Design Museum Designs of the Year show opens

The London Design Museum’s Designs of the Year show opens today with its usual eclectic mix of the useful, the beautiful, the obscure and the obvious

The London Design Museum’s Designs of the Year show opens today with its usual eclectic mix of the useful, the beautiful, the obscure and the obvious

The process of selecting work for the Design Museum’s Designs of the Year show, whereby industry figures are asked for nominations from which a final selection of work to go on show is made, guarantees that its content is far more diverse than that of pay-to-entry awards shows.

Thus, this year, we have major commercial products such as the Kinect for Xbox 360 displayed alongside experimental furniture, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner next to Andrew Slorance’s Carbon Black Wheelchair.

The graphics category shares some of this eclecticism, with Bloomberg Businessweek sharing a publications table with John Morgan Studio’s AA Files, the journal for the Architectural Association School of Architecture.


And Dalton Maag’s Nokia Pure Type project sitting across the way from De Designpolitie’s What Design Can Do! conference identity

Also featured in the graphics section (full list here) are Paul Sahre’s life-size paper monster truck hearse kit and video for They Might Be Giants (which we wrote about here)

SEA’s sample books for paper company GF Smith


Anomaly and Unit9’s One Thousand Cranes for Japan project in support of those affected by the Tsunami


House Industries’ Photo-Lettering

Noma Bar’s Cut It Out installation

And Your Browser Sent A Request That This Server Could Not Understand, an illustrated depiction of the internet by Koen Taselaar

Plus, Gordon Young and Why Not Associates’ Comedy Carpet installation, which is represented by a section of one of the concrete slabs used plus screenprinted section of the layout

There is also a very strong digital section whih includes iPad apps for The Guardian and Letter to Jane magazine, the BBC homepage, UVA’s High Arctic installation, Dentsu’s Suwappu project, Musicity by Nick Luscombe, Simon Jordan and Jump Studios and the Homeplus Tesco Virtual Store from Korea.

I enjoy the variety of this show and the way that it embraces the extremes of the design industry’s output, from worthy projects such as Autolib, the Parisian electric car scheme

to Kate Middleton’s wedding dress and Vivienne Westwood’s Ethical Fashion Africa Collection, a project producing handbags in Kenya and Uganda

But, talking to graphic designers at the show’s opening party, it was clear that most felt unease at the way in which their area of practice compared to the scale and importance of other projects on show. How, for example, can you get too excited by a music video when across the way is Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon, an amazing concept for a wind-powered land mine clearing device

Or the Re-design for an Emergency Ambulance from the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Vehicle Design Department at the RCA

Never mind some of the architecture nominees, which include a hospital in Rwanda and a market in Haiti.

But it’s all design. The purpose of the show is in part to remind us of the enormous scope of design and the many ways in can touch our lives, from the life-saving to the life-enhancing. It does that admirably.

Designs of the Year is at the Design Museum, London SE1 until July 15



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  • Mark

    I haven’t seen the exhibition yet but from those images I have to say i’m a bit disappointed by the Graphic Design selectoin.
    It’s all a bit twee – compared to the projects in other fields, graphic design has been undersold in my opinion.

  • Completely agree with Mark, I was at the Private View last night and I came away feeling a bit let down with the Graphic Design chosen. There were some nice publications: Bloomberg Business Week and the AA Files and some interesting iPad apps: Guardian and Letters for Jane but unfortunately these were the exceptions.

    Some amazing work overall though.

  • A bag from Viv Westwood with ‘I (heart) CRAP’ written on it in sparkly shite has to sum it all up for me.

    I’ve noticed a tendency for the really good conscientious designers and creatives to shy away from awards and publicity.

    ‘The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.’
    William Shakespeare

    Nuff said.

  • Thanks for the extra spacing CR. Is someone getting creative with comments?

  • Was going to see this but from the comments it sounds like it’s disappointing, especially since I am mainly interested in the graphic design areas.

  • Alex

    Curator — you say the really good conscientious designers and creatives shy away from awards and publicity. You do realise that no designer actually enters these particular awards? Unlike D&AD, CR etc It is based on industry nomination.

  • Alex – To be precise I wrote ‘I’ve noticed a tendency for the really good conscientious designers and creatives to shy away from awards and publicity.’ I used the words TENDENCY as a trend which would require more than one instance; and AWARDS which is a plural, therefore not specific to that one.

    You do realise that the complicity of the designer is necessary at that particular award?

    It’s a shame that each year ‘the industry’ nominates so few women designers!

    And yes, there are a lot of really very good conscientious designers and creatives who shy away from this kind of ‘feeding frenzy’ awards nonsense.

  • We were lucky enough (enuff?) to be nominated (so I would say this wouldn’t I) but I think it is a cracking exhibition. It is naturally eclectic and of course you won’t like everything you see, but the work you do like will make you feel good and hopefully inspire you. Go see it and tell me I’m right.

  • In my opinion, the Design Museum is a fantastic facility for great design to inspire those in the industry and those who aren’t.

    A superb location and looking forward to our next visit!

  • I was nominated with my design Carbon Black wheelchair. I think the Design Museum is fantastic, it gives me just what I was looking for. A platform to show that design is not just pretty pics and handbags. Carbon Black aims to change perceptions of the wheelchair as we know it. By having the chair in such a high profile, mainstream design exhibition I am a step closer to that end goal. Go and see this exhibition.

  • Josh

    Let’s face it, graphic design just isn’t as important as some other design disciplines. And as a graphic designer, I’m fine with that.

    I’m happy that product design and architecture are above us in terms of use and skill needed to carry them out. The Bauhaus had it’s own hierarchy for the design disciplines with architecture at the top, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

    If anything, us designers are to be inspired by some of the great, and worthwhile work (such as Andrew’s wheelchair). Perhaps it’s worth bearing in mind the next time we’re designing another brochure or poster.

    Don’t get me wrong, graphic design in the right context can change things, save lives etc. But as this year’s show highlights. We must try harder

  • Ed Wright

    +1 Josh