The Design Museum has announced the category winners in the 2014 Designs of the Year Awards, which include the Portable Eye Examination Kit (PEEK) in the digital section, The Seaboard Grand piano keyboard in product and James Bridle's Drone Shadows project in graphics (shown above)...
The seven category winners provide the list of projects from which the overall Design of the Year is chosen – and announced on June 30 this year. As ever, there are some intriguing choices, not least because of the political charge running through the work which has topped the graphics category.
James Bridle's ongoing project via booktwo.org is a series of installations which consist of simple outlines of unmanned 'drone' aircraft at a 1:1 scale. Since 2012 the drawings, which make the unnervingly invisible 'visible', have been created in various locations from Turkey to the US. (More on the series at Bridle's site, here.)
As judge Frith Kerr commented, the project "demonstra[tes] the power of graphic design, the simple outline requires no caption, no text, no explanation. Like a reverse conjuror he makes the invisible visible, this project is as far reaching as it is uncompromising."
Interestingly, chair of the judges Ekow Eshun also added that, "We thought it was an important piece of work and we also thought it enabled graphics as a category to really expand, and to ask new questions in new ways."
It certainly does that – and that's no bad thing – but just what "expand" means here is a moot point. If the aim is that the graphics category should look to include less commercial projects and more art-informed personal practice, then the success Bridle's provocative work is certainly a move in that direction.
The Designs of the Year exhibition is on at the Design Museum until August 25. The overall winner will be announced on June 30. More at designmuseum.org. Our report from the opening of the show – including a look at the brilliant exhibition graphics by OK-RM – is here.
Here are the other winners for the remaining six categories in the Designs of the Year 2014:
ARCHITECTURE: HEYDAR ALIYEV CENTER, BAKU, AZERBAIJAN
Designed by Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher.
"Elaborate undulations, folds and inflections modify this plaza surface into an architectural landscape that performs a multitude of functions," say the Design Museum.
"An intoxicatingly beautiful building by the most brilliant architect at the height of her office's powers. It's swooning fluid on the outside and inside, belieing its size and complexity." Piers Gough, CZWG Architects LLP
DIGITAL: PEEK (PORTABLE EYE EXAMINATION KIT)
Designed by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Stewart Jordan, Dr Mario Giardini, Dr Iain Livingstone.
"A smartphone-based system for comprehensive eye examinations, PEEK is easy to use, affordable and portable, meaning that it can bring eye care to even the remotest of settings."
"What's great about PEEK is that being digital helps it do things that we couldn't do before. It's a portable optician – the camera can look at your eyes, the flash from the camera can hit the back of your eye and get a picture, you can use it as an eye test sight card, and you can then send the results to wherever you want in the world. It also feels like it can scale, you can get the kit to millions of people really quickly in one go – another advantage of digital. PEEK is enabling teachers in schools to test the eyes of kids without having to go to an optician and that feels like a really good use of digital technology." Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service
FASHION: PRADA S/S14
Designed by Miuccia Prada.
"Pop-art prints meet sporty details and structured shapes in this boldly coloured, powerful collection. Vogue said of the show ‘By next summer we'll wonder what we ever wore before.’"
"Prada's SS14 collection loudly declares the joy of being a modern woman. It mixes colours, textures, and paintings to leapfrog over the world of tasteful bland fashion. This is serious clothing that doesn't take itself seriously." Frith Kerr, Studio Frith
FURNITURE: PRO CHAIR FAMILY
Designed by Konstantin Grcic.
"Featuring state-of-the-art ergonomics and pioneering design, the construction of the chair not only allows movement in all directions, but actively stimulates it thereby promoting healthier sitting."
"No one on the jury had to argue the case for this exceptional chair - we just had to sit in it. Instantly its effect on the body is tangible and the mind can be satisfied with the balance struck between its material finesse, presence and purpose. It should absolutely shake up the educational sector and give students a truly happier experience in the classroom because it is seriously comfortable and joyous without risk of becoming a cartoon." Kim Colin, Industrial Facility
PRODUCT: THE SEABOARD GRAND
Designed by Roland Lamb and Hong-Yeul Eom.
"The Seaboard is a reinvention of the piano keyboard, reimagining the keys as soft waves that enable continuous and discrete real-time, tactile control of sound through three-dimensional hand gestures. The design combines contemporary minimalism and traditional handcrafted quality."
"This intriguing new digital instrument is the first I've seen that departs from an analogue piano typology and adds something new via its surface interface and design – lending some new musical freedom within a very controlled aesthetic. As a result of its design, the player knows the instrument can do the 'something else' that digital can uniquely provide, that an analogue piano doesn't. Apparently it's very intuitive for musicians and makes experimentation easy – I think we all enjoyed having a go." Kim Colin, Industrial Facility
TRANSPORT: XL1 CAR
Designed by Volkswagen.
"The world’s the most efficient liquid-fuelled production car; it requires only 8.4 PS to sustain a constant 100kph on a level surface in still air, a speed the car can reach from rest in 12.7 seconds."
"Here is a car that seems like it's come out of a dream of the future, it's refined, it's elegant, it can go for miles and miles on a single tank of petrol and it looks beautiful, dangerous almost, in its dramatic shapes and lines. Nothing has gone to waste here - all of this is about going as far as you can on as little as possible. It succeeds as a concept for what a car could be, for almost what a car should be in the future, except it exists now.' Ekow Eshun, writer, journalist and broadcaster, Chair of the jury.
The Designs of the Year 2014 jury:
- Ben Terrett, Government Digital Service
- Ekow Eshun, writer, journalist and broadcaster - Chair of the jury
- Frith Kerr, Studio Frith
- Kim Colin, Industrial Facility
- Piers Gough, CZWG Architects LLP
- Tina Gaudoin, Acting Editor in Chief of Elle Decoration and independent fashion journalist
Previous Design of the Year Winners:
- 2013 GOV.UK – UK Government website by GDS
- 2012 London 2012 Olympic Torch, by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby
- 2011 Plumen 001 by Samuel Wilkinson and Hulger
- 2010 Folding Plug by Min-Kyu Choi
- 2009 Barack Obama Poster by Shepard Fairey
- 2008 One Laptop Per Child by Yves Béhar