Oh, what a night! | Wrapping up the Design Awards | ICONIC LIFE

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Oh, what a night! | Wrapping up the Design Awards

2023 Design Awards group photo

Chris Loomis

Publisher Renee Dee reflects on her inaugural ICONIC Design Awards and celebrates the design community.

Thank you to everyone who supported the inaugural ICONIC Design Awards 2023 presented by Monogram Luxury Appliances by entering our competition, by sponsoring our awards and by attending our ticketed event. 

It was indeed a grand night and the culmination of a year-long journey to create an event that our design community deserves. Not only was it a spectacular night, it was an awards competition with integrity. I am over-the-moon excited about how it all went! A big thank you to all of you and to our courageous presenters who said yes to giving awards on stage in a new venue, in a new way. You all crushed it! Congratulations to all the well deserving, top Arizona designers, who earned an award at this special event. 

We were honored to have a celebrity mistress of ceremonies on stage, who elegantly took our event to the next level. A big thank you to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts technicians, directors and event staff for working with us to produce a show that I am really proud of!

I’m so grateful for my team, who impressed me beyond words. Each and every one of them stepped up in a big way to make sure no detail was missed and that we delivered a near-flawless experience. The weeks leading up to an event of this magnitude can be like a pressure cooker, and my cheerful, always-enthusiastic, can-do team was an example of grace under fire. 

For years, awards programs have left me wanting more: more glamour, more excitement, more celebration. And I’ve felt there is room for improvement. Awards shouldn’t be given out in a preferential, biased way, by people who know less about design than the potential recipients of the awards. 

Speaking of other competitions, I find it interesting for editors, realtors and event sponsors to be judges…but I don’t find it one bit credible. A real design competition is judged blind by members of the design community, by judges with impressive backgrounds, worthy of judging the incredible talent put in front of them. 

Our awards competition was NOT a “gimme.” It was a tough competition. Being friends or clients of Renee didn’t earn you points (though I love you all, I wasn’t a judge), and I don’t think you want it that way either. 

The greatest compliment is to be fairly judged by a jury of peers in a challenging competition that means something when you get an award. We had almost 200 entries in our competition, that means that every level of award has great meaning…to be in the top three Arizona designers of each category is an impressive feat with that field of entrants. 

I had two themes I wanted to express on Saturday night. First, we are a fantastically collaborative design community, and that’s unique to our market. My personal goal is to continue to connect us all in a way we’ve never been connected and elevate our community by putting people together, promoting great work and encouraging us all to be our very best. 

Next, I wanted to make a point that awards should mean something. Pay-for-play awards are embarrassing; long, boring, disorganized award ceremonies don’t honor the award winners; and I won’t be a part of that. I decided a year ago that I was done watching design awards from the sidelines…produced with low standards. If these words feel strong, know my passion for honoring all of you is stronger. 

I had a blast celebrating with you and the design community on Saturday night, and this is only the beginning. We’ll launch ICONIC Design Awards 2024 next February when we open the entry portal. Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 28, 2024 when we will celebrate together once again and see what a difference a year makes. 

From the bottom of my heart, I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you and call you my friends. I couldn’t be more excited to be right here, right now.

Thank you!

With Gratitude,

Renee M. Dee

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