The Design Museum in London has revealed this year's nominees for its respected Designs of the Year awards. Previous winners have included Shepard Fairey's Barack Obama "Progress" poster, the London 2012 Olympic Torch, and the One Laptop Per Child designed by Yves Behar — while a discontinued Designer of the Year prize was handed to Jony Ive way back in 2003.
In among mentions of familiar brands and architects like Nest, Toyota, and Zaha Hadid, the 2014 selection includes obscure but worthy projects like Nigeria's floating school and Japan's Child Chemo House. The prevalence of Kickstarter projects is also notable, with Oculus Rift, the Bradley Timepiece, and Chineasy all being helped by successful campaigns on the crowdfunding hub.
Here you'll find a selection of the 76 nominations, all of which will be on show at the Design Museum from the end of March through August. A panel of as yet unannounced judges is in charge of picking seven category winners in the spring who will then compete for the overall prize in the summer. Patrons of the museum and people online won't be neglected, either, with a visitor vote determining the public's overall favorite and an online social vote pitting individual designs in a head-to-head popularity contest.
- Phonebloks by Dave Hakkens More of an ethos than a full-fledged design, Dave Hakkens’ Phonebloks project urges smartphone manufacturers to unite around a single modular hardware platform. Instead of replacing millions of handsets every year because of one malfunctioning or obviated part, the Phonebloks idea is to simply replace the bad module and keep the device going. Google’s Project Ara team is now working on developing the specification for this platform, which could one day revolutionize the way we buy and upgrade our phones.
- Makoko Floating School by NLE This three-story floating structure takes "an innovative, cheap, and sustainable approach" to providing for the social needs of the Makoko community in Nigeria. It's designed by local architect Kunle Adeyemi, who makes pragmatic use of available materials and offers a prototype for future new buildings in the flood-blighted area.
- Grand-Central by Thibault Brevet Coming from the same twisted mind as the DRM chair (which self-destructs after it's been used a predetermined number of times), Grand-Central is a mechanical device that prints out any messages you send with a set of computer-controlled marker pens. Designer Thibault Brevet describes it as "a tangible output device" for network-connected people.
- A Magazine curated by Stephen Jones Featuring a centrefold illustration of Dita Von Teese by David Downton, this compendium presents an exploration of modern trends in drawing and design. Jones draws on contributions from a wide variety of sources, including tattooists and manicurists as well as artists and curators.
- Me.We concept car by Toyota and Jean-Marie Massaud Recyclable, robust, and customizable. Toyota's Me.We concept car sets itself the sort of goals you'd expect from a portable device and uses similar materials too. This all-electric transporter is built around a tubular aluminum structure with interchangeable polypropylene body panels. It also aims for ultimate versatility by adapting to use as a pickup, a convertible, an off-roader, or a small city car. Designer Jean-Marie Massaud says that "the car has become an accumulation of constraints more than a source of freedom," and the Me.We is a response to the need for "more adaptability, simplicity and lightness."
- Chineasy by ShaoLan Hsueh and Noma Bar Making the Chinese language more approachable to a Western audience, ShaoLan Hsueh’s Chineasy melds text and illustration into one. The idea is that you’re more likely to learn the meaning of a character when you have a visual metaphor for it imprinted in your mind.
- New interior for UN North Delegates' Lounge by Hella Jongerius A gift from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this redesign is highlighted by the wheeled UN Lounge Chair and the privacy-conscious Sphere Table. Both have an air of retro-futurism about them, which is complemented by a color scheme evocative of the middle of the past century.
- The Bradley Timepiece by Eone Time It's not a watch, say the designers behind this timepiece, because you don't have to "watch" it to tell the time. The Bradley uses a simple ball-bearing system to give a tactile representation of time, making it suitable for people with limited sight. Its name is inspired by Bradley Snyder, an ex-Naval officer who lost his eyesight in Afghanistan in 2011, but went on to win Paralympic swimming medals in London a year later. Led by Hyungsoo Kim, the Eone team completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for the Bradley and is currently taking pre-orders on its website.
- Facade for Paul Smith store in London by 6a Architects Cast iron isn't the first material you'd think of when designing the storefront for a luxury clothing brand, but 6a Architects chose it for the way it invokes the local street ornaments like railings and lampposts. That's then mixed with a "sinuous pattern of interlocking circles" and protruding shop windows to simultaneously echo nearby architecture and stand out from it with its unorthodoxy.
- Clever Caps by Claudio Patrick Vollers and Henry Suzuki Environmentally conscious design is a big theme of this year's awards and these reusable bottle caps fit right into it. Instead of being disposed of with the plastic water container, Clever Caps can be repurposed as building blocks, having been designed to be compatible with a certain unnamed company's popular toy block system.
- Dumb Ways to Die by McCann Melbourne Cutesy visuals and upbeat music are juxtaposed with a serious message in this digital campaign to remind people to be vigilant when near trains. There are exploding heads, floating eyeballs, genitalia-assaulting piranhas, and a set of mini games in accompanying iOS and Android apps.
- Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center by Zaha Hadid Named for Azerbaijan's longtime leader, the Heydar Aliyev Center is part of a big redevelopment of Baku that also includes the Baku Crystal Hall, which hosted the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Undulating lines wrap all around this multipurpose building, lending it an organic and natural shape. The building will serve as a library, a convention center, and a museum, merged into one.