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A Transformed Award that Celebrates a Decade of Innovation

In case you haven’t heard, Altair will announce the winners of the tenth anniversary of the Altair Enlighten Award on August 2. The Enlighten Award honors the greatest sustainability and lightweighting advancements that successfully reduce carbon footprint, mitigate water and energy consumption, and leverage material reuse and recycling efforts. An award that garners interest from industry, engineering, policymakers, educators, students, and the public alike, the Enlighten Award showcases the latest and greatest technology innovations dedicated to sustainability.

To commemorate the award’s decade milestone, our design team wanted to produce a new physical award given to each Enlighten Award winner. This year, our team set out to redesign the award to embody the values of both the Enlighten Award and Altair – sustainability, innovation, and of course, lightweighting. 

Establishing a Vision

While the new trophy makes its debut at the award ceremony on August 2, conceptualization around a new design has been underway for some time now. At the outset, we set out to find inspiration in the world that would inform the new design – that included poring over historical art and sculpture design as well as contemporary architecture and art. 

Historically, the Enlighten Award has used the symbol of a butterfly because of its connotations as an incredibly light, yet sturdy creature and a prime example of beautiful design found in nature. In art and poetry alike, many artists make references to butterflies’ wings as delicate, light-as-air objects that nonetheless propel the nimble creatures through the air with ease and visual aplomb. As such, our team wanted to stick with the idea of a butterfly in the new designs. 

But we also wanted to draw from historical art, especially that which symbolizes triumph, accomplishment, and victory. For this, the team drew inspiration from “The Winged Victory of Samothrace,” which depicts Niké, the Greek goddess of victory, and dates to the 2nd century BCE. This sculpture’s winged, V-shaped motif has been used in countless works of art throughout history, and can be seen still in modern art, design, and architecture. Perhaps this motif’s most prominent contemporary use is in car hood ornaments, like those that adorn the hoods of Rolls Royce or Bentley models. 

From left to right: "The Winged Victory of Samothrace," Rolls Royce hood ornament, Bentley hood ornament

Creating a Concept

Now that our team had inspiration, we began conceptualizing it. In addition to the symbolism and historical motifs we wanted to draw from, we also wanted to embody the values of the award itself – mainly sustainability and lightness. As such, the team set out to use only natural, recyclable materials, and to make the award light to the touch (without being too light as to seem fragile or unstable). Additionally, we wanted to incorporate the shape of the Altair logo in the base and wanted the wings to mimic the shape of a parabolic curve.  Overall, the goal was to create an abstract vision of a butterfly resting on a branch with outstretched wings. 

You can see a few images of early concepts below: 

Early concepts of the redesigned Enlighten Award

Bringing Concepts to Life

The final step in the process was to make the final tweaks and adjustments to the prototype so they could deliver the finished product and make it a reality. These final tweaks included making sure the engraving was legible, ensuring the object’s frame didn’t distract from the engraving, and smoothing out the trophy’s sharp areas.

After it was all said and done, we had the final product – one that incorporated historic and artistic inspiration, that continued the lineage of the Enlighten Award’s previous motifs, and that embodied the values of the Enlighten Award’s objectives. We are incredibly proud of this work of art and can’t wait for this year’s winners to hold and display the new trophies. 

The new Altair Enlighten Award 10th anniversary trophy
The old award

Unlike the heavy, blocky old award, the new award is light, elegant, and steeped in artistic tradition. We’re thrilled to be celebrating a decade of the automotive industry’s premier award dedicated to lightweighting and sustainability, and we hope this award encourages manufacturers and designers to continue innovating to create a greener, more efficient, and more sustainable future.

Click here to learn more about the 10th annual Altair Enlighten Award.