Designs of the Year 2014: the nominations

The Design Museum has announced the nominations for Designs of the Year 2014. The diverse line-up includes life-saving inventions, experimental architecture and some intriguing graphics and digital work…

The Design Museum has announced the nominations for Designs of the Year 2014. The diverse line-up includes life-saving inventions, experimental architecture and some intriguing graphics and digital work…

Seventy six projects have been shortlisted by industry figures and entries are divided into six categories: product, digital, fashion, architecture, graphics and transport. As always, this includes designs chosen for their beauty, orginality or unusual approach – entries include a floating school in a Nigerian lagoon, a watch that allows users to feel the time as well as read it and the ABC Syringe (below), which changes colour when exposed to air thus alerting users to its pre-use or potential exposure to infection.


In the digital category, the screen-based aspects of McCann Melbourne’s multi-award-winning Dumb Ways to Die rail safety campaign has been shortlisted alongside Bristol studio PAN’s Hello Lamp Post – a platform that allows residents to converse with street furniture using the text function on their mobile phones. (Read our blog post on the project here). Bare Conductive’s Touchboard project also offered an ingenious take on interactivity, turning almost any surface into an interface using electrodes.

As well as immersive gaming experiences such as the Oculus Rift headset, the digital category contains some potentially life-saving  inventions. The Aerosee (above) is a crowdsourced search and rescue drone that enables smartphone, desktop or tablet users to search mountains in the Lake District for people in danger, and the Portable Eye Examination Kit enables eye exams to be carried out in remote or low-income areas where traditional eye exams aren’t possible.

Nominations such as Vitamins’ Lego Calendar (above), the allowing studio to visualise how much time they spend on different projects using different coloured bricks (when you take a photo of it with a smartphone all of the events and timings are synchronised to an online calendar), and City Mapper (below) an app that helps users navigate large and complicated cities on foot and public transport, simply make life easier.


Nominees in the graphics category include Experimental Jetset’s ‘Responsive W’ identity for the Whitney Museum (above, which we covered back in July), Marina Willer and Brian Boylan’s identity for the Serpentine Galleries (below), and the M to M of M/M Paris: a 528-page book on graphic designers Michael Amzalag and Mathias Augustiniak, designed by Graphic Thought Facility (featured in CR Nov 12 issue, read our piece here).

Also featured is the Art Directors Club Annual 91 with illustrations poking gentle fun at the industry (see our post here).

Chris Ware’s amazing Building Stories graphic novel (see review by Jimmy Stamp here) in the form of a a boxed set, consisting of 14 distinct printed works-cloth-bound books, newspapers, broadsheets and flip books.

Stephen Jones’ issue of A Magazine Curated By, which was dedicated to Anna Piaggi and the art of illustration

Jean-Marie Courant, Marie Proyart, Olivier Vadrot’s identity system for the Frac Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

An identity for the Escuyer underwear brand by Modern Practice

Chineasy, a Chinese language learning system created by entrepreneur ShaoLan Hsueh and illustrated by Noma Bar:

James Bridles’ Drone Shadows, a series of installations depicting an outline of an unmanned military aerial vehicle promoting Jeremy Scahill’s investigative documentary Dirty Wars:

Grand-Central by Thibault Brevet, an open internet platform that lets people express themselves freely through a tangible output device (see top an above). Users can submit text via their smartphones which is then ‘written’ in marker pen by a mechanical printer – creating a physical embodiment of a digital message.

Arts and culture journal, The Gourmand, Created by David Lane (Creative Director), Marina Tweed & David Lane (Founders/Editors-in-chief)

And Anthony Sheret, Edd Harrington and Rupert Dunk’s Castledown Primary School Type Family – a typeface commissioned for a primary school in Sussex that evolved into a project aiming to create a unified, dyslexic friendly type system in UK primary schools.

Because of the way it is put together (submissions from ‘industry experts’ which are then reviewed by a Design Museum-appointed panel rather than a paid-for entry system), Designs of the Year always throws up a quirkier selection than industry awards such as D&AD. That is both a strength and a weakness in that some nominations can appear a little random but there are always delightful surprises and some welcome attention for designers who may not figure in other schemes.

Makoko Floating School in Nigeria, A prototype floating structure, built for an historic water community. Designed by NLÉ, Makoko Community Building Team

Shortlisted entries will be on display at the Design Museum from March 26 to August 25 and you can view the full list of nominations here.

A visitor’s vote will be open to the public. The museum is introducing a social vote this year, too, allowing Twitter and Facebook users to choose their favourite of two exhibits from the show each day. Design of the Year is supported by Bird & Bird

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