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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