Design contests are a standard way of generating architectural ideas—for big buildings, at least. When it comes to homes, most people make do with a contractor. CoContest, a new site from Italy, wants to change that. It lets anyone take on the role of Pritzker Prize judge, and offer winnings to the designs they like best.
Created by Federico Schiano di Pepe, the site has been up since last September, and has attracted more than 8,000 designers and hosted more than 40 contests so far. You can see some of the results in the slide show above.
Schiano di Pepe sees the idea as evening up a global design imbalance. Italy has as many designers as the U.S., but far fewer clients, especially since the recession. CoContest aims to give the struggling—but talented—a platform. "There are a huge number of very skilled designers. But, because of the market situation, most of them can’t work. This is a way to supply quality design abroad, especially where designers are very expensive, and they don’t always match your needs," he says.
To set up a contest, you create a full brief about the project, including a description of the space, floor-plan, and photos. You then set an award: the current range is between between $128 (100 euros) and $644 (500 euros). CoContest takes 5%; the rest goes to the winner. Schiano di Pepe says contest-setters receive an average of 15 replies per brief, including drawings and renderings of what the room will look like.
He hopes the site will help democratize architecture, and convince people that design is worth the expense. In September, CoContest is planning to move to New York to take on the U.S. market. And, it’s offering a widget version, so magazines and others can organize their own contests.