What challenges should designers face now, as found at the GOOD DESIGN AWARDs.

FOCUSED ISSUES is a GOOD DESIGN AWARD initiative that depicts the future of design in society through the screening process.



Considering “FOCUSED ISSUES 2023”

Why design is expected to be “brave” and “organic” now—Background of the theme of 2023 FOCUSED ISSUES


“Brave Attitude, Organic Design”—This year, GOOD DESIGN AWARD FOCUSED ISSUES has started afresh, with a renewed purpose and process. With a vision of being a “think tank of design,” Focused Issues will capture the “wave” of design behind award-winning works and determine a theme every year. The 2023 theme “Brave Attitude, Organic Design” was determined through a series of screening processes. This article will explore the intention of these words in detail.

This year, GOOD DESIGN AWARD FOCUSED ISSUES has started afresh, with a vision of being a “think tank of design.”

The “wave” of design captured during cross-sectional screening is verbalized and transformed into a “theme” symbolizing the year. The theme will be promoted as a way of making a proposal to society.

Accordingly, the 2023 theme has been determined as “Brave Attitude, Organic Design,” following the screening process.

Brave Attitude, Organic Design: FOCUSED ISSUES theme decided

A total of six people were in charge of FOCUSED ISSUES: the chairperson, the vice chairpersons, and FOCUSED ISSUES researchers. Throughout the months-long screening process which started with the first screening in June, they explored the “wave” by looking at all entries from their own specialties and perspectives, apart from the usual screening process.

Seiichi Saito, the chairperson of the screening committee who leads this activity, explains the intention of setting this theme as follows.

The role of design has evolved from creating things that do not exist yet and has been predominantly focusing on improving existing things. “Why” and “I” creating this “now”? Various designs are born by facing such questions with Brave and organic thinking and systems that can adapt to the ever-changing future, and sometimes this offers a bit of improvement and other times a broad and drastic change. We want to show the front and back of design with FOCUSED ISSUES.

This article will explore the intention of this year’s theme in detail based on the discussions among these six who are in charge of FOCUSED ISSUES.

(From left)Yuko Nagayama, Vice Chairperson of GOOD DESIGN AWARD 2023, Seiichi Saito, Chairperson, Jin Kuramoto, Vice Chairperson

“Brave” Attitude—To create and propel challenges

The keyword “brave” came up first when developing the theme, “Brave Attitude, Organic Design.”

The 2023 award winners include outstanding designs by independent players and teams, as well as large companies.

These outstanding award-winning designs had one thing in common. They were created as a result of consistent involvement in design from upstream processes such as product planning and business design, led by in-house designers.

In such a situation, “designers who head upstream” need a “brave” attitude in order to achieve results in large companies.

Just as designers need to show a precedent-breaking “brave” attitude to take the first step, managers and organizations should also be “brave” to accommodate and support such an attempt.

Furthermore, a “brave” attitude is essential for not just large companies, but also for all players trying new things including independent teams and locally based players.

Various stakeholders and players continue to take on challenges with a “brave” attitude.

“Design and its Outcome,” the theme of GOOD DESIGN AWARD 2023 set by the chairperson Saito, is the fruit of accumulated “brave” attitudes.

2023 GOOD DESIGN AWARD FOCUSED ISSUES researchers,(from left)Aki Hayashi, Sakura Nomiyama, Yutaka Nakamura

“Organic Design”—Individuals, organizations, and communities intertwine

Then, the keyword “organic” was derived by chance following the keyword “brave.”

When “brave” was first presented, some members of the FOCUSED ISSUES team took its sound “yuki” for the word “organic.” (*In Japanese, both “brave” and “organic” are pronounced the same, “yuki.”) This was just a product of chance, but eventually, they concluded that the word “organic” also describes the direction in 2023 from another viewpoint. The accidentally derived keyword got to the crux.

So far, Japanese corporate organizations have been calling for cross-sectional structures linking companies and departments without clinging to a “hierarchical structure.”

However, as the mid-2020s approaches, some people started to point out that people need to connect with each other in all directions, up, down, left, and right, like an amoeba. Moreover, ways for teams to work may need to be more flexible, gathering and parting whenever they want.

In response to the demands of the times, some organizations have started to form “organic” connections that produce “Design and its Outcome.”

The 2023 screening process has led us to the insight that large companies, not only independent players and teams, started to have such “organic” teams within their organizations. In addition, some projects went beyond organizational boundaries, intertwining with local players, and formed “organic” project structures.

Each member and team, as well as the project as a whole, has its own role, complementing and transforming each other. In many cases, “Design and its Outcome” was produced in such fractal and “organic” relationships.


“Brave” attitude and “organic” design yield to a dynamic mechanism

“Brave” players venture to take the first step. Then, other members support and assist with such challenges with a “brave” attitude. The “organic” connections of the entire team, or the entire organization or community above the team, yield to a dynamic mechanism that produces unprecedented outcomes—.

This understanding and analysis on the process of producing “Design and its Outcome” led to the theme of the 2023 GOOD DESIGN AWARD FOCUSED ISSUES “Brave Attitude, Organic Design.”

The six members, such as the chairperson, the vice chairpersons, and FOCUSED ISSUES researchers will report on their activities as a “think tank of design” in the future.

“Surely carrying a new ‘wave’ to tomorrow and the next year. This is what is expected of the GOOD DESIGN AWARD and Japan Institute of Design Promotion.”—check a later-coming report by chairperson Saito based on his thoughts.


Masaki Koike


Editor. He does planning and editing in multiple media, mainly in collaboration with researchers and creators.

Shunsuke Imai

Imai Photographer

He was born in Minamiuonuma City, Niigata in 1993. He became independent after working for amana Inc.