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N° 77–2001: The influence of space on design: a competition is launched

20 December 2001

As part of its ongoing efforts to generate public awareness of the importance and influence of space research and development, the European Space Agency (ESA) is holding a competition within its Member States to show how space materials and technologies can help meet basic needs of society. The idea behind the competition is that young designers should work materials in new ways to embody essential characteristics, features and properties of those used in space. This will assist in promoting the belief that European space activities are in tune with a social vision of the world and can present a more human, caring and friendly face. In addition, it will increase public understanding of design, especially in relation to space technologies, by showing how cultural, social and economic influences interact with the dimension of space.


The competition, an initiative of the ESA Technology Transfer Programme, is being organised jointly by ESA, @Loeb, and VIA (Valorisation de l'Innovation dans l'Ameublement), which promotes French creation and assists young designers not only in France, but increasingly throughout Europe.

Adapting new materials, technologies, processes and concepts employed in space to design and/or make objects or products creates exciting possibilities for designers. The actual brief or task for entrants is to design something imaginative which embodies the principles and characteristics of space and transfers them to life on earth. The design may have a specific use or application in the home or elsewhere, it may improve the quality of life or comfort for individuals (children, handicapped people, the elderly, refugees, for instance) in a specific environment, or it may even serve no useful purpose at all, but simply possess beauty as a work of art.

The basic condition is that the object should be made from materials and technologies either specifically developed for space or extensively used in space; or it could be made of materials which are not necessarily used in space, but are associated with it - in this case the object should exhibit space characteristics (lightweight, futuristic etc).

Concepts and designs can be entered in any of six categories which reflect today's lifestyle and environment. An international jury will select 25 entries, according to certain criteria, to be made into prototypes or mock-ups/models. Since an objective of the design should be to find an application for a mass market, the mock-ups will be made by individual companies active in the area of the design. This will create and foster a relationship between the designer and a given company which could lead to a more permanent partnership of mutual interest. For the young designer this could help achieve recognition and lead to future designs being more readily considered for production; for the company it could provide a new source of designs.

From the actual models, a further selection will be made with prizes for the three best designs (selected by an international committee), and a prize for the winner in each category.

A selection of 50 or so of the designs, including the 25 best or most interesting ones, will form the subject of a book - which will include an introductory chapter on the influence of space on art and design, as well as details about each of the designers and their philosophy. The models made from the 25 designs will be shown in major design exhibitions throughout the ESA Member States and on the website devoted to the competition.

The competition will be open to young designers aged between 20 and 40 who are nationals of any of the ESA Member States (plus Canada). Exceptions will be made for young designers from other countries studying at a university in one of the Member States or already resident and working there.

The competition will be launched in January, with entries to be submitted by 31 March. Selection of the 25 designs to be made into models will take place in May. Following model development and construction (June-December), the winners will be announced in January 2003.

Further information

Further information about the competition is available on the competition website at or from:

Mr David Raitt

Technology Transfer Programme

European Space Agency - ESTEC

PO Box 299

2200 AG Noordwijk

The Netherlands


tel: +31-71-5653017

fax: +31-71-5653854

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