Design Contests

Members may not undertake any speculative project or schematic proposals for a project either alone or in competition with others for which compensation will only be received if a design is accepted.

The following are the competition rules for clients to follow if they request that members compete for project work as recommended by the GDC.

The GDC’s Code of Ethics states that members may not take part in open competitions for commercial purposes on speculation. Members may take part in limited design competitions where each participant in the competition is provided equal compensation in accordance with the work involved.

Members may not undertake any speculative project or schematic proposals for a project either alone or in competition with others for which compensation will only be received if a design is accepted or used.

Please note that these rules refer to competitions for project work. Do not confuse them with rules for awards contests (competitions and juried exhibitions by design-related organizations which give awards to recognize excellence in design)

The Rules of Competition

Should a client desire evaluation of design within a competitive context amongst members of the GDC, the Society requests and recommends that they either follow these practices, or request specific approval from the national executive.

1. Evaluate several members or firms through referrals, interviews, professional standing and presentation of their past work. By reviewing the work of several designers, a client can match a designer’s expertise to the requirements of a particular project, rather than having too many design firms competing on a project. While this process requires more investment of time for each candidate, it reduces the number of candidates that require client evaluation, and provides evaluation at a more thorough level.

2. If you are certain you require a presentation of creative ideas from more than one firm, it is recommended you pay an honorarium to each competitor for their presentation. The honorarium should relate to what a reasonable design fee would be for a similar project under normal circumstances. If such an expense cannot be justified for the project, choose a firm based upon past experience.

Limit the number of candidates for the competition to those designers you are seriously interested in, and notify each candidate about whom they are competing with, or at least about how many firms are in the competition. Limiting the number of competitors increases the motivation for all candidates to participate fully. This is especially important when the honorarium is less than the design fee would be for the same amount of work.

3. Select design firms that can demonstrate similar capability. Selecting firms with widely differing levels of expertise and administrative support can skew the results of a competition.

Should you require any assistance or advice on how to proceed with a competition, or any further information on the GDC, please contact the Chair of our Ethics Committee through the GDC National Secretariat at director@gdc.net.