If you had to pick a single thing out of the last year of your life and explain why it was better designed than anything else, what would you chose? A jury at London's Design Museum narrowed its list down to seven objects—including a building, a keyboard, and a fashion line—today by announcing the category winners of its annual Design of the Year award.
The award—now in its seventh year—looks at an entire year of design in seven categories: architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphic, product and transport. Then, a jury whittles down the prospects into a short list (you can see some of them here). Finally, that jury picks out a single winner for each category (what you see below). In June, they'll crown a singular winner—last year, it was a government website. "Someday the other museums will be showing this stuff," says the jury.
Is there value in claiming that a single object—whether a fashion line or a website—was simply better than anything else out there? That's debatable.
A Princeton professor named Matthew Salganik studies what makes particular pieces of art—like the Mona Lisa—so successful. Are they really so much better? Not according to his experiments, explains NPR: "It is hard to make things of very poor quality succeed—though after you meet a basic standard of quality, what becomes a huge hit and what doesn't is essentially a matter of chance."
We'll be checking back in with the Design Museum when it announces an overall winner in June. But in the meantime, check out their choices below and tell us: is one of these really stronger than the others? Which stands out to you as a stunning piece of design?
Zaha Hadid and Patrik Schumacher's big, expensive Heydar Aliyev Centre, in Azerbaijan, won the architecture category. "Elaborate undulations, folds and inflections modify this plaza surface into an architectural landscape that performs a multitude of functions," says the jury.
Photography: Iwan Baan.
The Seaboard Grand, by Roland Lamb and Hong-Yeul Eom, is a "radically new musical instrument that re-imagines the piano keyboard as a soft, continuous surface."
Drone Shadows, by James Bridle/Booktwo.org, is "a series of installations consisting of a 1:1 outline of a military unmanned aerial vehicle, or Drone. They have appeared in the UK, Turkey, the USA, Brazil and elsewhere."
"The world's the most efficient liquid-fuelled production car," Volkswagen's XL1, won the transport category. "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," adds the museum.
Image: Eduardo Parise/CC.
Prada S/S 2014, by Miuccia Prada, won the fashion category. "Pop-art prints meet sporty details and structured shapes in this boldly coloured, powerful collection," says the jury. "Vogue said of the show 'By next summer we'll wonder what we ever wore before.'"
"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," they say of the Pro chair family by Konstantin Grcic.
Peek, which stands for portable eye examination kit, is a "smartphone-based system for comprehensive eye examinations, [that] is easy to use, affordable and portable, meaning that it can bring eye care to even the remotest of settings." It was designed by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Stewart Jordan, Dr Mario Giardini, Dr Iain Livingstone.