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What does the judging process look like this year?
Judges provide their subjective expertise and an essential human component to the competition evaluation process. They are selected by the award committee and assigned to judge specific award categories based on their areas of expertise. Judges receive a training webinar and are required to adhere to the competition’s judging code of conduct, and to abstain from judging any entries for which they have a conflict of interest (including cases where they recognize a specific member’s work).
All competition entries are screened for eligibility and completion by competition administrators, who have access to the entries’ Design Package and Supporting Documentation. Qualifying entries are moved into the judging round, and are judged on the content of the Design Package.
So that entries remain anonymous when judged, identifying entrant and entry information contained in the Supporting Documentation is not provided to the judges. If the entrant has included identifying information in the Design Package, the entry may be eliminated from the competition before reaching the judging round.
Each qualifying entry is evaluated by a panel of judges working remotely and in isolation from each other (thus avoiding influencing each other’s scoring). Judges are provided with the competition rules, the judging criteria, and each assigned entry’s Design Package. The scores from individual judges are automatically averaged to determine the entry placements.
Following the award ceremony, entrants whose entries qualified for the judging round may choose to view their aggregate judging scores.
Accredited member judges are permitted and encouraged to enter their own projects into the competition. They are not assigned to judge an award category for which they or their employees have submitted entries.
I’d really like to receive feedback from the judges on my project. Is there a way to do so?
Yes! We’ve heard your requests, and new this year, for the first time in the history of the competition, we are excited to include an option to view aggregate scoring from the competition judges. After the award ceremony, qualifying entries will be provided with the average judging score for each criterion. Use this info to improve your chances of winning next year! Note that you will not receive any comments from the judges.
Where can I see past winners?
Check them out here: https://ddacanada.com/awards/decorating-design-competition/past-winners/
Are winners notified in advance?
Yes. While the formal announcement of all winners is not made public until the awards ceremony, winners are notified ahead of time, typically a month or two in advance. Winners are not given advanced notice of the specific winning entry, the category, or the placement they have received. The People’s Choice Interior Decoration finalists are encouraged to promote their work during voting.
What will the Gala look like this year?
Stay tuned. We are working hard to figure out a suitable response to the global pandemic situation, and we appreciate your patience. We are planning a virtual award ceremony for this year and will post updates as they become available.
Why am I required to submit a headshot and bio as part of my entry this year?
We use this information to create the presentations at the award ceremony, as well as for promotion of the winners and their projects. In the past, we’ve asked for this information from the winners following the closing of the competition. Doing so created additional strain on our dedicated volunteers as well as on the awards timeline, and sometimes caught new winners unprepared.
Requiring the information upfront allows the competition to run more smoothly behind the scenes. Plus, it’s good practice for entrants to be prepared with a suitable headshot and bio – you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to use them!
I’d like to enter a project but am missing some of the required components of the competition. Can I enter anyway?
You might be able to, but your entry will be disqualified from the competition if required components are not included. Unless the component is optional, be sure to include it in your submission.
I’m a board member at the local or nation level. Can I enter the competition?
Yes! DDA Canada could not exist or function without the dedication, hard work, and professionalism of our board members. They volunteer their time generously for DDA, working tirelessly on the membership’s behalf to foster the growth of the industry, advocate on policy matters, and promote a positive image of the industry through proactive activities and events, including facilitating the development and support of the many membership benefits we all enjoy.
To reduce bias, the competition relies on anonymous entries, a judging orientation, judging in isolation to avoid groupthink and abstaining from judging if a judge recognizes a member’s work. Board members are encouraged to access as many membership benefits as they are able, including the competition, as we encourage all members to do.
I requested judging feedback and see that my entry received a good score. Why didn’t I win?
Yikes, that’s a loaded question! There are so many details that go into your submission and the judging, and winning entries typically have outstanding scores in all criteria. Maybe your entry could use improvement (Clearer photos? More engaging story?). Maybe you forgot to include some key pieces of information (Floor plan dimensions?). Maybe other members’ work was extra strong this year. It can be disappointing to work hard on your entry, to be justifiably proud of your work, and yet still not win. We’ve all been there. Look at it as a learning opportunity and use the judging feedback to see where you could improve. And best of luck next year!
How common is it that first-time entrants are winners?
Results from our recent award survey were illuminating. Around 25% of past award winners only entered the competition one year, and over 50% of past award winners won in their first two years of competition. Regardless of whether you win, we’re confident that entering your project in the competition will be a fantastic learning opportunity. If you’ve been on the fence about entering, we highly encourage you to take the plunge!
May I submit a room in my own home?
Yes, as long as it fits the eligibility criteria of the category, and the minimum scope of member involvement.
May I enter a spec or model home?
Yes, as long as it fits the eligibility criteria of the category, and the minimum scope of member involvement. The goals of the project should be explained in the design statement.
May I enter a staging project?
Yes, as long as it fits the eligibility criteria of the category, and the minimum scope of member involvement. The goals of the project should be explained in the design statement. Note that real estate listing-style photography is not recommended.
May I enter an edesign project?
Yes, as long as it fits the eligibility criteria of the category, and the minimum scope of member involvement. The goals of the project should be explained in the design statement. All required components (including photos of the finished space) must be included in your submission.
What is the minimum scope of involvement I must have had in the project to enter it in the competition?
The competition aims to accommodate the wide range of service models our members offer, from edesign to turnkey services. The scope of your involvement in the project must be significant enough so that you are the principal design professional on the project, and so that the project is your principal work.
In addition, the final outcome of the project must reflect your design plan and vision. This is particularly relevant in projects where you were not present on site and couldn’t ensure that the project was implemented to your satisfaction.
So long as you are the principal design professional on the project, the project is your principal work, and the outcome follows your design plan and design vision to your satisfaction, you may enter it. See the Emerging Professional category FAQ for info on additional restrictions in these categories.
The minimum scope of involvement is open to some interpretation. See the image here for a visualization of the scope of involvement: https://ddacanada.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/effort-awards.png
If you’d like guidance on whether your project meets the minimum scope of involvement, contact Robin Boles, Awards Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I submit photo-realistic renderings rather than photos for my project images?
No. Project images must be photographs of the finished space. 3D renderings may be submitted as part of the Drawings Package, but are entirely optional.
I’ve used some Photoshop tools on my project images. Is that permitted?
Post-production photo editing, such as making minor adjustments and removing small flaws, is permitted. More significant, obvious photoshopping of the photos is not permitted.
How detailed should my budget be?
This is a high-level view that establishes for the awards administrators whether the project has been submitted to the correct award category. Your budget should reflect the overall cost of the project for the client, excluding design fees and any appliances. Rounding to the nearest $100 or $1,000 is acceptable. If the project was part of a larger project scope, only the components associated with the award entry should be included in the budget (for example if you are entering a kitchen that was part of a larger main floor reno, only include the costs associated with the kitchen portion of the project. Entrants are to indicate whether they supplied the product/service or whether the client purchased the product/service directly.
I was hired to do the design for the project, and the client hired the trades directly. Do I still need to submit a budget for the project?
Yes. In your budget submission, you need to indicate the overall project costs to the client (excluding design fees and any appliances), your involvement in purchasing for the project, and the products and services that the client purchased directly on their own.
I worked with some great suppliers and brands on my project. Is there a way to acknowledge them in my entry?
Yes. There is an option to include information about DDA Affiliate members (suppliers), and other suppliers and product brands in the Supporting Documentation of your entry. Be sure not to include this information in your Design Statement.
Why is the Pinnacle Award now called the People’s Choice Interior Decoration Award?
We heard your feedback in the recent awards survey. The Pinnacle Award was originally intended to raise the profile of the DDA with the general public, as well as give Pinnacle finalists the opportunity to engage their fan base. Calling it the Pinnacle Award led to a perception that the winning entry is declared to be the best of the best, when in fact, it’s the crowd favourite of a subset of winning entries. Renaming the award not only continues to provide valuable outreach opportunities for DDA, the finalists, and the ultimate winner, but also clarifies its purpose, sets expectations, and allows us to collectively celebrate the crowd-pleasing winner!
My project didn’t win last year, but I’d like to try again. Is that allowed?
Yes. If your project didn’t win, but you still think it’s a potential award winner, you may enter it again in the future. We recommend reviewing it with a trusted peer to see what could be improved before you resubmit.
Following this year’s competition, you’ll have access to the average judging score for all of your qualifying entries. For next year, unless your judging score was truly outstanding, we don’t recommend resubmitting your entry without making improvements first.
My project won Bronze in the competition, but I’d like to try again for Gold. Is that allowed?
No. Once your project has won any DDA award, you may not enter it again.
Accredited Interior Decoration Categories FAQ
I see there’s a new requirement this year for a drawings package in the interior decoration categories. While I provide my clients with floor plans, I don’t provide elevations. Do I need to create elevations in order to enter the competition?
Not necessarily. For the interior decoration award categories, elevations are only required when detailed millwork (such as wall paneling) or built-ins were part of the project scope. If your project included neither of these features, you are not required to submit elevations in these categories. (Note that all Kitchen and Bath categories, and the Commercial Space category require full floor plans and elevations).
My interior decoration project included a kitchen and bath. May I enter the whole project (including the kitchen and bath) in an interior decoration award category?
No. Kitchen and bath projects may only be entered in the Kitchen and Bath categories or, for eligible members, the Emerging Professional categories. While it is acceptable to catch a glimpse of a kitchen or bath in the background of an interior decoration category photo, kitchens and baths cannot be the major focus of any photos in these categories.
If you’re not sure whether to include a photo that features some kitchen or bath views, err on the side of caution and exclude it, or contact the Awards Chair, Robin Boles, email@example.com, for guidance.
My project involved two adjacent rooms, a family room and a dining area, which were decorated for continuity. Can they both be included in one entry?
Yes. However, in most cases it is better to showcase a single room, where the budget was focused. You may choose to submit two adjacent rooms as a single entry if they flow together. Note that kitchens and bathrooms should not be included in any Interior Decoration category.
Accredited Kitchens & Bath Design FAQ
I’d like to enter an open-concept kitchen I designed. Can I include photos of the adjacent spaces?
Yes. While the judging will focus on the kitchen area, providing a limited number of additional photos of the surrounding space will provide valuable context for the judges.
Accredited Emerging Professional Categories FAQ
I’d like to enter a project in the Emerging Professional Categories. How can I be sure I’m eligible to do so?
To be eligible to enter in the Emerging Professional Categories, you must have graduated from a DDA-recognized program within the last 5 years (proof is required with your entry). The project must be your original design concept, and must have been executed without a more experienced design professional’s supervision.
What exactly is considered an acceptable project type in the Emerging Professional categories?
First, confirm that you are eligible to enter in the Emerging Professional categories, above. Any residential decorating and/or design project can be entered into these categories, including kitchens and baths. Note that you may enter a specific project in only one category during any given competition year (ie you cannot enter the same kitchen in the Emerging Professional category and the Kitchens category this year).
Accredited Commercial Space Category FAQ
My commercial project was completed for a branded space, and the logo and business name appear in my photos. Is this acceptable?
No. You may not include any identifying information in your Design Package submission. Business names and logos should be obscured in your photography, which can be done using post-production editing. While you cannot include the client business name in your design statement, you are expected to outline the type of business you worked for as well as their particular design needs.
Should your entry be a winner, you will have an opportunity to submit the original photos (displaying the client business name and logo) before the awards ceremony.
Student Award FAQ
I implemented my student project in real life. Can I enter my real-world project?
Yes, but do not include any photos of the space. Only include the conceptual components required with your entry.Should your entry be a winner, you will have an opportunity to submit the original photos (displaying the client business name and logo) before the awards ceremony.
I will have graduated from my program before the competition closes. Can I still enter a project as a student?
It depends on whether you are a Student DDA Member or not. If you are a Student Member, you may enter the competition as long as your membership is current when the competition closes. If you are not a Student Member, then no. You must be registered in your program at the time the competition closes.
My project included a Universal Design kitchen and a Universal Design bath. Can I enter both in the Student Universal Kitchen & Bath Design category?
No. You may only enter a single kitchen or bathroom project.
Have a question that isn’t noted above?