File #108756

Tips to present a winning proposal

02 / 21 / 2020

Just when the new editions are about to begin, we have decided to talk to Josep Congost, Roca Design & Innovation Director and jury of the Roca One Day Design Challenge in seven occasions, so that he can explain to us how to design, prepare and present the proposals during the competition. Therefore, future contestants, pay attention to the following interview.

Presenting a design proposal is not an easy task. We need to make some previous research to find out what is already in the market, to analyze how to add value or innovation with our design, to address an aesthetic proposal, to solve technical matters, materials and achieve a result with a wow effect… All this is already quite complicated, but if you add the against-the-clock factor, the task becomes almost impossible. What should participants do to prepare themselves to face this challenge?

A good designer must not only be creative, but must also manage time. A good way to prepare is to thoroughly analyze how to distribute the time available between the conceptual or idea generation phase and the execution phase of sketches, 3D, renders…   The time allocated to each task depends on the skills of every designer, who needs to be aware of this and should optimize the final result with the available time.

You have mentioned the importance of the wow effect, that feeling of surprise at the outcome. In your opinion, what are the factors that trigger this sensation?

Design is like a two-sided coin: on one side you find the functional aspect and on the other the formal aspect. Both sides are equally relevant, but in a competition where no prototypes are made and contestants only need to graphically or virtually present the concepts, the formal aspect is a priority and basic. The final result of the product proposal needs to originate a feeling of desire, fascination, impact and emotion in the audience.  



Something you have often mentioned is clarity. A project needs to be clear, not leaving anything for granted or waiting for the jury to guess or interpret what the participant wishes to say. What are you referring to?

In this type of competition, the members of the jury do not have much time to evaluate many concepts. In a first stage, they tend to discard those proposals that do not contribute anything new and that are difficult to interpret and understand. For this reason, it is important that the contestant is able to present the idea in the simplest, clearest and most effective way possible, both with an image and an explanatory text, so that in a few seconds he or she may overcome this first selective phase of the jury.  

Sometimes we tend to believe that a good design is enough, and issues such as a good presentation, an explanatory text or knowing how to sell an idea are undervalued.  Do you believe that these issues are important to the jury? And to a client? Is there anything else they should need to take into account?

We must certainly consider that the proposal needs to provide differential features to the products that already exist in the market or in our minds. At a time in which everything looks alike, the designer needs to come up with those differentiating aspects that make his or her proposal unique.

After a few years in which exaggeration and artificiality were the trend in nearly all creative fields, we are now returning to a more moderate time, where less is once again more. Do you believe this is just another cyclic trend or is this really linked to a wish to connect with nature, to take care of it, now that we have depleted natural resources?

The architect Mies Van der Rohe is credited with the sentence “Less is more”, but the truth is that its author was Peter Behrens, considered the first industrial designer in history. This sentence inspired what we know as minimalism today and has dictated contemporary aesthetics, both in design and in architecture. The basic rules of this trend are to use pure and simple materials, color and shapes, always choosing the most neutral use of materials. The saving of resources, the use of basic concepts and the elimination of anything superfluous perfectly fit into a vision that respects the environment.  

Do you believe that creativity is innate or that it can be acquired? Are there ways to develop it?

Creativity is the capacity of the human mind to reach new conclusions and ideas and solve problems in an original way; it is a process that gives way to original ideas that are valuable and, as everything in life, can be learnt. Design schools have teaching techniques to do it. A different matter would be the learning capacity of every single one of us or a natural gift anyone has to excel in this field.  

The climate crisis is already a fact, and scientists have long been warning us that our attitude must change radically. If the built environment and the amount of things we possess are part of the problem, how can architecture and design be part of the solution?

Dieter Rams, one of the best industrial designers in history, introduced in the 1970s the idea of promoting sustainable design and considering obsolescence as a crime in terms of design. In his famous “Good Design” rules he mentioned that good design had to be sustainable and durable, surviving trends, conserving resources and avoiding pollution. I would recommend architects and designers to keep in mind Dieter Rams’ rules.

Do you believe that the experience of participating in the contest and these tips we have included here are also useful in the professional world? Would there be any differences?

The experience of participating in a contest is highly educational. It is a challenge in which the promotion of creativity, the quality of the execution and the adequate management of time are essential. And frankly, all those aspects are vital in the professional world.