William Drenttel | Miscellaneous

AIGA Winterhouse Writing Awards 2008

"I am nearly the same age as the mini-mall. And though lovers of cities will weep for me, I must admit that much of my life has been spent — not at the mall, as you might expect of a girl San Fernando Valley-raised — but at the local mini-mall..."
Jade Chang, Winner, Winterhouse Writing Award 2007

"While many of design’s most powerful practitioners advocate more writing and research, these designers (and the “larger” graphic design establishment) often undermine such advocacy due to their own suspicion of academia and ambivalence toward critical theory..."
Erica Nooney, Winner, Winterhouse Student Writing Award 2007

The AIGA Winterhouse Awards for Design Writing & Criticism seek to increase the understanding and appreciation of design, both within the profession and throughout American life. A program of AIGA, these annual awards have been founded by Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel of the Winterhouse Institute to recognize excellence in writing about design and encourage the development of young voices in design writing, commentary and criticism. Submissions for the 2008 awards are due before June 2, 2008. Here's how to apply for the two awards.

Writing Award of $10,000
Open to writers, critics, scholars, historians, journalists and designers and given for a body of work.

Education Award of $1,000
Open to students (high school, undergraduate or graduate) whose use of writing, in the interest of making visual work or scholarship or cultural observation, demonstrates extraordinary originality and promise.

This awards program is part of a larger AIGA initiative to stimulate new levels of design awareness and critical thinking about design. The 2008 awards will be announced in August and presented at the AIGA Design Legends Gala on September 18 in New York City.

Jury for 2008 Awards
Jessica Helfand, Chair
Michael Bierut, designer and partner, Pentagram
Kevin Lippert, publisher, Princeton Architectural Press
Judith Thurman, cultural critic and staff writer, The New Yorker

Benefactors for 2008 Awards
The 2008 awards are made possible, in part, by the generous contributions of those listed below. To make a contribution, please email writingawards(at)aiga.org.

Individuals & Institutions
Sean Adams
Art Center College of Design
Michael Bierut
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Carnegie Mellon University School of Design
Brian Collins
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
The Cooper Union Herb Lubalin Center
Meredith Davis
Alexander Gorlin Architects
Jessica Helfand & William Drenttel
Steven Heller
Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology
Ellen Lupton & Abbott Miller
Debbie Millman
MIT School of Architecture & Planning
Clement Mok
Errol Morris
Murray Moss
North Carolina State University Graphic Design Department
Northeastern University Department of Visual Arts
Bruce Nussbaum
Parsons The New School for Design
Princeton Architectural Press
Chris Pullman
Rhode Island School of Design
Rockwell Group
Anthony Russell
School of Visual Arts
Society of Publication Designers
Syracuse University Goldring Arts Journalism Program
Two Twelve Associates
University of Minnesota Design Institute
Rick Valicenti
Michael Vanderbyl
Lella & Massimo Vignelli
Armin Vit & Bryony Gomez-Palacio
Walker Art Center
Weisz + Yoes Architecture
Barbara Wiedemann
Lorraine Wild

Media Supporters
Dot Dot Dot

Printing & Paper
Finlay Printing
Mohawk Paper

Comments [9]

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but it seems a bit suspect that the organizers of an awards competition would ask $25 for an entry fee, given that you have procured a veritable laundry list of sponsors (see above). You may claim, that this "fee" offsets the cost of obtaining those adjudicating (who originated the contest in the first place–pretty low). You may also claim that the money goes towards the prize (an even lower proposition–why would you have competitors fund their own prize?). I understand this is the common practice amongst organizations to charge entry fees for competitions. At the same time, it smacks of just downright shakedown. Shame on you D.O. Thought you were better than that.

– JM
John Merigliano

Thank you, JM, for reminding us that in DO world, no good deed goes unpunished.
Remember a thing called the NEA Design Awards, where an individual designer or writer about design could apply for a grant to support their work? Well guess what: those grants don't exist anymore. You know anyone else doing this, any other resources for suppporting design writing? How many people actually enter this competition? What do you think AIGA Winterhouse does with all those entry fees? Read the entries and discuss them over dinner at Per Se while their limos await them at the curb? I don't think so!

Not to mention that a token entry fee helps restrict the amount of entries...and hopefully restricts entries that might not be as...let's say 'developed'.

Also, c'mon, the AIGA is non-profit. Every little bit helps keep them running, effective, and relevant in our community. Twenty-five dollars is hardly exorbitant.

... better than that.

To all detractors, can only comment: "bippity boppity."

(Haven't had to pull that one out for a while.)



Joe Moran

And congratulations to the winners!

Very Respectfully,
Joe Moran

Congrats to the winners! I'm looking forward to reading their efforts (published on DO, I hope)?

It's great to have this kind of a design competition amongst all the other glitzy, object-oriented fare--and shared academic publishing (and venues) are badly needed in our radically fragmenting profession.

I only wish DO would get rid of the age limit requirement for submissions (full disclosure here: this poster is a just-over-40 design writer/academic hopeful who has recently put down her mouse and picked up her pen). Graphic design has such a dearth of scholarly writing that it's a shame to 'disqualify' any of it because of someone's age...

From the submission guidelines:

"Writing must be submitted as text only—no images or other graphic elements—in PDF format (other formats will not be accepted). Entries that do not follow these guidelines will not be judged."


"By submitting work to this competition, the entrant acknowledges the right of AIGA to use accepted work in AIGA publications, on its website, and for educational and AIGA-related promotional purposes."

First, it it is both ironic and wrong-headed to require that critical writing on graphic design and visual culture be submitted without images "or other graphic elements." Second, by submitting work to the contest you effectively become a shill for the AIGA.

No thanks!


Well here's to being a shill to the AIGA!
Erica Nooney

In comment, I'll say that the entry fee does seem like a bit of a shakedown; however the AIGA seems to weld a strong connection between members laying out cash and the organization itself gaining some ambiguously defined sense of "professionalism". And since there is no gratis graphic design journal for displaying academically juried articles, this contest (in which only two people gain an annual recognition) manages to rein in design commentary rather than stimulate its production. I've often thought the money might be better spent developing a published quarterly academic journal.

And I'll agree with whoever commented on the age requirement--it's ridiculous and there doesn't appear to be a clear rationale, aside from the push for "young people" to compete--nothing makes the AIGA look more hip and fresh than some young face to show off at its gala, eh?

Erica Nooney

Jobs | April 24