Designs of the Year nominees announced

This year’s nominations for the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year show have been announced. As usual, they are an eclectic bunch

This year’s nominations for the Brit Insurance Designs of the Year show have been announced. As usual, they are an eclectic bunch (which include Björk’s Voltaic: Songs from the Volta Tour DVD by M/M Paris, an image from which is shown above)

And it is that eclecticism that, for me at least, makes the scheme worthwhile. I should declare that I am a nominator for the show: each year the Design Museum invites suggestions from a range of people for the show. You can noiminate in whatever category you please, for whatever reasons you please. The results are emphatically not a rival to established industry awards schemes (would there be any point in doing that?), nor are they necessarily the ‘best’ work of the year, but they are an intriguing snapshot of the scope of design.

The work shown doesn’t feature much from the more commercial, mainstream design industry. It’s not an accurate representation of the kind of work that the majority of graphic designers are engaged in every day – there is little packaging or commercial branding work for example. It’s perhaps a more aspirational view of what design could (should?) be doing rather than what it is mostly doing right now.

In the light of that, perhaps the name is a little misleading. It’s really a collection of highly personal views on what has been interesting or important in the design world over the past 12 months.

For example, I nominated the Indian Type Foundry (which we wrote about in the January issue) because I thought it represented an important step in the development of the Indian graphic design scene.

But then I also nominated Chris Ware’s New Yorker cover (above) because it is beautiful, evocative and utterly of the now.

My other nominations included TBWAHunt Lascaris’s campaign for The Zimbabwean newspaper in which posters were made up of real Zimbabwean dollars to highlight the currency’s fall in value

Farrow’s Yes album sleeve for the Pet Shop Boys – the limited edition Vinyl Factory version that we wrote about here (because I’d love to think that such projects could provide a future for great sleeve design)

The High Line park in New York (apparently loads of people nominated this) and Harry Pearce’s war memorial for the Science Museum (which we wrote about here)


Other nominations (by other people) include 032c Magazine


Gorilla, the daily op od illustration series in Dutch newspaper Der Volksrant by Herman van Bostelen, De Designpolitie and Lesley Moore


kennardphillipps’ Cafe of Equivalent$ which sought to highlight the relative price of food in producer countries compared to consumer countries. A lunch food stall was set up in the City of London asking diners how much they thought they should pay for their food. For example, soup and bread in Mozambique for a worker earning $2 a day costs 20 cents, which is 10% of their daily wage. If this was applied to the earnings of the average bonus-earning-banker,  soup and bread, they calculated, should cost £111.20. Which is what it was priced at on their stall.


Also nominated, the third volume of Fuel’s Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaedia

and the YCN Library


On the digital side, the BBC iPlayer is nominated, as is Panda Eyes, Jason Bruges Studio’s installation for the World Wildlife Fund whereby an army of 100 pandas assembled in Selfridges responded to the movements of passing shoppers


The EyeWriter, “a low-cost eye-tracking apparatus & custom software that allows graffiti writers and artists with paralysis resulting from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to draw using only their eyes”

The Eyewriter from Evan Roth on Vimeo.



Dilight‘s L-E-D-LED-L-ED,which uses bead-shaped LED lights strung along wires to create a beautiful display


And the Pachube system of monitoring and displaying “sensor, energy and environment data from objects, devices & buildings around the world” by Haque Design + Research

Plus, in the transport section we have the likes of Honda’s EV-N concept car by Kanna Sumiyoshi



A complete list of nominations, which includes products, architecture and fashion as well, is available here

  • Nice post…thanks! I’m enjoying the New Yorker cover…because like you said-IT IS REPRESENTING TODAY’S SOCIETY AND HOW “UNSOCIAL” WE HAVE BECOME-PERSONALLY. We now have an unlimited amount of ways of being social-technologically-but personally we are at the worst in our times.

    As for that YES album sleeves….so clean….it looks as if it is suppose to be the color pallete library to Pantone.

    Where may I see the rest of the entries…thanks again Patrick.

  • Some great contenders.
    I also like the New Yorker cover but think there are some stronger ones in the running for the award.
    Using money is always a tricky one, but using it to print on for The Zimbabwean newspaper to demonstrate the fall in the currency’s value was a powerful message and a seamless idea.
    The Eye Writer is also a big contender for me, again another great and simple idea to keep artists working even if their limbs do not.
    Lastly, the Harry Pearce’s war memorial for the Science Museum is simple and effective too.
    Good luck all involved.

  • Some good work, but nothing really shouts out ‘winner’. Tough call.

  • Joel K


    tis true, but I hate to think that we can’t encourage society to be more social in a less cynical way (it’s not THAT bad, i know….but still). Surely technologists can find a way to encourage more in-person social interaction using technology.

    I really love the Eyewriter—really inspiring.

  • erm hellooo… didn’t you forget someone?

  • ilovedogfood

    Yes, yes, we all love Mark Farrow… well especially you guys. However, the PSB’s cover just isn’t that good.

    What happened? Didn’t Tom Hingston blink this year?

  • Sameer J.P.

    I would agree that the Indian Type Foundry does have a role to play in the development of indian type and graphic design, but you should be careful with the hype you are buying and selling surrounding them. Their claims of “first Indian type foundry” and the like are utter rubbish and completely unfounded. They may be the fist “Wester styled” foundry making an image and web presence like Western companies, but there are and have been many other Indian foundries and type designers that have come before. This marketing text is feeding on the ignorance and gullibility of everyone outside of India. I would have expected more of a project by Peter Bilak, but in the end skewing the facts seems like it is working well for them.