Design of the Year 2014
"Located in a part of the world associated with flying carpets and magic lanterns, the levitating soft white peaks of Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre feel indigenous. An instant national symbol akin to the Sydney Opera House or Bilbao Guggenheim, the design is a rare convergence of architectural vision, computational intelligence and extreme engineering. Its swooping roof, encasing an auditorium, library and museum, morphs into walls that spread into the surrounding landscape, while planes of water cascade through zigzag paths and flowered parterres. The upper surface of the state-of-the art, computer-calculated shell is supported by thousands of unique struts, whose continuous curves turn in upon themselves like an extended Möbius strip. Hadid has made a topologist’s dream into a practical reality shaped by hypnotically fluid forms. A masterwork of invention and execution, the building proves Hadid’s thesis that architecture need not be distinct and separate from its surroundings; each can structure and activate the other."
Joseph Giovannini, who nominated the project
Design of the Year 2013
“Grand public projects feature large in the graphic design canon. Projects such as Kinneir and Calvert’s road signage programme, Harry Beck’s London Underground map and Massimo Vignelli’s work on its New York counterpart reassure practising designers that what they do matters and can genuinely improve our lives. The gov.uk website is perhaps the digital equivalent of those great public projects of the past. It may not look particularly exciting or pretty, but that is not the point. This is design in the raw, providing vital services and information in the simplest, most logical way possible for everything from renewing a passport to understanding your rights as a disabled person.” Patrick Burgoyne, who nominated the project, also nominated by Jocelyn Bailey and Beatrice Galilee
Design of the Year 2012
Olympic Torch, by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, UK. Commissioned by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), UK Engineers: Tecosim UK Manufacturers: The Premier Group, UK
“Originally conceived for the 1936 Olympics, the torch relay is one of the most theatrical Olympic traditions. Each Games has its own design for the flaming torch, and the torch created for London 2012 is full of symbolism. Made with perforated and gilded aluminium, it is 800mm long, weighs 800 grams and has 8,000 holes. It will be carried by 8,000 people over 8,000 miles, and will be made in a batch of 8,000. Its triangular torso is reminiscent of a shark, while the perforations remind us of a traditional blow-torch combined with the exhaust from an American truck. The iconic and stylish honeycomb result represents traditional values executed in a modern manner – a very British approach to design.”
Sebastian Conran, who nominated the project
Design of the Year 2011
“A masterclass in using imaginative design to transform something of bland utility into a thing of coveted beauty, which then becomes more usable and more enjoyable. Plumen makes the bare bulb chic, mixing the ecological with a design style full of wit, energy and personality to emanate a low-energy glow in both the room and your conscience. What is terrific about Hulger is that it challenges accepted norms. Light bulbs are a commodity item sold in high volume with no interest from manufacturers to change them. As founder Nic Roope puts it, ‘it’s strange that the bulb, an object so synonymous with ideas, is almost entirely absent of imagination’. Not any more.”
Nominated by Shane Waltner, also nominated by Sam Hecht
Design of the Year 2010
"Designers don’t spend enough time trying to improve the little niggly everyday things that really affect our quality of life. British electrical plugs are ridiculously large and awkward to use compared to continental and other international standards and are in many cases larger than the devices they power. This clever folding version is easier to travel with but also allows several devices to be plugged in without messy cables and bulky multiple sockets."
Nominated by Marcus Fairs, also nominated by Tony Chambers, Daniel Charny, Sam Hecht, Shane Walter
Design of the Year 2009
"Seems sure to be one of the defining images of the US Presidential campaign, symbolising Obama’s appeal to the young but perhaps also redolent of the personality cult around him that some find worrying, also an example of how designers can get involved in political campaigns in a meaningful way – sales of his poster has raised over $400,000."
Nominated by Patrick Burgoyne
Design of the Year 2008
One Laptop Per Child is a non-profit program created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in America. The child-size laptop brings learning, information and communication to children where education is needed most: in developing countries. The result is an inexpensive and energy-efficient computer. The machine’s reduction in energy use, by 90 percent, is ideal for a device that could be charged by hand-cranked power in rural villages. The laptop features Wi-Fi antenna ‘rabbit ears’ and energy-efficient LCD, digital writing tablet and integrated video camera. Networking capabilities allow children to connect to each other, their school, their teacher and the Web. Every design aspect of the machine serves a dual purpose to achieve a sense of economy and efficiency. Nominated by Tony Chambers