business impact of this design? How has leveraging design proven to be a key market differentiator?

Benefit to Society – Does the solution consider social and cultural factors? Is it designed/manufactured with sustainable methods/materials?

Appropriate Aesthetics – Does the form of the design adequately relate to its use/function? Are the colors/materials/finishes used befitting to its purpose?

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