Keith Helmetag: Then and now. The SEGD Global Design Awards.

Keith Helmetag, Partner, C&G Partners, New York. Images of then and now.

I was the 1996 jury chairperson for the SEGD Global Design Awards and participated again this year as a 2017 jury member offering a personal perspective that places today’s work in historic context.

My recollection was that there were about 100 entries in 1996 with a design/ build value of under $10 million. There were 407 entries in the 2017 SEGD Global Design Awards and my estimate is that the annual design/media/build is over $1 billion. Unfortunately not everyone submits project budgets, which would really help us all to benchmark better, so this is purely an estimate. I am sure it is in the ballpark as far as an order of magnitude is concerned which gives a good idea of the difference in influence that the profession and awards have on the built environment today.

21 years ago, the entries were mostly static signs for individual buildings that were designed primarily by NYC and LA studios. Today, there’s media, signage, exhibits and place-making in a broad spectrum of scales and sizes that were submitted from all over the globe. In fact, 26% of the entries came from countries other than the United States of America.

Today’s entries and the award winners still include several venerable studios, but the accolades are also shared by prodigies, newbies to SEGD and students. 40% of the awards were won by international firms this year, including the amazing Best of Show Entry - Kunstmuseum Basel Light Frieze.

In 2013 the SEGD Board of Directors voted to change the "E" in SEGD from Environmental to Experiential so that it would more accurately describe the associations vision of building "a community of professionals who create experiences that connect people to place."  The 2017 SEGD Global Design Awards really reflect this substantive change in the mix of award-winning work and practitioners.

I’ve enjoyed experiencing this transformation and look forward to participating in future SEGD Global Design Awards jury sessions.

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