30 aug 2017

How it is to win DesignTalent

Blog by Emil Lagoni Valbak, winner of DesignTalent 2015

A former winner made me curious

The first time I heard about Danish Entrepreneurship Award and the DesignTalent competition was when my previous fellow student Martin D. Christensen won DesignTalent in 2013. Martin’s participation made me curious of the concept, and since then I have imagined Danish Entrepreneurship Award as a good place to create awareness about your design and reach out to many people. So, when the opportunity showed, I sent an application along with a picture of my design Adapt, hoping that I would be one of the nominees for the competition.


At that time, a few months had passed after my graduation at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and I was slowly starting to realize that I no longer was a student, and that I needed to figure out where I belong in a small line of business with many passionate souls. Was there even any interest in what I had to offer? This and similar questions were beginning to occur to me. Because it was so easy to close myself in a little bubble of my own during my education, I saw DesignTalent as an excellent opportunity to finally get out into the world and get the answers to my questions. A couple of days after I had sent in my application, I got the answer that I was one of the 18 nominated from different creative educations for the DesignTalent competition 2015.


The award, the judges and the other talents

The day of the competition started early, and on my way to Fredericia I couldn’t stop thinking about how it all would turn out. Who were the other nominees? I had seen pictures of their designs, but how would they be in real life? What about the judges – would they understand what I want with my design?


When I arrived at the Award, I started unpacking Adapt and making my exhibition area ready. Most of the other contestants were already there. Some were adjusting some last couple of things before the official beginning of the Award, while others were talking together. There was definitely excitement in the air.


The day started officially with us being introduced to the program of the day, and we met the three judges who were there to assess our designs. The judges went from project to project, listening carefully, which gave the rest of us the opportunity to take a look around and talk with the other contestants. While I was looking at the exhibited designs, it was clear to see how wide the design industry in fact is and how many different things you can do within design. For instance, there were furniture, lamps, clothing and even table linen. Even though there was a big variety of all sorts of different projects, the common thing for all of them was the enthusiasm and creativity with which they were all created, which was obvious to see and feel.


During the day, I was given the opportunity to talk to people in different ages – from public school pupils to businesspeople. This gave me a challenging variety, which, nonetheless, kept me focused, as I needed to be precise and informing in the way I communicated to others about my design and ideas. When the judges finally arrived at my exhibition area, I told them about my design, while they asked me questions about the design and its functions.


Award ceremony and recognition

When my conversation with the judges was over, I felt there was a good spirit about my design, and the rest of the day went by with conversations with others interested in my design. Of course, this resulted in me being quite tired at the end of the day when the award ceremony was about to kick off. However, that tiredness quickly disappeared when I heard, to my surprise, my name being announced as the winner of DesignTalent 2015.


The feeling of being called onto stage before 6,000 people and getting recognition for the design that you have worked on so hard for such a long time is hard to describe. On one side, it seems surreal and on the other, it all happens so fast that you just try to hold on to the moment. The positive response that I have received from all sides at Danish Entrepreneurship Award has given me certainty that my designs are relevant. At the same time, this has given me the courage to move forward and do my best to get my designs out into the world.


                                                                    Emil Lagoni Valbak and his winning design Adapt

                                                                               Emil Lagoni Valbak and his winning design Adapt