ART: Designs of the Year Awards


The Design Museum has selected its The Designs of the Year awards winners. Considered ‘The Oscars of the design world,’ this list includes the cutting edge of design over the past year. The categories include: Architecture, Digital, Fashion, Furniture, Graphics, Transport and Product. Category winners and the overall winner were decided by a jury and announced on 16 April 2013.

Winner of Design of the Year 2013: GOV.UK Website, Designed by Government Digital Service. It functions well. Deyan Sudjic, Director of Design Museum said: “GOV.UK is a remarkable success on so many levels. It makes life better  for millions of people coping with the everyday chores, from getting a  new passport, to paying their taxes. It’s a reflection of the government  understanding how to communicate with the country in a way that works,  it’s simple, direct, well  mannered, all the things that we would like  to take for granted from the government, but in a sea of red tape and  jargon, usually can’t.”

While he calls the solution provided by Government Digital Service elegant, I submit that a stronger design with such a high regard would have included a little less universal design and more interesting font variations and color selections. Maybe a consultation with Eon Productions, creators of the Bond films, could have taken the site to the next level while keeping it accessible to all.

Architecture: Tour Bois-Les-Pretre, Paris, Designed by Frédéric Druot, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal. The renovation of this once dilapidated building in Paris was a great solution to what usually involves wrecking balls and dynamite. The program of the building was expanded with additions consisted of extending the floor slabs outwards to increase the size of rooms, and create new sun rooms and balconies. Floor-to-ceiling glass lets in more natural light and lets out views of Paris into and from the residences.

The original architect barely adressed the facade shown in the picture after the jump, using what looks like an almost vaginal paint design scheme, if you squint your eyes (sorry mom); but the bones of the building made for interesting residential units today, with taller ceilings in the center section. Accentuating these level changes with the horizontal protrusions of the balconies was a great way to emphasize the previously flat facade. I would have liked to add more of a contrast in that middle section. A green feature or a rotating art or lighting exhibit on the glass, or something more. Maybe an open common space carved out of the center?


Tour Bois-Les-Pretre, Paris, before and after

Fashion: Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel, Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland. “Style is everything… style is a way of life. Without it you are nothing,” says Diana Vreeland. EIC of Vogue Mazine; consultant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute; and author; French fashion icon she dedicated her life to style. Directed by her grand daughter-in-law, the film provides an intimate portrait of the maven.


Furniture: Medici Chair, Designed by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazzi, the chair was inspired by its most essential component—wood. the chair is an ode to the material, the machinery, and the craftsmanship that is a part of the process of creating the piece. Grcic says of the chair, “I like the idea of wood cut into planks, which is how it is processed in the first place: the tree slices into planks.” A modern take on the Adirondack chair, the piece will be on my shortlist when suggesting outdoor furniture to my Northern design clients for its familiar yet fresh lines.


Medici Chair, Designed by Konstantin Grcic for Mattiazzi


Graphics: Venice Architecture Biennale Identity, Designed by John Morgan Studio. “The Venetian stencil street signs or nizioletti don’t prevent you from getting lost in the labyrinth. But they allow you to get lost in the most elegant way” writes John Morgan about his design direction for the Architecture Biennale. The stencil evokes the temporary nature of public signage of the city off Venice, paired with the hand crafted attention to detail in their new twist on the traditional method.



Products: Kit Yamoyo, Designed by ColaLife and PI Global, was developed by British aid worker Simon Berry, who realised while working in Zambia in the 1980s that Coca-Cola was available in even the most rural villages, yet simple medicines were not. PI Global designed the container carrying an anti-diarrhea kit small enough to fit into the unused space between the Coca-Cola bottles inside the crates. A great way to rethink the delivery of truly essential items through what is not (though personally, I can’t imagine a life without Coke).


Kit Yamoyo in the cut between bottles


Transport: Morph Folding Wheel, Designed by Vitamins for Maddak Inc. Originally designed as a bicycle wheel and reinvented as a wheelchair by Duncan Fitzsimmons as a graduate student, the Folding Wheel is nothing less than amazing; functional, rugged, and truly a product that changes the way millions of disabled people move.


The Jury includes Ilse Crawford, Jury Chair, principal at Studio Ilse and Head of Department at famed design school the Design Academy Eindoven; Johanna Agerman Ross, Editor in Chief of Italian design magazine Disegno; Amanda Levete, principal at Amanda Levete Architects; Olga Polizzi, co-creator of five star luxury hotel brand Rocco Forte Hotels; Sarah Raven, writer, cook, broadcaster and teacher; Griff Rhys Jones, British actor; and Nicholas Roope, founder of Antirom, Poke, Hulger and Plumen.

The exhibition is on view through July 7 at the Design Museum in London. You can find out more about it here.

You can find out more about the Design Museum and its exhibitions here.