About IDC
Background

Japan has built an amazingly high-growth economy in the post-war period accompanied by material affluence. However, after the oil crisis, people began to seek a better social environment, one which could provide spiritual and cultural satisfaction. During this period of time, the significance of design as a bridge between spiritual culture and the material civilization began to be recognized.
Meanwhile, the standard of Japanese design has improved remarkably, and a large number of Japanese designers won awards in various international design competitions to draw attention of people in design field throughout the world. Consequently, Japan has changed its position from a receiver to a trendsetter of design. At that time, however, there has not been so-called “international competition” in Japan, and many design-related people in and out of Japan hoped to realize the kind of event.
With this background, the Design Promotion Workshop for Export Inspection and Design Promotion Council of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry proposed a series of measures to promote design projects towards the ‘80s in June 1979. The measures included a proposal to hold a major international design competition in order to improve the global standard of design, to contribute to the event as a nation and to promote the international cultural exchange.

Osaka’s Bid to Host International Design Competition

Osaka was already known as Japan’s industrial design center because of the existence of many talented designers in the area. And the City was actively promoting industrial design, as evidenced in the 1960 establishment of Osaka Design Center. Moreover, Osaka was planning to revive the City’s vitality toward the 21st century by organizing international exchange and cultural events and by constructing facilities for such projects. Encouraged by this social climate, Osaka showed a strong interest in international competitions.
In February 1981, organizations such as Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Osaka Design Chamber jointly submitted to the national government a written request to host the International Design Competition, and as a result, Design Promotion Committee officially announced that the international competition would be held in Osaka every two years starting from 1983.

Establishment of the JDF

The foundation promoter’s meeting was held on October 26, 1981, and it was agreed to set up the Japan Design Foundation (JDF) for the purpose of promoting international exchange in all design fields and contributing to the development of industry and culture and the improvement of society. And the foundation was officially started next month with a permission of Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The International Design Festival

To implement both competition and award projects, discussions have been made to set a policy to make the competition a kind in which any country, whether it is leading or developing can participate. The basic theme for the projects was set to be “Design for Every Being”, and “集:shu (gathering)” to be the first competition theme.
The award project, initially aiming to exhibit the excellent design products from all over the world was having difficulties in setting the standard of the product; therefore, the subject of the award has changed from the product to the individual and team of merit in design activities. As a result, the new idea for the design exhibition was inspired to appeal to citizens, which is an unique and comprehensive design project called “International Design Festival” composed of “International Design Competition”, “International Design Award”, “International Design Exhibition” and other related projects.
Meanwhile the JDF sent representatives to international design organizations such as ICSID (International Council of Industrial Design), ICOGRADA (International Council of Graphic Design Associations) and IFI (International Federation of Interior Architects/Interior Designers), in order to gain official recognition as an international competition and to seek active cooperation for the JDF’s activities.
The opening ceremony of the first International Design Festival Osaka was held on October 7, 1983 in the presence of the Crown Prince and Princess (present Emperor and Empress of Japan) at the World Exposition Hall, and the winners of the first International Design Competition and International Design Award were commended.
The first International Design Exhibition was attended by 266,000 visitors in 19 days, and was widely publicized in the newspapers, magazines and TV programs as a major event linking design with the citizens.

Changes of an international design competition
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