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”
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