Trophy Design: Sublime interplay of craft & emotion

Trophy Design: Sublime interplay of craft & emotive sensibilities

What is the reason to give trophies at events? Some learnings from our past and a few examples from our present.


“When I won in 2003, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would win Wimbledon and have my kids seeing me lift the trophy, so this is pretty surreal.” – Roger Federer

I am sure it was the level of the game, the competitive spirit, ability to win that mattered the most to the world numero-uno tennis champion; however, the trophy represented a chiseled memory of all that effort in an iconized form.

The word trophy is derived from the Greek word Trapaion, which represented spoils of the battle collected by the victorious. TheseTrapaions were proudly displayed at the battle field and even back home to celebrate & etch into memory, defining moments of a battle or an event. The trophies in this period were battle arms, body parts, amphoras, columns and in later years, Chalices. Hunting trophies were animal heads adorned on plaques and hung on walls.

The word trophy coined in English in 1550, was derived from the French trophée in 1513, "a prize of war", from Old French trophee, from Latin trophaeum, monument to victory and many were dedicated to Gods. Chalices were given away since 1600’s as trophies at sporting events.

The Loving Cup at Wimbledon is a cup shaped trophy, a human figurine iconizes the Oscar awards. The FIFA World Cup is another famous trophy, designed by Italian Artist, Silvio Gazzaniga, who described the trophy thus, "The lines spring out from the base, rising in spirals, stretching out to receive the world. From the remarkable dynamic tensions of the compact body of the sculpture rise the figures of two athletes at the stirring moment of victory."

A trophy today, represents a miniaturized sculpture, an exclusively crafted, unique embodiment of emotions, brand values all brought out through immaculate craft work, materials and finishes. A trophy design represents the dual nature of design wherein, design as a craft, and design for emotive response takes precedence. 

There are a few other themes under which trophies are designed for a variety of intentions;

Activity Icon

Overdrive Awards, celebrates excellence in the automotive world. The trophy iconized the gear-shift knob in an elegant poise. The shaft that bears the knob is more human in expression than mechanical. The trophy was originally conceived in brass but later versions have been created in aluminum investment casting, with shot blast finish. The crystal is polished, faceted glass.

Overdrive Awards

Overdrive Awards

Pursuit of Excellence

Nobel laureate and founder of the Grameen BankDr. Muhammad Yunus was conferred the “Person of the Year” award by Sakaal Group. The award trophy embodied the prestige through a lotus, representing quest for knowledge in mud and a crystalline bloom that reached out for the sky as a symbol of excellence. The trophy was handcrafted in copper sheet and the glass crystal is hand polished.

Theme Building

Brand values and themes need to be distilled to celebrate those who strive hard to achieve the values through their work. Many of these are professional achievements or corporate motivators.

The Suzlon One Earth award represents sustainability concerns. The award encompasses a fragile Earth represented by a transparent globe surrounding by a hand-crafted universe of all that we stand for in this world. The trophy is crafted in copper with engravings representing a humanized effort.

Mobility Vision is a program to design a transportation solution for emerging economies. The trophy highlights the logo of the completion, a visionary eye. The trophy is machined using aluminium block, shot blasted and anodized for the final finish & effect.

C Mission trophy

C Mission trophy

The “C-Mission” Compliance Award is an annual recognition of those who excel in legal compliances by Legasis. The trophy form is indicative of excellence and precision towards 100% compliance while 3-dimensionaly projecting the “C-Mission” brand logo.

Form factor and materials play a key role in evoking the right response from the beholder of the trophy. Design plays a key role in establishing keen understanding of theme, brand play, materials, finishes & production processes.

ASHISH DESHPANDE is an Industrial Designer, Co-founder & Director at Elephant. An alumnus of National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, he is a keen Design Thinker, a member of India Design Council & Jury for India Design Mark. He has worked on several design programs, notably, Titan Eye+, Ceat Tyres, Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, Symphony, Paperboat and works on medical & healthcare devices amongst others.

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