AIAP spearheads design award for women

09 May 2018

(All photo credits to Aiap)

 organised by ico-D Member Italian Association of Visual Communication Design (AIAP) is an international, biennial award dedicated to professional women designers, students, researchers and teachers working in the field of visual communication design.

Originally conceived of by designer Laura Moretti, and further developed in collaboration with designers Cinzia Ferrara and Daniela Piscitelli, the aim of the Women in Design Award (AWDA) is to understand and promote the little-known universe of women working in visual communication design and to investigate the languages, poetics and different approaches to graphic design which otherwise would not be brought to light.


Founders of the AIAP Women in Design Award (AWDA) designers Cinzia Ferrara, Laura Moretti, and Daniela Piscitelli (far right) at AWDA Milan 2015.

Developed through an period of dedicated research carried out by Aiap, the original aim of the award was to reconstruct and acknowledge the contribution by women designers from the field of visual communication design both historically and today. Inaugurated in 2012 in Italy, then opened to women from Europe and MENA Regions (Meddle east and North Africa) in 2015, by its third edition in 2017, the AWDA became international and participation was open to women designers from all over the world.


AWDA Milan 2015


ADI Design Index to Aiap Women in Design Award presented by former ico-D Vice President Yesim Demers in Milan 2015.

In light of the next iteration of AWDA forthcoming 2019, ico-D wishes to celebrate women designers celebrating the past, present and future of women designers by publishing a short text from 2015 provided by ico-D Vice President Daniela Piscatelli of Aiap contextualising AWDA as well as  images of all three ceremonies and resulting print publications.


Exhibition at Triennale Design Museum 2015


Exhibition at Triennale Design Museum 2015



2015 (Italy)

The project Aiap Women in Design Award moves along the research path that Aiap opened some time ago with the aim of identifying contributions, testimonies, styles and trends in communication design. The idea is to try and re-construct a history (or several histories) of graphic design, not necessarily through its leading figures or those who have been historicised already, but rather through the myriad of professionals who, each in their own peculiar way, contribute to the spreading of design culture meant as the ability to interpret settings, propose future scenarios, and exemplify the ability to manage systems and processes which is so important today.


1st Edition of AWDA in Treviso 2012

As early as 2010 Aiap launched Stanze (1), a contest open to Aiap’s women members, who were asked to interpret and re-contextualise Virginia Woolf’s intense novel title A room of one’s own. Participants were required to design a poster which could provide an updated interpretation of the concepts expressed in the book. The aim of the project was to explore the little-known universe of women designers, in an attempt to identify excellences, languages, approaches and styles which would otherwise remain unknown – a research path that had been opened by Manifestinno in 2007, when 30 Italian women designers were invited to design a poster, interpreting ten statements on innovation. Again in 2010 the retrospective exhibition “The unbroken sign. Graphics between arts, calligraphy and design”, dedicated to Aiap senior member Simonetta Ferrante, celebrated her prolific activity, first as a designer and then as an artist and calligrapher.

The Ferrante retrospective originated from the need for a line of research that could bring to light parallel histories within women’s design, an area little explored in Italy, at least in its historical context, and which, far from being a sort of “politically correct” reserve, wished instead to serve as a survey and a reflection on the state of the profession in this half of heaven.(2) 

This is the context that gave life to the AWDA award, whose results have been a ‘surprise’ because they represented a variety of approaches and styles, a wealth of languages and themes which amazed everyone –curators, jury members, the public and the authors themselves – not only because of the projects’ quality, but rather because they brought to light a diffuse, complex design voicing a number of different modes and connections.


Exhibition Triennale design Museum 2015 

A complex fabric, often anchored to the ‘small’ and ‘near’, but also woven through international relations and multidisciplinary approaches based on the (all too often underestimated) idea of an Italian context whose a-modernity becomes its main strength, the result is an approach that is humanistic before being technical, handicraft before being industrial. A biennial prize at its first edition, in 2015 AWDA will open up to all countries, though with a special interest in the winds coming from the East, from Asia, Africa, India, the Far East: a sidelong glance towards those modern countries where the histories of graphic design are yet to be investigated.


ADI Design Index to AWDA


(1) A top-quality scientific committee worked on the occasion,
including Aysegul Izer (Graphic designer, Head of the
Graphic Design Department, Mimar Sinan Fine Arts
University, Istanbul, Turkey), Lucille Tenazas (Graphic
designer, member of Alliance Graphique Internationale, AGI,
USA) and Simonetta Ferrante herself, Aiap’s senior

(2) See, in the small bibliography available on the topic,
Penny McCracken’s essay La (in)visibilità sociale di artiste
e designer [The social (in)visibility of women artists and
designers], in M. Antonietta Trasforini, (a cura di) Arte
a Parte. Donne artiste fra margini e centro, Franco Angeli
editore, Milano 2000.


AWDA, Aiap Women in Design Award is endorsed by:

Ministry of Economic Development
AGI Alliance Graphique Internationale
ADI Industrial Design Association
AIPI Italian Association of Interior Designers
AisDesign Italian Association of Design Historians
DcomeDesign Association, Consortium of Politecnico di Milano