In 2002, the Swiss Design Awards were relaunched in a new format, in a bid to reinvigorate the competition and to adapt the promotion of design to the evolving needs of the profession. One of the key themes of the new format was the vision of the Swiss Federal Office of Culture that it could be a node in the network of Swiss design. After tracing the evolution of the Office’s approach to sponsorship in the years leading up to the relaunch, this article analyses the impact of the awards on the networks and on the practice of three winners of the 2002 edition.