Over millennia, the simple torch has morphed from mere functionality to pure form—it’s grown from a simple source of light to a symbol of enlightenment and hope, and a reminder of the renewing power of fire. And whether it’s from father to son or Olympic runner to Olympic runner, the concept of “passing the torch” has long stood for the rite of passage, the carrying on of information or talent or responsibility. It is the quintessential moment in an apprentice’s practice, the seminal moment when the master hands over the proverbial keys to the shop.

New York Festivals is committed to the development and promotion of the next generation of creative talent, and in this spirit created the Torch Awards. Each year, we’ll present a new competition for 18-27 years olds that explores a creative challenge with real-world potential. Five Finalist Teams will be called to New York City to present their work to a live panel of judges—but not before they get the opportunity to polish it during an intensive work session with a very exclusive mentor: a member of the New York Festivals World’s Best AdvertisingSM Executive Jury, some of the most awarded and accomplished chief creative officers on the planet.

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2016 Grand-Winning Team, Arigatos, with IMG model and fashion
blogger, Jillian Mercado
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2015 Grand-Winning Team, Ohayo, with Broadway's Triple Threat,
Charlotte d'Amboise
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2014 Grand-Winning Team, DDB Beijing, with Lava Records
recording artist, Jetta

About the Inclusive Design Challenge

Inclusive Design is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Inclusive Design is human-centered design of everything with everyone in mind.

Inclusive Design is also called Universal Design, Design-for-All and Lifespan Design. It is not a design style but an orientation to any design process that starts with a responsibility to the experience of the user. It has a parallel in the green design movement that also offers a framework for design problem-solving based on the core value of environmental responsibility. Inclusive Design and green design are comfortably two sides of the same coin but at different evolutionary stages. Green design focuses on environmental sustainability; Inclusive Design on social sustainability.

For the 2016 Torch Awards, New York Festivals partnered with the Institute for Human Centered Design, an international non-governmental educational organization (NGO) committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages and abilities through excellence in design. IHCD’s work balances expertise in legally required accessibility with promotion of best practices in human-centered or universal design.

“The Institute for Human Centered Design has chosen to use the term "human centered design" as the most representative of our philosophy. We are invested in the international universal design/design-for-all/inclusive design movement but we believe that it is important to be open to complementary ideas that make sense within the simple and open framework of human centered design. Important parallel trends today include green design and design for health and healing. We see value in finding the common ground between movements and in working collaboratively.

We embrace our ongoing relationship with our traditional allies in disability and aging. We try to be attentive to the spectrum of ability that poses less obvious demands upon design, especially chronic illness and the cognitive spectrum of disability. We believe that the link between chronic illness and/or disability and poverty must catalyze action that includes a new attention to the role of design. With our stated mission of enhancing human experience, we see everyone under the umbrella of human centered design.”