New Zealand's Best

Enter the Awards.

Entry Process

Key Dates 2016

Call for Entries – 4 April 
Close of Entries – 1 July, 6pm
Late Entries – 6 July, 6pm
Supporting Material - 8 July
Judging Week– 31 July - 6 August
Awards Night – 14 October 

Online Entering

Is your work eligible? 

  • All work that has been commercially released by June 30 2016 is eligible for entry to the 2016 Best Awards
  • You may enter your work in more than one category, or subcategory, where appropriate

How to enter your work

  • Upload 10 images online in the order you want to present your work
  • Hero Image to be your first image
  • 300dpi RGB jpegs sized 210mm x 148mm high
  • Images are restricted to a maximum of 8MB each

Explain your project

  • Explain your project so the judges understand the brief and context, the thinking, the concept and the execution – refer Evaluation Criteria
  • Up to 400 words
  • 11pt font size

Keeping your work anonymous
It is critical that the name of the entrant / studio / tertiary institution is not visible anywhere on the online entry, explanation, or supporting material.

Supporting Material

Delivery to the Designers Institute office by Friday 8 July.

The judges encourage you to send additional material such as a mood boards, models to the Designers Institute to be taken into consideration in the judging process.  

  • Your Entry Number must be attached to supporting material
  • It is the responsibility of the entrant to courier supporting material
  • Supporting material can be returned by paying courier fees during the online entry process

Keeping your work anonymous
Once again, it is critical that the name of the entrant / studio / tertiary institution is not visible anywhere on supporting material.

Address for supporting material
Designers Institute of New Zealand
Ground Floor, Suite 5

27 Gillies Avenue


Video as additional Supporting Material

  • Short 90 second video
  • Flythroughs, renders and process videos
  • Simply upload your video to Vimeo or YouTube
  • Include a URL as part of the entry process
  • Ensure that the link is still live for the judging in August

Keeping your video anonymous
Once again, it is critical that the name of the entrant / studio / tertiary institution is not visible anywhere on the video.


Enter the names of the:  

  • Design Director(s) 
  • Design Team 
  • Contributors
    - List only the individual name or company
    - Don’t list the ‘role’ of the contributor
  • Client

Enter the names of the:

  • Designer 
  • Design Team 
  • Contributors
    - List only the individual name or company
    - Don’t list the ‘role’ of the contributor 
  • Lecturer(s)

Check before you submit

Confirm all credits with your Design Director / Lecturer before you do the final entry submission

Any names you leave out cannot be added once your entry has been submitted

Sorry we WON’T make changes once you have submittied the entry.

Entry Fees

  • Non members $289 per entry
  • Designers Institute member $189 per entry
  • Design Institute of Australia member $189 per entry
  • Australian Graphic Design Association $189 per entry
  • Students $99 per entry

If you join the Institute during the Best Design Awards before you enter, you will be able to benefit from the membership rates.


  • Payment is by credit card
  • We accept Visa or Mastercard processed online securely through DPS

Expect email confirmations:

  • GST invoice / receipt after confirmation of the payment
  • Entry Number
  • Requested products samples must have the Entry Number when delivered

Awards and Categories

Awards Criteria

Purple - Best of the Best
Gold - Best entry in category
Silver - strongly considered for Gold
Bronze - worthy of award recognition 
Finalists - meritorious

Evaluation Criteria

Aesthetic and Appearance
The judges will look, not only at the aesthetics, but the consideration and resolution of the elements that drive the aesthetics, e.g. context/location, brand alignment and choice and use of materials in support of design.

Concept and Creativity
This encompasses design thinking, conceptual development creativity, originality, and critical reasoning, e.g. appropriateness of response to the brief, relevant research and themes for inspiration.

Answering the brief
What was important to achieve as an outcome for the client and how does the design achieve this, and fit for purpose from a user experience point of view.

Technical resolution and innovation
This is the opportunity to communicate any technical aspects. It may include special details, challenges or opportunities and how they have been overcome or used to their advantage.

Explain if innovation was important or a driver in the design.

Consistency and clarity
Have all the elements been resolved with consistency and clarity through the process.


Colour Award
This category recognises the innovative and creative use of colour within the built environment. This may include natural materials and other elements that contribute to the completed scheme.

Emerging Designer
Entrants in the Emerging Designer category will be 35 years or younger submitting a realised project either wholly or substantially under their responsibility or leadership.

Projects that might be entered in any of the other spatial categories are eligible for this award. The entrant must be 35 years of age or younger on the last day for entries to the awards programme.

In addition to the general evaluation criteria entries will be assessed on the basis of:

  • Complexity of project e.g. how involved was the project? Did it have multiple clients or stakeholders to be managed? What, if any, external pressures existed on the project? What design challenges were faced?
  • Contribution and/or leadership responsibilities e.g. what level of contribution and responsibility did the entrant have? What capacity for decision making was theirs? Did the project involve a larger team under the entrant’s direction?

Categories continued...

Exhibition Installations & Temporary Structures 
Exhibition installations, studios and stage sets


NEW subcategories introduced in 2015 to enter under: 

  • Food and Beverage: bars, cafes, restaurants
  • Accommodation: lodges, spas, retreats, hotels, motels

Judges will mark each sub category separately to assess finalists.

Those judged Silver from each subcategory will then be judged together for the selection of the Gold Pin(s).

Offices & Workplace Environments
Offices, factories, specialist facilities.

NEW subcategories introduced in 2015 to enter under: 

  • Up to 200 square metres
  • Between 200 and 1000 square metres
  • Over 1000 square metres

Judges will mark each sub category separately to assess finalists.

Those judged Silver from each subcategory will then be judged together for the selection of the Gold Pin(s).

Public & Institutional Spaces
Hospitals, schools, community/conference centres, museums.

Residential Interiors
Apartments, private homes, multi residential living, mobile homes.

The entry should convey the design of a minimum of 2 spaces/rooms within a single residence demonstrating a cohesive and creative design response to the client’s brief and highlighting any specific design considerations with respect to brief including but not limited to location, cultural considerations, end user requirements 

Retail Environments 
Shopping environments, banks, supermarkets, salons, showrooms, galleries, retail stores.

NEW subcategories introduced in 2015 to enter under:

  • Up to 150 square metres
  • Over 150 square metres

Judges will mark each sub category separately to assess finalists.

Those judged Silver from each subcategory will then be judged together for the selection of the Gold Pin(s).

Spatial Design Communication 
This category recognises and celebrates the design process through recognition of the tools, processes and outputs required to realise a project.

The project must have been realised and completed to be eligible for this category.
Rendering, animation, sketches, models, documentary photography and other modes of presentation supporting the development of the design process on a given project may be entered.
Examples include but are not limited to: developmental sketches and drawings, models, animations and fly-thru’s, finished renderings or similar.
Entries will be assessed on the basis of:
  • Appropriate media selection for intended outcome e.g. demonstrate that the selected media is appropriate for the purposes it was chosen. Why was it selected (best way of demonstrating intended outcome, cost, time)? 
  • Quality of execution e.g. present the information to its best effect demonstrating the quality of the output
  • Effectiveness of outcome e.g. demonstrate how the piece(s) impacted the project and the role they played in the ultimate outcome. Comparative images between design communication pieces submitted and the realised outcome along with explanations of differences (as the design process progressed) would be an advantage

Sustainable Design 
Spatial projects which strongly demonstrate design of sustainability.

Entries in the Sustainable category must be accompanied by a written Statement of Sustainability, which clearly describes the project objectives, design process and solutions, and technical resolution. This should include appropriate measurement and metrics where applicable.
The project and its outcomes will be assessed in terms of a Triple Bottom Line approach:
  • Economic e.g. Does the project meet the budget? Is it efficient (i.e. doesn't waste materials during fitout or energy/natural resources in use)? Does it bring in, or increase business? Has whole of life cost been considered? 
  • Social e.g. Does the project educate users about sustainable ethos? Does it improve community involvement in sustainable initiatives? 
  • Environmental e.g. How does the project minimise impact on the environment? How intensive is use of resources? What construction methods and materials were selected (sustainable supply, third party verified, embodied energy, locally sourced, recycled content, recyclable etc)? Is it designed to be disassembled, and what happens at the 'end of life' of products used (is process documented)? A schedule with explanations of the environmental initiatives incorporated into the project including but not limited to: energy, water use, indoor environment quality, materials, management, waste and transport would be an advantage 
Unrealised and Concept Projects
Entries in this category will be projects either unrealised but of sufficient quality to warrant recognition, or purely conceptual ventures with no intent to be realised.

Submissions must include material supporting the clear explanation of the project given its unbuilt or conceptual nature. This should include content outlining the purpose and intended outcomes for the project.

If originally intended to be realised, an explanation of the reasons for incompletion would be an advantage.

Entries will be assessed on the basis of the general evaluation criteria for realised projects.



Convenor and Judges

In each discipline judging criteria differs, but across all disciplines work must be:

  • Original.
  • Well executed.
  • Relevant to its industry and context.

We take judging seriously and strive to keep judging fair and balanced. The Designers Institute Head of Judges, the CEO, works with the Convenor of Judges, Alasdair Hood, FDINZ, to select individual judges. See link for Head of Judges and Convenor of Judges roles.

Judges are selected on a good cross section from the following broad based criteria:

  • Respected in the industry
  • Past winners known for the high calibre of their work
  • Able to be objective
  • Those that have had a significant role to play in the industry from related organisations in the industry or from offshore (eg. AGDA, DIA, Icograda etc.)

Judging Week

Judging week is at the AUT Conference Centre, Auckland.

Judging for Spatial is held over two days.

The entries submitted online are printed by the Designers Institute as four A3 pages onto quality paper. These are laid out in their categories on large tables for the judges to evaluate. 
Additional supporting information is placed with the entry.

The Convenor of Judges will give a full briefing before judging commences on the role of the judges, the criteria, the process and the rules.

The judging is private and silent with a scoring system of 1-15 refer to the Evaluation Criteria.

The entries are then ordered by their scores.

After each category, the judges are given the chance to discuss the work before final selections are made.

Transparency of Judging

The Convenor of Judges manages conflicts of interest during the judging process.

Individual judges (including the Convenors) with conflicts of interest around a specific entry are required to remove themselves from the room during the final assessment process.

Conflicted judges cannot enter into discssion with other judges and must not influence jduging of either the specific entry they are conflicted by or other entrants in that category.

The Head of Judges may temporarirly take over the Convenors role in cases where the Convenor has a conflict of interest to ensure judging fairness is maintained.

If judges reach a point of disagreement, then the Convenor can assist judges with their discussion to reach agreement or an acceptable compromise.

In the case where the judges scores are tied, the Convenor of Judges may make the casting vote with the judges consent to do so.

The Convenor is also responsible for keeping the judging fair and consistent and will manage 'strong willed' judges from unfairly influencing the overall results of the panel.