Now in its eighth edition, the Designs of the Year awards and exhibition provide a snapshot of the most stimulating new work from around the world, across six categories: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Graphics, Product and Transport. Past winners of the Design of the Year include the One Laptop Per Child project, the 2012 Olympic Torch and the UK government’s website GOV.UK.
Each year an international team of critics, curators and practitioners are invited to select the year’s most inspiring and innovative designs. This year, 76 projects have been chosen. They include work from emerging practices and also well-established ones. Some question preconceptions about the role of design, others offer pragmatic solutions to consumer needs. In their range they express a diversity of intent and reveal the vital role of design as a problem-solver, a predictor of future developments and a cultural force.
This year a set of criteria was issued to the nominators to outline the Design Museum’s definition of a Design of the Year as...Design that promotes or delivers change; Design that enables access; Design that captures the spirit of the year and Design that extends design practice. This clarity has in no way reduced the comprehensive selection of design and the exhibition is as ever full of the diverse, the unexpected and the uplifting.
Among this disparate gathering there are themes and trends that emerge two of which are the growth of crowd-funding to support designers to by-pass the manufacturer by funding production costs with the aid of websites such as Kickstarter and the development of sustainable design to the point that the environment has become a core element of mainstream design briefs.
The exhibition opened to the public in late March 2015 and shortly after the opening this year’s judges the artist Anish Kapoor, the fashion writer Hilary Alexander, the Director of Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne Alexis Georgacopoulos, the Architect Farshid Moussavi, and Studio Director of Land Rover Richard Wooley spent a day of good humour and strong debate to make the difficult decisions to choose a winner of each category and an overall winner. The judges were united in their responsibility to award projects that emphasise design’s impact on our lives now and in the future. Design that solves diverse problems with innovation, intelligence and wit, from an advertising campaign to promote the reduction of food waste: Inglorious fruits and vegetables, designed by Marcel for Intermarché; an environmentally conscious University and business centre, UC Innovation Center - Anacleto Angelini, designed by Elemental; a medical chip to revolutionise drug testing, Human Organson- Chips, designed by Donald Ingber and Dan Dongeun Huh; a driverless car, Google Self-driving car designed by YooJung Ahn, Jared Gross and Philipp Habana; a crowd-funded initiative to rid the sea of plastic waste, The Ocean Cleanup designed by Boyan Slat, Jan de Sonneville and Erwin Zwart and a complex fusion of skilfully cut garments, Thomas Tait AW13/14 collection, designed by Thomas Tait.
One of these will be chosen as the Design of the Year 2015, this overall winner will be announce in late June but you will be able to visit the exhibition at the Design Museum until March 2016.
This article is part of DesignWrites for July 2015