天麟海外艺术创意启发中心 | 2012-02-29

What are the best Designs of the Year?







The Design Museum's new exhibition shows us the last year in 89 objects – and reveals many of our current preoccupations, from virtual grocery shopping to printers that produce glass



When the BBC aired a radio programme last year called A History of the World in 100 Objects, it was a deserved hit. Such anthropological lists are useful story-telling devices. A similar, though more modest, project is underway at the Design Museum's Designs of the Year exhibition, which opens today. Looking through the other end of the telescope, we see the last year in 89 objects; everything from opera houses to typefaces. So what does this panoply of global design tell us about designers' current preoccupations?



Frankly, from these objects you could weave almost any narrative you like. There is media-friendly populism in the shape of the Olympic torch and lacework from Kate Middleton's wedding dress; there are consumer products (but only a few); and there is furniture of the finest craftsmanship. But what stands out is a spirit of innovation – and a growing concern with social issues.



Genuine innovation, of course, is less about inventing new objects than new processes. And so it is with Markus Kayser's Solar Sinter, a 3D printer that prints glass objects. Designed for use in desert environments, the machine draws on their two inexhaustible resources: sun and sand. A lens concentrates sunlight into a laser-strength beam that morphs sand into molten glass. The resulting objects are roughly finished but impressive given what is effectively a homemade machine. Either it's manufacturing Mad Max-style, with the attendant apocalyptic edge, or it's a more optimistic glimpse of sustainable production for the future – you choose.

Silo's Not So Expanded Polystyrene (NSEPSP) table



Experimentation with unorthodox materials runs right through the exhibition. To most people, polystyrene is the white packaging they chuck away after pulling their new computer out of the box. But one young design studio, Silo, has been turning it into furniture. They found that before it's expanded into the weightless white stuff we know so well, it's sturdy enough to make tables and chairs. Similarly, Werner Aisslinger has used moulded hemp to produce a stackable cantilevered chair, ordinarily only made out of plastic. Whether or not these experiments become commercial successes, they are reminders that products will not always look, feel or behave the way they do today.



The same goes for systems that we take for granted. If the journey home from work involves a detour for some grocery shopping, it may not for much longer. Last year, Homeplus, the South Korean arm of Tesco, opened a virtual store in a Seoul underground station. It looks much like the real thing, except the supermarket shelves are an interactive touchscreen, allowing you to choose what you want and have it delivered to your home the same day – it's a vending machine for the internet age. With Tesco's current ubiquity in the UK, it may only be a matter of time before this hits the Tube.

A vending machine for the internet age ... Home plus's virtual store in Seoul



Some systems, however, lag way behind the products they support. Every year, there's a brace of electric cars in this show, but until someone designs a network of rapid refuelling stations they'll remain the next big thing in transport. Ambulances, on the other hand, never get redesigned – they haven't changed for decades, and are still primarily made to deliver patients to hospitals. Yet the prototype exhibited here, designed by a team at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, allows medics to treat patients in situ. It has a more spacious interior, with a central gurney for 360 degree access (instead of crammed against the side of the vehicle) and easy to clean surfaces that prevent cross-infection. The designers estimate that it could reduce hospital admissions by 60 per cent, saving tens of millions of pounds per year. Now it just needs the NHS to invest.



Not everything is marching forward. Graphic design is in a phase of deep conservatism, fighting a rear-guard action against the digital onslaught. But this retreat into traditional values is producing some beautiful work, such as John Morgan's dignified design for the architecture journal AA Files, and reminding us what we always loved about print.

Guangzhou Opera House by Zaha Hadid Architects. Photograph: Iwan Baan



The Design Museum, fresh from unveiling its forthcoming home at the Commonwealth Institute, can dine out on the fact there is no other design exhibition quite like Designs of the Year. For one thing, it's admirably democratic – where else could you see the Guangzhou Opera House, designed by Zaha Hadid, running against a wooden folly under a flyover in Hackney? But then, to see this as an award scheme is to miss the point. It's true that a jury will have the unenviable task of picking a winner from these 89 contenders. But the real attraction of the exhibition is that it offers an annual snapshot of how the world is changing – how, through the design equivalent of natural selection, today is becoming tomorrow.


You can see the full list of nominations here. Which ones get your vote?


This year's nominations are below, visit the exhibtion blog at designsoftheyear.com



Butaro Hospital, Butaro, Rwanda
MASS Design Group

Folly for a Flyover, London, UK
Assemble, supported by The Bank of America Merrill Lynch CREATE Art Award

Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, China
Zaha Hadid Architects

Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, UK
David Chipperfield Architects

Care Home, Huise-Zingem, Belgium
Sergison Bates Architects LLP

Maggies Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow, UK

National Park of Mali Buildings, Bamako, Mali
Diébédo Francis Kéré of Kéré Architecture

Moses Bridge, Fort de Roovere, Netherlands
RO&AD Architects

London 2012 Velodrome, London, UK
Hopkins Architects

Spaceport America, New Mexico
Foster + Partners

The Iron Market, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
John McAslan + Partners

Youth Factory, Mérida, Spain
Selgascano, Gestaltskate and Jarex


BC Homepage Version 4, London, UK

Beck’s - The Green Box Project
Designed for Anheuser-Busch InBev by Mother London, Jason Bruges Studios and Motim Technologies

Face Substitution, New York, USA
Arturo Castro and Kyle McDonald

Guardian iPad edition, London, UK
Guardian News and Media in consultation with Mark Porter

High Arctic, National Maritime Museum, London, UK
United Visual Artists

Homeplus Tesco Virtual Store, Seoul, South Korea
Homeplus Tesco

Letter to Jane, Portland, USA
Tim Moore

Microsoft Kinect and Kinect SDK
Microsoft Games Studios, Microsoft Research and Xbox, UK and USA

Musicity, London, UK
Concept by Nick Luscombe and Simon Jordan and designed by Jump Studios

The Stanley Parable, California, USA
Written and created by Davey Wreden

Suwappu, London, UK
Dentsu London, UK, in consultation with BERG


Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA
Andrew Bolton with the support of Harold Koda of The Costume Institute, New York, USA

The Duchess of Cambridge’s Wedding Dress, London, UK
Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

Film for Gareth Pugh, London, UK
Directed by Ruth Hogben

Céline Autumn/Winter ’11, Paris, France
Phoebe Philo at Céline

Late Night Chameleon Café, London, UK
Store design: Gary Card, Creative director: John Skelton, Brand director: Dan Mitchell

Mary Katrantzou Autumn/Winter ‘11, London, UK
Mary Katrantzou

Melissa + Gaetano Pesce Boot and Flip Flop, New York, USA
Gaetano Pesce, Manufactured by Melissa, Brazil

Oratory Jacket, London, UK
Will Carleysmith, Brompton Bicycle Ltd

Suno Spring/Summer ‘11, New York, USA

Vivienne Westwood Ethical Fashion Africa Collection, Autumn/Winter ’11
Vivienne Westwood, London, UK

Miyake Design Studio, Tokyo, Japan


Balsa Furniture, London, UK
Kihyun Kim

Chassis, Munich, Germany
Stefan Diez

The Crates, Beijing, China
Naihan Li & Co

Earthquake Proof Table, Jerusalem, Israel
Arthur Brutter and Ido Bruno

Harbour Chair, London, UK
André Klauser and Ed Carpenter at Very Good & Proper, London, UK

Hemp Chair, Berlin, Germany
Werner Aisslinger

Lightwood, London, UK
Jasper Morrison

Moon Rock Tables, London, UK
Bethan Laura Wood

Not So Expanded Polystyrene (NSEPS), London, UK
Attua Aparicio & Oscar Wanless at SILO

Oak Inside, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Christien Meindertsma

Osso, Paris, France
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Textile Field at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Paris, France, in collaboration with Kvadrat, Denmark

Tip Ton, London, UK
Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby

Waver, Munich, Germany
Konstantin Grcic

XXXX_Sofa, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Yuya Ushida


AA Files, London, UK
John Morgan Studio

Beauty is in the Street, London, UK
Four Corners Books, Cover designed by John Morgan
Book interior designed by Pierre Le Hors

Bloomberg Businessweek, New York, USA
Bloomberg Businessweek

The Comedy Carpet, Blackpool, UK
Gordon Young and Why Not Associates

Cover artwork and video for Join Us by They Might Be Giants, New York, USA
Paul Sahre

Cut it Out, London, UK
Noma Bar

Matthew Hilton identity and website, London, UK

Nokia Pure Font, London, UK
Dalton Maag

One Thousand Cranes for Japan
Concept by Anomaly and Unit 9, London, UK

Photo-Lettering, Yorklyn, USA
House Industries

GF Smith Digital Campaign, London, UK
SEA Design

Stockmann packaging, Helskinki, Finland
Kokoro & Moi

Self Service Magazine
Petronio Associates

What Design Can Do!, Amsterdam, Netherlands
De Designpolitie

Your Browser Sent A Request That This Server Could Not Understand,
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Koen Taselaar


Ascent, Haunch of Venison, London, UK
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

pq Eyewear designed by Ron Arad A-frame line and Corbs line
Ron Arad

Botanica, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Studio Formafantasma

Carbon Black Wheelchair, I Imagine, UK
Andrew Slorance

Defibtech Lifeline VIEW™ Automated External Defibrillator (AED), LLC Guilford, USA

Heracleum, Schiedam, Netherland
Bertjan Pot powered Through Electrosandwich® By Marcel Wanders for Moooi

Hövding Invisible Cycle Helmet

Jawbone JAMBOX, San Francisco, USA
Yves Béhar, Fuseproject

The Learning Thermostat, USA
Nest, Palo Alto

Mine Kafon, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Massoud Hassani

The London 2012 Olympic Torch, UK
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, commissioned by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games

Black and Decker

Shade, London, UK
Simon Heijdens

Solar Sinter, London, UK
Markus Kayser Studio

Thixotrope, London, UK
Conny Freyer, Sebastien Noel and Eva Rucki of Troika

TMA-1 Headphones

Totem, London, UK
Bethan Laura Wood in collaboration with Pietro Viero

White Collection, Finland
Ville Kokkonen


787 Dreamliner

Autolib’ Paris, France
Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, France

Bike Hanger - Bicycle Storage, New York, USA
Manifesto Architecture

Mia Electric Car
Mia Electric

Re-design for Emergency Ambulance, London, UK
Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Vehicle Design Department,Royal College of Art

T27 Electric Car, Surrey, UK
Gordon Murray Design

Taurus Electro G4
Pipistrel doo Ajdovscina