The Design Museum’s Designs of the Year 2012

The Design Museum has announced its longlist for the Designs of the Year 2012 exhibition and, as with previous years, the difficult task of showcasing a whole year in design reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of such a process

Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon is a wind-powered device for clearing land mines

The Design Museum has announced its longlist for the Designs of the Year 2012 exhibition and, as with previous years, the difficult task of showcasing a whole year in design reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of such a process…

The Comedy Carpet in Blackpool by artist Gordon Young and Why Not Associates

This year’s selection of work from architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphics, product and transport naturally includes a host of varied projects – from Barber Osgerby’s Olympic Torch and David Chipperfield’s Hepworth Wakefield museum, to the BBC’s homepage and the Comedy Carpet (above) by artist Gordon Young and Why Not Associates.

Perhaps the most bizarre design is Massoud Hassani’s Mine Kafon, a wind-powered land mine clearing device, constructed from a ball of sprung bamboo sticks which are attached to a plastic core. As the ball is deployed over terrain where landmines are known to have been hidden, it explodes any in its path and tracks its route via GPS.

United Visual Artists’ High Arctic installation at the National Maritime Museum in London

Designer Yves Béhar has work nominated for a fourth time (he won the inaugural competition in 2008 with the One Laptop Per Child initiative) and there are three electric cars, a defibrillator, an exhibition by the illustrator Noma Bar, plus copies of Bloomberg Businessweek, a promo sample of GF Smith papers and the album cover art for Join Us by They Might Be Giants among the selected work. (The full list of all the nominated projects is copied below.)

Anomaly and Unit 9’s One Thousand Cranes for Japan project

As Eliza pointed out in her look at last year’s show, exhibits from the furniture and transport sections usually come across particularly well, simply by virtue of how much space they command compared to, say, paperback books or websites.

Textile Field at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, fabric by Kvadrat. Photo © Studio Bouroullec & V&A Images, Victoria and Albert Museum

And in that lies the ongoing problem with the competitive aspect of the show: just how do you compare a dress with a car, or a website with a house? And is there any point? Individual categories produce their own ‘winners’, where like is compared with relative like, but the final showdown between disciplines still seems a little confusing.

Homeplus: Tesco Virtual Store, Seoul, South Korea

But as we’ve seen since 2008, the overall winners do tend to emerge from the social/useful camp, with the aforementioned One Laptop Per Child project, Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster, and Min-Kyu Choi’s Folding Plug all taking the top prize (OK, so last year’s Plumen lightbulb is a beautiful exception to the rule).

Life-Size Paper Monster Hearse by Paul Sahre, from the video for Join Us by They Might Be Giants

But regardless of the judged aspect to the show, which, after all, does stoke reinterest in the show itself, the Designs of the Year is a welcome attempt to capture the best of the year’s design work in one place. Exhibits are nominated for inclusion, thus there is a wealth of professional expertise on hand to highlight some of the most interesting projects within a specific field, and, on past visits, the displays within the Museum are also given a lot of thought.

The T.27 Electric Car by Gordon Murray Design

Last year’s exhibition, for example, imposed the themes of Home, Share, Play, City and Learn over all the work so that the projects were completely mixed up. For me, that’s a much more satisfying way of experiencing everything that the show’s notoriously wide remit brings in. For designers and non-designers surely that best shows how design is a fundamental part of the real world.

Designs of the Year opens at the Design Museum in London on February 8 and runs until July 15. More details at the DM site, here, and also at the dedicated blog,

Here are the nominations:



Butaro Hospital, Butaro, Rwanda
MASS Design Group

Folly for a Flyover, London, UK
Assemble CIC

Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, China
Zaha Hadid Architects

Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, UK
David Chipperfield Architects

Home for Senior Citizens, Huise-Zingem, Belgium
Sergison Bates Architects LLP

Maggies Centre, Gartnavel, Glasgow, UK

National Park of Mali Buildings, Bamako, Mali
Diébédo Francis Kéré of Kéré Architecture

Moses Bridge, Fort de Roovere, Netherlands
RO&AD Architects

Olympic 2012 Velodrome, London, UK
Hopkins Architects

Spaceport America, New Mexico
Foster + Partners

The Iron Market, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
John McAslan + Partners

Youth Factory, Mérida, Spain
Selgascano, Gestaltskate and Jarex

2012 Olympic Velodrome
Hopkins Architects

Guangzhou Opera House, China
Zaha Hadid Architects



BBC Homepage Version 4, London, UK

Beck’s Green Box project

Face Substitution, New York, USA
Arturo Castro and Kyle McDonald

Guardian iPad edition, London, UK
Guardian News and Media in consultation with Mark Porter

High Arctic, National Maritime Museum, London, UK
United Visual Artists

Homeplus Tesco Virtual Store, Seoul, South Korea
Homeplus Tesco

Letter to Jane, Portland, USA
Tim Moore

Microsoft Kinect and Kinect SDK
Microsoft Games Studios, Microsoft Research and Xbox, UK and USA

Musicity, London, UK
Concept by Nick Luscombe and Simon Jordan and designed by Jump Studios

The Stanley Parable, California, USA
Written and created by Davey Wreden

Suwappu, London, UK
Dentsu London, UK, in consultation with BERG

Homeplus Tesco Virtual Store, Seomyeon Subway Station,
South Korea



Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA
Andrew Bolton with the support of Harold Koda of The Costume Institute, New York, USA

The Duchess of Cambridge’s Wedding Dress, London, UK
Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

Céline Autumn/Winter ’11, Paris, France
Phoebe Philo at Céline

Late Night Chameleon Café, London, UK
Store design: Gary Card, Creative director: John Skelton, Brand director: Dan Mitchell

Mary Katrantzou Autumn/Winter ‘11, London, UK
Mary Katrantzou

Melissa + Gaetano Pesce Boot and Flip Flip, New York, USA
Gaetano Pesce, Manufactured by Melissa, Brazil
Oratory Jacket, London, UK

Will Carleysmith, Head of Design at Brompton Bicycle Ltd
Suno Spring/Summer ‘11, New York, USA

Vivienne Westwood Ethical Fashion Africa Collection, Autumn/Winter ’11
Vivienne Westwood, London, UK

132.5, Tokyo, Japan
Miyake Design Studio



Balsa Furniture, London, UK
Kihyun Kim

Chassis, Munich, Germany
Stefan Diez

The Crates, Beijing, China
Naihan Li & Co

Earthquake Proof Table, Jerusalem, Israel
Arthur Brutter and Ido Bruno

Harbour Chair, London, UK
André Klauser and Ed Carpenter

Hemp Chair, Berlin, Germany
Studio Aisslinger

Lightwood, London, UK
Jasper Morrison

Moon Rock Tables, London, UK
Bethan Laura Wood

Not So Expanded Polystyrene (NSEPS) , London, UK
Attua Aparicio & Oscar Wanless at SILO

Oak Inside, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Christien Meindertsma

Osso, Paris, France
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Textile Field at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, fabric by Kvadrat

Tip Ton, London, UK
Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby

Waver, Munich, Germany
Konstantin Grcic

XXXX_Sofa, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Yuya Ushida



AA Files, London, UK
John Morgan Studio

Beauty is in the Street, London, UK
Four Corners Books, Cover designed by John Morgan
Book interior designed by Pierre Le Hors

Bloomberg Businessweek, New York, USA
Bloomberg Businessweek

The Comedy Carpet, Blackpool, UK
Gordon Young and Why Not Associates

Cover artwork and video for Join Us by They Might Be Giants, New York, USA
Paul Sahre

Cut it Out, London, UK
Noma Bar

Matthew Hilton identity and website, London, UK

Nokia Pure Font, London, UK
Dalton Maag

One Thousand Cranes for Japan
Concept by Anomaly and Unit 9, London, UK

Photo-Lettering, Yorklyn, USA
House Industries

Promotional sample book for GF Smith, London, UK
SEA Design

Stockmann packaging, Helskinki, Finland
Kokoro & Moi

Self Service
Editor-in-chief: Ezra Petronio

What Design Can Do!, Amsterdam, Netherlands
De Designpolitie

Your Browser Sent A Request That This Server Could Not Understand, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Koen Taselaar



Ascent, London, UK
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

A-frame and Corbs
Ron Arad

Botanica, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Studio Formafantasma

Carbon Black Wheelchair
Andrew Slorance

Defibtech Lifeline VIEWTM Automated External Defibrillator (AED), LLC, Guilford, USA

Heracleum, Schiedam, Netherlands
Studio Bertjan Pot

Hövding Invisible Cycle Helmet

Jawbone JAMBOX, San Francisco, USA
Yves Béhar, Fuseproject

The Learning Thermostat, USA
Nest, Palo Alto

Mine Kafon, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Massoud Hassani

Olympic Torch 2012, London, UK
Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby

Black and Decker

Shade, London, UK
Simon Heijdens

Solar Sinter, London, UK
Markus Kayser Studio

Thixotrope, London, UK
Conny Freyer, Sebastien Noel and Eva Rucki of Troika

TMA-1 Headphones

Totem, London, UK
Bethan Laura Wood in collaboration with Pietro Viero

White Collection, Finland
Ville Kokkonen



787 Dreamliner

Autolib’ 3000, Paris, France
Bertrand Delanoë, Mayor of Paris, France

Bike Hanger – Bicycle Storage, New York, USA
Manifesto Architecture

Mia Electric Car
Mia Electric

Re-design for Emergency Ambulance, London, UK
Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and Vehicle Design Department,
Royal College of Art

T27 Electric Car, Surrey, UK
Gordon Murray Design

Taurus Electro G4
Pipistrel doo Ajdovscina

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