In order to encourage, recognise, and support writing that engages audiences in critical and contemporary issues in design writing, the Design History Society initiated a new writing prize in 2017. Running for the second time in 2018, this prize is open to scholars, researchers, critics, practitioners and educators within and outside the Society who demonstrate a commitment to furthering the work of critical debate in design through writing. The aim of the Design Writing Prize, in addition to promoting and celebrating excellent new work, is to advocate writing as a necessary and creative practice for communicating ideas related to design. In this vein, entries that include a variety of modes such as essays, interviews, reviews or editorial commentary are welcome and can either be published works or in manuscript phase.

Curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and founder/director of the quarterly design journal Disegno, Johanna Agerman Ross, will be the guest judge for the 2018 Design Writing Prize.


The Essay Prize includes:

  • A cash award of £150 given by the Design History Society
  • One year's membership to the Design History Society (includes subscription to the Journal of Design History and eligibility to apply for further grants and awards)
  • Free place at the Design History Society conference "Design and Displacement", 6-8 September 2018, Parsons School of Design, New York, and a free place at the gala dinner

Winners of the Design Writing Prize are announced at the Annual DHS Conference. All authors are informed of the competition results in late July.


Essay Competition Requirements:

  • The entry must be authored from 2017 onwards and thus be recent writing
  • Entries should not exceed 3,500 words and must be written in English (entries written/published in another language and accompanied by an English translation will be accepted)
  • One digital copy of the essay should be e-mailed to the Design History Society administrator, Elli Michaela Young (designhistorysociety@gmail.com,) by 16.00 GMT on 15 June 2018. The e-mail subject line should clearly state "DHS Design Writing Prize"
  • The essay must be accompanied by an application entry form, which includes an academic nomination

    Note: submissions can be either self-nominated or put forward by a nominator. It is the responsibility of the nominator to ensure the entry criteria is met and the author is aware of the submission. The entry form must be included with the submission and include the signature of both the author and a nominator, along with a brief statement that contextualises the submission

  • Submissions must be sent as PDF files with the accompanying entry form either included within or alongside the PDF in the submission e-mail
  • Consideration should be given to the following selection criteria:

    1. Originality
    The entry should demonstrate a novel approach to debates, themes, and discourses currently relevant to design and related fields

    2. Method
    The essay should demonstrate excellence in writing practice through the selection of tone, mode of communication appropriate for its audience (interview, review, essay etc), position, and delivery of an argument. While methods of research and delivery should reflect good practice in design writing, unconventional or experimental approaches are encouraged

    3. Criticality
    Competence in questioning the submission's subject material and engaging incorporated resources, discourses and methods should be present and coherent. Submissions should surpass description of their material and demonstrate an ability to critically engage in their subject to further an argument

    4. Presentation
    Entries must be well-structured, well-written and presented to a high standard. Where appropriate, they should include appropriate citations (footnotes or endnotes) and a bibliography

The language of this competition is English, however, entries written in another language with provided translations will be accepted.

Good luck!