Collected here are answers to our most frequently asked questions. We hope this information helps to make your IDEA entry process as smooth as possible. 

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Entering the Competition   I   Payment Information   I   Sending a Product to The Henry Ford   I   Judging   I   Winner Recognition


How do I enter my project in IDEA?
All entries are made using our online awards platform. If you are not an IDSA member, you must first become a member or create an account in order to submit your project. 

Do I need to send in the actual product as part of my entry?
For the first round of judging, no. We only require the materials submitted with the entry form. This includes written description of your project, images and video (optional). During round one, judges will make initial assessments based on these materials and will select Finalists to participate in the round two of judging. If you are selected round two, you will be invited to send your actual product to The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI for review by our judges. More details on round two are below.

What is "Design Credit"?
A list of all the individual names (or teams if you prefer) of the people who contributed to the design you are submitting on their behalf. Please note: If there are more than five (5) people on your team and you win an award, please list the company name and not the individuals.

How should I list the design credits if the design team is in-house? 
You should list the company as a design credit and also as the client/manufacturer.

Our design team is in-house. Is it still permissible for the manufacturer’s name and logo to appear in the entry?
Yes, names or logos of manufacturing companies/clients may appear ONLY if they are inherent to the product. If the design team has its own identity though, you may NOT include its name or logo in your entry answers or photos.

I am a student, so which entry form should I use?
Students use the exact same form as everyone else, just select “Student” and the corresponding category when entering your information. If you would like to be judged against practicing professionals, you must select “Professional” and will be charged the higher professional fee.

Can I enter a concept?
If your design is scheduled for production, you cannot enter it as a concept. If it doesn’t meet the distribution requirements because it’s not yet in production, you must wait and enter it the following year. However, if the design has been cancelled or was never scheduled for production it can be entered as a concept. Additionally, concepts can be submitted in the student category. Please contact IDSA if you require further clarification –

What does “in distribution” mean?
In distribution means it’s available for purchase through normal sales channels. For the most part, this means the general public should be able to find it and purchase the product. Certain items such as planes, expensive medical equipment, etc. will be considered "in distribution" if orders have been taken from the end client.

Is it ok to include text on the images?
Yes, except on the first glamour shot, which may be used if you win. This should be minimal, however; let the pictures speak for themselves whenever you can!

Can I enter the same design in more than one category?
Yes, but you must pay a separate entry fee for each category entered.

Can the same design win in more than one category?
Yes, but not in two product categories (for example, not in both Consumer Technology and Lifestyle & Accessories). The same design can win in a product category as well as in a design category (i.e., Design Strategy). Organizers and judges have the right to move designs into the category where the design will have the best chance of winning without consulting the entrant.

Can I enter a family of products as one entry?
Yes! Make sure the whole family is in the glamour shots. Remember: typically, no product will be assessed independent of the others; they will be judged as one group. That being said, the judges have the ability and authority to ‘pull’ one out of the line-up if they feel this is warranted. 



Do I have to pay before I can enter?
You can create your online account and upload all of your entry materials in advance of paying; as long as the payment is received and entry is submitted before the regular deadline, no late fees will be assessed. Any entries paid for after the regular entry deadline, however, will be assessed late fees.

Other than entry fees, what fees will winners be obligated to pay?
When entering IDEA, you will pay the initial entry fee. If your product is selected as a finalist, there is an additional entry fee to continue on in the competition.There is no additional winner's fee. We do not require winners to pay anything extra for Yearbook and website inclusion, logos, etc. You will need to purchase a Gala ticket in order to receive your trophy. Should you choose not to attend the Gala, you will be asked to pay the trophy shipping fee. 

Will I be charged the late entry price if I put the entry in my cart during the regular period?
Our rates are determined at the time you submit the entries in your cart. Regardless of when you add the submission to your cart, we cannot offer you regular pricing if you wait to submit the entry until the late period.

How do I pay late fees?
If you submit a late entry, the online entry software automatically will add the late fee to your account and you will be responsible for settling your account prior to the final deadline.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express and wire/bank transfers.

Can I request a refund? 
Sorry, there are no refunds. If you submit payment for an entry and then decide not to enter the competition or miss the entry deadlines, IDSA does not issue refunds.



This portion of the IDEA 2020 program is being postponed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. If your entry is advanced to Round Two, DO NOT send your products to The Henry Ford Museum. 

What does the second round handling fee cover?
There is a separate $50 handling fee for unpacking and setting up of your product. This fee does not cover return shipping of your product.

Can you return my product if I do not send a pre-paid shipping label with it to jurying?
No. Entrants are encouraged to send a physical product to The Henry Ford jurying site if their entry is advanced to the second round of the IDEA competition. However, only products sent with a pre-paid return label included will be shipped back to the designated sender after jurying. We accept pre-paid shipping labels using DHL, FedEx and UPS. If you do not include a pre-paid shipping label, you consent to giving your product to the Design Foundation for possible auction or disposal.

Can I come pick up my product personally after jurying at The Henry Ford?
No. We cannot allow individuals to pick up products at the museum for security and logistical reasons. All entrants who wish to have their products returned to them after jurying MUST include a pre-paid shipping label.

Please note:

  • Only products that fit within certain weight/size limits are accepted for round two.
  • We no longer accept prototypes or student models, due to the expense to produce them and the risk of damage in shipping/handling.
  • Finalists not receiving Gold, Silver or Bronze distinction can be returned, only if the appropriate prepaid/return label is included with your product (FedEx, UPS or DHL). Failure to include this return shipping label will result in automatic forfeiture of the sent materials. 
  • Given the large amount of products sent for second round jurying, we cannot/will not be responsible for shipping products back without return labels. 

  • All precautions will be taken to ensure safe return, but IDSA and THF cannot be held responsible for damage to products during the shipping process.

  • Winning products (Gold, Silver or Bronze) submitted for the second round of judging are subject to become part of The Henry Ford Museum's permanent collection. 



How are judges selected for IDEA?
IDSA works with the Jury Chair, a designer who is appointed each year by the Chair of IDSA's Board of Directors, to assemble a diverse and international team of experts across all industries in the competition. If you wish to nominate yourself or someone for participation on a future IDEA Jury, please email your recommendations to

How are IDEA entries judged?
IDEA uses a 'blind' judging process which means that the designers, their names and the names or logos of consulting firms may not appear anywhere in the entry form or image/file uploads. All entries are judged against the following criteria:

  • Design Innovation - How new is the product? What critical problem is it solving? How clever is the solution? Does it advance a product category?
  • Benefit to User - How is the user’s life improved through this design? Can they accomplish things not previously possible?
  • Benefit to Client/Brand - What is the business impact of this design? How has leveraging design proven to be a key market differentiator?
  • Benefit to Society - Does the solution consider social and cultural factors? Is it designed/manufactured with sustainable methods/materials?
  • Appropriate Aesthetics - Does the form of the design adequately relate to its use/function? Are the colors/materials/finishes used befitting to its purpose?

How many winners are selected each year?
IDSA makes no guarantees as to the number and level of IDEAs given each year. All entries are reviewed my multiple judges and only the top scoring entries are awarded top honors. 



When/where is the IDEA Ceremony and Gala?
IDEA 2020 winners will be honored at an event in Seattle, WA. Details to follow.

When and where can I purchase copies of the Yearbook? 
These will be available for purchase online when the Yearbook is published, scheduled for October each year. Copies of past Yearbooks can be ordered directly from IDSA or call 703.707.6000.

When will I receive my certificate(s)? 
Certificates are only available to those finalists that did not receive a Gold, Silver or Bronze award. They will be sent as PDFs upon request starting in October. Please allow three weeks from request for processing.

Who is entitled to receive a trophy? 
One trophy will be given to each Gold, Silver or Bronze-winning design. All winners have the option of purchasing extra trophies. Should you wish to order additional trophies, contact