With over 1200 guests it was an event not to be missed offering the opportunity to celebrate the best in product design, to network, catch up with colleagues and to make new contacts.

The red dot: best of the best award winners received their awards onstage, under the spotlights, with forty-nine winners chosen from 683 finalists and judged by a panel of twenty-seven international judges, from Europe, Asia and the Americas. 

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Radius touring cup to the 2009 award winning design team of the year, Tupperware. Tupperware now joins the red dot Hall of Fame with other design studio greats such as the Bose design team, the design team at BMW and the LG Electronics’ design centre, as a design team of excellence and world renown.

Headed by vice-president of global design, Susan Perkins, Tupperware has consistently created high quality products for the home. A world famous brand, Tupperware has produced simple and colourful products with their signature seal.

Tupperware was founded by Earl Silas Tupper who created the famous Wonder Bowl in the 1950s, with its patented burping seal. The company and its products have now grown to make Tupperware a household name, recognised worldwide for the design of its quality storage and functional utensil products.

From a simple concept, Tupperware is as clever as it is innovative. With headquarters in Orlando, Florida, it is an international direct sales company and is sold in many countries around the world.

“With the typical Tupperware design, the company has managed to give ingenious ideas an appropriate form for many years,” said Peter Zec, red dot president. 

“Tupperware’s success story is an example of continuous innovative potential, which has been shaping our daily lives for generations. For this achievement we are honouring the Tupperware World Design Team with the highest distinction that exists in the design world, “ he added.

“Design is a hot topic for manufacturers world wide, who are looking to reinvigorate their brands and positioning in the marketplace with design. Never before has the level of participation from companies been as high, “ said Zec.

Red dot recorded an increase in the number of participating companies in the product design awards program to be close to sixteen per cent. Zec believes the increase demonstrates the positive economic potential of design, particularly in times of crisis.

For the first time, prize winners included products from nations not historically connected with excellence in design quality such as India, Thailand, Brazil and Lebanon.

Seventeen per cent of the awards went to Asia this year, with fifty-three winners coming from Taiwan.

“The huge innovation potential demonstrated by the products from Asia this year provides proof that good design is certainly no longer exclusive to the western world,” said Zec.

“More and more Asian companies have understood that they can only succeed on the international market if they respond to their competitors with top design quality. The results have wholly convinced our red dot jury that Asia is the market of the future,” said Zec.

“Asian countries have come up with product ideas that are consistently inspiring and have great potential to set international trends. The large number of Taiwanese participants in the competition in particular has shown us that the priorities in the Asian design industry are constantly changing.

“In a world without familiar brands, we lose direction. Brands have the potential to give a culture an identity and their design performance gives it direction, a whole way of life, and shapes our everyday life in a lasting manner.

“There was a noted increase in the awareness of quality from manufacturers submitting products for awards. In times of crisis, companies make a conscious decision to submit fewer products, but these products are better than ever before.” Zec added.

An exhibition of Tupperware design at the red dot design museum located on the cultural heritage site Zeche Zollverein in Essen will run for twelve months, and all award winning products will be exhibited in the museum’s Schurerhall or Stoker’s Hall. 

Professor Dr Peter Zec, red dot president, shares his insights into the winning ways of designers and design teams…

What were the highlights of this year’s product design awards?

We were delighted to see that despite the common prognosis we had more entries to the red dot award: product design 2009 than ever. This proves that more and more companies have acknowledged the importance of design and the necessity to face the global competition in order to stand out from the crowd.

When the market is saturated, designers face their biggest challenge. The goal is to set standards with innovative design concepts, to translate the variety of technical possibilities into an original and individual form and at the same time stay true to the company culture.

This year, the merging of different living spaces as well as the use of high-quality materials and experimental use of new manufacturing techniques were important additions. Natural elements, white or beige hues, and wood or stone are used in current furniture design – as are bold colours such as yellow, purple, and blue.

Due to the many design options, used in innovative ways by designers, everything seems possible; however, clear forms continue to dominate and the design language remains emotional and sensitive throughout.

Design always functions as an authentic portrayal of our everyday culture. Therefore, we were delighted to announce the Tupperware world wide design team as the red dot: design team of the year 2009.

This honorary title is regarded as the highest honorary distinction in the design world and Tupperware has been awarded for over sixty years of continually outstanding and influential innovative design work.

How does a design group become the design team of the year?  What stands out in a team award?

The “design team of the year” title is highly respected within the profession and well known throughout the world. It has been awarded annually by red dot since 1988 to international design teams which continuously produce innovative design work that set high standards through groundbreaking design innovation.

red dot together with the red dot institute for advanced design studies has been observing the international market for years. The continued success of international companies in design strength in the market, as well as design continuity and development over many years, are decisive criteria in the election of the red dot: design team of the year.

Those companies that are most successful with their design strategy compared to their direct competitors are short-listed and then, with regard to a certain diversification in the categories, the final decision is made by red dot.

The observation focuses not only on large brands but also, and particularly, considers those companies that are not yet well-known but recognised for their outstanding design work.

The winning design team receives the “Radius” challenge trophy at the awards presentation from the former design team winner. The list of winners from the past years reads like a ‘who’s who of international design’ and includes teams from adidas, Pininfarina, Nokia, Apple, Siemens, and frogdesign.

Tales of success

While the universal appeal of Tupperware lies in a successful combination of familiarity with surprise, it was teamwork and vision that set the company’s design team apart at the recent red dot design awards.

The company’s long-term success is the result of several factors including visionary leadership, its direct selling business model and a commitment to quality innovative design, according vice president of global design, Susan Perkins.

“At Tupperware we sell products to our friends and family, we have a personal relationship with our consumer. This relationship creates a unique commitment to quality that is a shared vision across engineering, manufacturing and design,” explains Perkins.

The Tupperware design team is a diverse group of eleven talented individuals working out of two separate geographic locations; one team is located in Aalst, Belgium and the other at global headquarters in Orlando, Florida. With projects in various stages of development the team can sometimes be working on as many as forty different projects.

Function is a priority for the design team, committed to creating products that endure, says Perkins.

“Earl Tupper set the bar for innovative design when he founded the company and now, as part of the product development team, design must elevate the standard set by Mr Tupper.

“The products must endure, in terms of both the quality and the design language. Ultimately a Tupperware product should surprise and delight you. We are a home party company and our products should embody the spirit of a party everyone would want to attend.”

Tupperware has influenced and changed the lives of people around the globe, says Perkins, suggesting many careers have been built around the brand.

“The relationships that the brand has built, and continues to build, around the globe are personal. We are much more than the products we sell. The products are the conduit enabling us to empower people.

"As the head of design it is imperative to me that we create products that cement the relationship Tupperware has with the people who have chosen to build a career with Tupperware and their friends and family that buy our product.”

Perkins believes a focus on function and quality alone is not in keeping with the tradition established by Earl Tupper. “Equal attention must be paid to the creation of simple sophisticated designs that convey an aesthetic that is warm, inviting and friendly,” she suggests. 

One of Tupperware’s most memorable product lines is Allegra, and Perkins notes its success is due to its visual appeal.

“The forms are simple and sophisticated. The play on texture with the soft approachable matte exterior and the bold glossy interior was taken from the look and feel of the seashells found on the Florida beaches. The domed seal creates a soft and inviting visual attraction.”

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