The Henry van de Velde Awards are the biggest design awards in Belgium. Flanders DC gives these design awards to honour good design in all its shapes and forms. Not only do the awards honour the designers as well as the clients, they also emphasis the excellence of the products, services and projects that are designed and made in Belgium.
Design has many splendid forms. This is why 10 categories are awarded. Designers and their clients (organisors as well as design companies) can enter the competition with their recent products, projects or services. They can chose out of 6 categories: Communication, Design-led Crafts, Ecodesign, Efficiency, Everyday Life and Healthcare. For the Henry van de Velde Awards for Young Talent, Company and Lifetime Achievement, the jury decides indepently, without registration forms. For the final award, the Henry van de Velde Public Award, it is the public at large that has the final vote in an online competition.
The former VIZO Dienst Kunstambacht, later Design Vlaanderen, under the lead of director Johan Valcke, felt the need for a design award that was awarded for the whole of Flanders and for more than one discipline, as there was no award for Belgian or Flemish design professionals in the nineties.
The heirs of Henry van de Velde gave permission to dedicate the awards to the designer and architect Henry van de Velde, one of the famous Belgian designers of the 20th century. The first edition of the Henry van de Velde Awards starts of with in impressive lists of winners.
Throughout the years, the Henry van de Velde Awards are influenced by the evolutions in the design field. The awards given changed a bit, but 3 awards are there from the start in 1994: Young Talent, Lifetime Achievement and Public. The Henry van de Velde Company Award was introduced in 1995 and was immediately there to stay. The prize complementing this group was the Henry van de Velde Best Product Award.
The first editions were awarded and exhibited in the Museum for Applied Arts (now Design museum Gent). In 1999, the edition 1998 moved to the Design Vlaanderen Gallery in Brussels. Once the gallery became to small, Design Vlaanderen partnered up with the Flemish parliament. The awards were given in De Schelp, the exhibition was held in De Lokettenzaal. At the same time, in 2006, the OVAM became proud partner of the Henry van de Velde Awards and gave their OVAM Ecodesign Award PRO during the award ceremony. The award for Best Product was replaced by the Henry van de Velde Labels, a quality label for products.
But history repeats itself. Again, the available space proved to be to small. Since 2014, the award ceremony is held in the Henry Le Boeuf hall in BOZAR, the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. The exhibition is shown in the Foyers, also at BOZAR. More than 1.400 design professionals and design lovers attended the ceremony in 2016.
10 years after the previous, rather drastic changes in the Henry van de Velde Awards, they changed again. The Henry van de Velde Labels are cancelled and the Henry van de Velde Design Solution Awards were introduced. These awards are given in 8 categories, that represent the social, economical and aesthetic values of design and show these values to the public at large. The awards for Young Talent, Company, Public and Lifetime Achievement are grouped in the Henry van de Velde Special Design Awards.
The introduction of the categories clearly worked. The number of people participating in the online voting, attending the ceremony and visiting the exhition in BOZAR was huge.